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  1. #121


    Your trip here in the States is surely a wonderful example, that there are lots of educational, fun and entertaining places (for we Americans) to visit right here at home.

    I have traveled a lot and to many places with an invalid husband, and we saw lots of National Parks and small ethnic communities. I now travel alone and do most of it in a small Volvo (the driving lights are always on - you can't turn them off). My trips are shorter now, but I love driving to the many interesting places to visit here in the Midwest.

    My family gathers at Thanksgiving in Colorado to ski and that is a nice drive across Iowa and Nevada -- to see how agriculture has improved through the years.

    Thanks for an interesting website. I'll check in every so often and read about the different road trips.

  2. #122
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia


    When I posted my last report on here, I had absolutely no idea what still lay ahead. The plan had been to just take back the car to St Paul, take it easy for a few days, catch the train to the west coast, and take my time getting back to LA and home.

    But that plan was upset when I learned that the owners of the car were taking a cruise in the Mediteranean, right about that time.

    After all the birthdays had been celebrated, and time spent with the family had come to an end, it was time to head off...... but to where?

    Exploring a couple of options and with a little help from my friends, it became 'destination Colorado'.

    Headed west on I-80 from New Jersey. There is a magnificent railway viaduct right by where I-80 crosses the Delaware River. On a previous crossing from PA into NJ, I had enquired at the visitor centre where one can stop and get close enough to take a photo. The directions given were specific, and now, I was going to really see that which I had admired from a distance at 60mph, so many times.

    Crossed the river on 94, to Portland PA, and took 611 north. I should add here that it was pouring rain, and not exactly a day to take photos, but I was going to try. In Portland I stopped in a service station to check the map, the instructions, etc. and went on again. It had to be there somewhere, the footbridge which takes you across the river, right by the viaduct.

    Miles further on, on what had been a most scenic drive to Delaware Water Gap, I visited another visitor centre. The most helpful lady there told me that the footbridge I was seeking is behind the service station where I had stopped to check the map. Oh!! well! At least I now know for next time.

    Kept heading west through the pleasant PA countryside and settled for the night at the FJ at Lamar. It had been a good drive. I was still feeling a little sad having said goodbye to the family; and decided to turn in early.

    It was 3.50am when I awoke, and unable to get back to sleep again, decided I may as well hit the road. By 4.30am I was on my way. It was a moonless night - pitch dark. There is something enthralling about being the only vehicle on the road, and all you can see is what your headlights pick up. It was also a most peaceful time, and with the cruise set at 60, I happily cruised along in a world that seemed all mine.

    Dawn illuminated the mountains as the sun rose behind me, and I became aware of how colourful the autumn leaves were on this September morning. It was near Youngstown that I stopped for a well-earned breakfast, satisfied that I had a good slice of the day's driving already behind me. It felt great!

    Other than a minor detour here and there, I stayed on I-80 all the way across OH, IN and into IL. The traffic flowed smoothly, even when I hit (my dreaded) Chicago at around 5pm, and I was sure I was going to be in all sorts of snarls... but no, there was no incentive to call it a day. I drove on......

    Until the sun was low in the west and straight into my eyes. I had already passed an accident, and not wanting to be the next, pulled into a rest area until the sun went down. That is when I met John. Such a great day. I was on a high. Total for the day was 670 miles. Not the most I have ever done, but certainly not something I want to do on a regular basis.


  3. #123
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia


    Next day I continued west across IL, when, in the vicinity of Atkinson I struck the most awful and dense pollution. The sky was thick with it.

    Ironically, when I came to the source of the problem, there was something about 'renewable energy' on the gate. I was left wondering.

    I contemplated seeking out the covered bridges of Madison county. Iowa (which I had missed earlier this trip) but decided against it. Things were going so smoothly, the drive was so relaxing, there seemed no point in changing anything.... and so I drove on. I love travelling across the great plains of the midwest. It is almost as if I can feel the stress drain away. Unfortunately too many feel that it is a gap between east and west, which must be bridged at great speed, without savouring the peace and tranquility the region affords.

    It was west of Des Moine where I admired the acres and acres of wind turbines; those majestic structures with those huge blades making their graceful sweeps through the air. There were wind turbines to admire in many States.........

    and on the road! (These pictures were taken in Shelby MT)

    Debra Jackson, the owner of the rigs said they were 153 feet long, and the rear wheels steered independently to facilitate going round corners.

    Time to stop when I got to Avoca. It was in the Grandma Max restaurant at the Wings America Truck Stop that I had planned to check my email - they had wifi advertised. Placed my order and went to open my computer, when a truckie at the next table said not to bother, "... the internet is down!" And that is how I met Dave and Bill. They had only met in the parking lot, where they parked next to each other, and discovered they drive for the same owner. Bill, from Texas, drives oversize loads with agricultural machinery. A pair of entertaining truckies who had ever so many experiences to share.

    Next day took me across Nebraska, a State which has presented me with many fond memories. I planned to enjoy every one of the 400 miles across the State. Setting my cruise at 62 (100km) and allowing those in too much of a hurry to fly past at 75+, I was once again in my element.

    I had on quite a few ocassions driven under the covered bridge which spans the highway at Kearney, but up to now have missed out on actually visiting it. This day was going to change all that.

    At the State border visitor centre the gentleman gave me all the information, including a detailed map of how to get to it. I was all set, and this time I did not miss it. I exited and drove the mile or two to the bridge, and to my horror found that it was closing in 10 minutes. (I had not been told it closes at 4pm.) Since it costs $10 to enter, it will have to wait until another time. Before moving on, I made a point of inspecting all the exhibits around the building.

    The plan had been to get to Sidney for the night, but it was not to be, and a great meal was had at Big Springs, as well as a good night's sleep.

    The next day it was off to Ft Collins CO.
    Last edited by Lifemagician; 11-21-2009 at 02:46 AM. Reason: added photos

  4. #124
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Big rigs, Wow !

    A great read, I have really been looking forward to an update on your epic journey !

    I'm certainly looking forward to you sharing your Colorado experience.

  5. #125
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia


    I chose to continue on I-80, when most of the traffic veered onto I-76, the shortcut to Denver. From here-on I-80 carries very little traffic, trucks were few and far between, and I enjoyed the drive over the undulating terrain, even more. It was lunchtime when I arrived at Cheyenne, a truly western town. After lunch at a 'rough and ready', but none-the-less, very busy truck stop, it was I-25 to Ft Collins, which was to be my base for driving the Trail Ridge Road. I had been assured by our resident weather watcher [Hi Dave!!] that the road was open, and the weather looked promising. On three previous trips I had tried to drive that road, but, even in August, blizzards had closed it.

    It was around 3.30 on a warm and sunny Sunday afternoon when I arrived at the Colorado Welcome Centre in Ft Collins. I gathered many brochures of places of interest in CO, and spent quite some time listening to the information the helpful staff so freely handed out. In response to my question, "What are the chances of the Trail Ridge Road being closed by tomorrow?" the answer was an emphatic, "Less than 1%."

    At 6.21 that evening the Trail Ridge Road was closed to all traffic at Rainbow Curve. Foiled again!!

    Undaunted, I headed out next morning along hwy 34, through Loveland, to drive as far as I could. And I am so glad I did. The drive through Big Thomson Canyon alone made it worthwhile.

    This roadside plague made me realise that things are not always as I was experiencing on this Monday morning.

    Honouring the law enforcement officers who lost their lives trying to safe others during the