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  1. #1
    Dee August Guest

    Default Colorado trip report

    Okay. We just got back from our trip to Colorado. Thanks to everyone for the info here, it was great insight. Here's the report I promised:

    Departed Wilmington, DE on Sat. Sept 3. It took us 11 hours to get to Holiday Inn Express in Greenfield, IN.

    The next day was 11 hrs. to a very nice Super 8 in Salina, KS (we were very impressed) and the 3rd day was 8 hrs. to Estes Park =1818 miles. In Estes Park stayed at the Silver Moon Inn 2 nights, which was quaint but could use a little renovation. We ate at Chelitos the first day (very good mexican)and then breakfast and dinner the next at the Grubstake which was good too.

    We tried to lay low to acclimate to altitude but were so excited the next day we hiked to Nymph Lake and then drove to summit of Trail Ridge Road to miss the forecasted rain of the next day. Don't do this as quickly as we did, the altitude will get you.

    We left Estes and headed over Trail Ridge Road (saw elk), stopped in Grand Lake, very nice! and then hit I-70. We were glad we went this way otherwise we would have missed awesome Glenwood Canyon. What a sin there's a road through it.

    We were trying to avoid "cities", so we skipped congested Glenwood Springs and drove further. Stayed in Redstone at the Redstone Cliffs Lodge. REALLY NICE! Ate at the historic Redstone Lodge.

    Left Redstone in the morning and headed for the Black Canyon of the Gunnison. DO NOT MISS THIS. The BCG is magnificent, awesome, spectacular! Saw a bobcat here too. Leave time, it's lots of overlooks which are each very different, and some are a hike.

    When we left BCG we headed to Cortez. Ate at the local brewery on Main St. and stayed at a Super 8. Not as nice a one as Salina but the beds are really comfortable.

    From Cortez we went to Mesa Verde. This place is amazing!!! Take the Cliff House tour and then go to Spruce House. There are overlooks where you can see some of the 600 cliff dwellings here. You can go to Spruce House on your own. There is hiking and climbing involved here, be ready, take water.

    From Mesa Verde we drove to Four Corners. Actually nice because there are Native American vendors here, our only interaction with Native Americans. You are in the Navajo Nation here. Try the Navajo tacos from the lady in the little trailer with the awning. Yummy! It's desolate on the way (why did we give the Indians all the land they can't do a darn thing with?)

    Drove from here through the corner of Arizona and then thru the top of New Mexico to Durango. Stayed at Super 8 again. Next day took the Durango Silverton train trip. What great scenery! We recommend it highly. We saw a bear on this trip. Silverton was really nice! Ate at Handlebars, bought jewelry from Ellis Tanner. Took the train back. It gets long at the end of the day. Some people in our hotel took the bus back and said it only took an hour and the driver gave a great narrative on the way back to Durango.

    Left Durango and ate breakfast at the Brickhouse Cafe. This was really good. Drove the Million Dollar Highway and stopped at Silverton again for a leisurely visit, you only have 2 hours when you take the train.

    Left Silverton and headed to Ouray, our real destination for our 25th anniversary. Drove the Million Dollar Hwy, the only way to go. Spectacular scenery! White-knuckled driving.
    Ouray. What can I say? It's wonderful. We were there 3 days. We stayed at the Box Canyon Lodge, also wonderful. They are reasonably priced, and have their own mineral hot springs tubs, now a must in our book. Went to Box Canyon to see the falls. Its nice, but once you've seen BCG....

    We went to Cascade Falls, it was okay - a little bit of a steep hike. I recommend walking sticks always.
    We ate breakfast at Bulow's Bistro in the Beaumont Hotel. Limited to a delicious wrap and Starbucks coffee, while there just stop to take in the lobby. Incredible! We also ate a breakfast at a little coffee shop/internet cafe. It's okay but the staff isn't. Ate our last breakfast at a wonderful little bakery on Main Street. We ate 2 lunches at the Goldbelt, one at Billy Goat Gruff's (good german food) and dinners at the Outlaw (very good) and the historic Western Hotel.

    Signed on to a jeep tour with Switzerland of America to Imogene Pass. This too was amazing! If you do this in September, do not be fooled by the weather in town. It was freezing with a driving, howling wind up there. Luckily we dressed for it, many didn't. This is an incredible thing to do, it's beautiful up there, like the top of the world.

    Sadly left Ouray to head home. The last big pass out of the Rockies, Monarch, was socked in and it actually snowed for awhile. Headed for Canon City and Royal Gorge Bridge which was a total waste. The commercialism hasn't been updated since about 1960, and you can't even see the bridge from the parking lot, because of a strategically placed building for the aerial tram. With the weather from Monarch bearing down on us, we just left without seeing more than the towers sticking up.

    We just headed to Pueblo. We did check out Florence per a suggestion from someone here, but it didn't seem like much and the Super 8 we were looking for was so far out of town it was scary. We turned around and just headed for Pueblo. The S8 wasn't that great but the beds are always really comfortable. Angelo's New York Pizza, next door, had the best pizza I've ever had.

    We left Pueblo and headed out Rt. 50 to Dodge City. It too was a sad, commercialized waste of time. We got the heck out of Dodge (sorry, I had to say it) and made it to Salina, KS by the evening. From there our long day was to Plainfield, IN and a positively awesome Super 8.

    From there we slowed a little, spent the night in Pittsburgh, a 6.5 hr. drive, stayed in a crappy Days Inn, ate at the Church Brew Works, awesome! and then a 5.5 hr. trip home.

    Was gas high? Yes, but thankfully went down during our second week out there. Our total driving time was 30 hrs. out, 32 hrs. back and $562.00 in gas. We drove a lot, but always knew the scenery was a big part of the trip so it was okay. Overall a wonderul trip. We'd both recommend Super 8's as well. Good road trip hotels.
    Last edited by Robert Schaller; 09-20-2005 at 01:28 PM. Reason: Format

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
    Posts
    3,318

    Default

    Great trip report! Sounds like you had a great time. Thanks for sharing.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default Thanks

    Yep - sounds like you and your husband had a great 25th aniversary and thoroughly enjoyed his first trip off the east coast. I MUST get back and explore southwestern CO. I've either buzzed through or fought blizzards on my previous forays into the area. You've wetted my appetite for it again.

    Looks like you made it to CO in only 3 days. That's moving! I'm glad you took a little more time on the way back. But I have to second your impression of Dodge. My experience was worse (but seems to hold true every time I have a steak in 'cattle country'), namely I got food poisoning and spent the night conversing with the john.

    Thanks for the report and letting us see where your planning led.

    AZBuck

  4. Default A Short Navajo History Lesson

    From Mesa Verde we drove to 4 corners. Actually nice because there are Native American vendors here, our only interaction with Native Americans. You are in the Navajo Nation here. Try the Navajo tacos from the lady in the little trailer with the awning. Yummy! It's desolate on the way (why did we give the Indians all the land they can't do a darn thing with?)
    Actually, while giving American Indians land nobody else wanted was a common theme in Western history, the Navajo got exactly the land they wanted. When Kit Carson drove them out of their present lands in the 1860s under orders from General Carlton, they were marched to a desolate area of New Mexico called the Bosque Redondo, near Ft Sumner. There, mixed with peoples they didn't get along with, and suffering (and dying) on the government dole, they lobbied the government to send them back "home;" home was the land they now occupy. For once in history, the government relented, and the "Dineh" nation, what was left of it, marched back. The Four Corners region is good for sheep herding and ranching, and the people have done well there to some extent. Lately, they are mining coal in the area. They are making some money in the tourism business. There is a problem with finding adequate numbers of jobs, and young people (as well as their older relatives) often leave the "res" to find work elsewhere; poverty is common. But the Navajo are working to preserve their history and culture, and educate their own children. I for one, wish them complete success. They are an easy people to like.

    Great trip report, I really enjoyed reading it! Bob

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default Well said

    Quote Originally Posted by Moderator Bob
    Actually, while giving American Indians land nobody else wanted was a common theme in Western history, the Navajo got exactly the land they wanted.
    Thanks for the weigh-in. I was going to respond to that common myth too -- The 4-Corners land is beautiful by most definitions, but what is seen on the surface by casual roadtrippers is often superficial at best. A fierce pride for the land and the people who choose to call it home with all of its occasional harshness, is part and parcel of the Navajo Nation.

  6. #6
    Dee August Guest

    Default No offense

    I love American Indians - I meant no disrespect for their land. It just seemed so barren and harsh. I stand corrected and thanks for the interesting info, obviously I didn't know the story.
    I totally agree that they are an easy people to like. We were at 4 corners for about 2 hours and my husband positively fell in love with the Navajo people there. We both agreed that they seemed to be a very "sweet" people. We both felt very welcome by them.
    We did have a great time! I can't wait to go back.
    Denise

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default I hoped you turned on AM radio?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dee August
    I meant no disrespect for their land. It just seemed so barren and harsh.
    It is not lush in the traditional meaning, but still vibrant with remarkably divergent life-forms. I hope you remembered to turn on the AM-radio during your time in the 4-Corner region? The language always sounds like singing to me and I often listen for hours even though I only know a handful of words.

    What I am most curious about is whether or not, you took some of those backroad routes in Colorado (discussed earlier on this board ) before you reached the Grand Canyon of the Gunnison?

    Anyway, great field report and we look forward to your next ones!

    Mark

  8. #8
    Dee August Guest

    Default No Radio

    We never thought of the radio, we just spent lots of time looking. But I did notice that a lot of the Navajo vendors did have radios on in their language. I even mentioned it to my husband. I agree it is pleasant to listen to.

  9. #9
    Dee August Guest

    Default

    We didn't take "back roads" but we did take 133 south from Glenwood Springs and that's a pretty beautiful ride. We took a little side trip to Marble, but if there is anything there it's hard to find. No signs to speak of and the museum seemed to be boarded up.

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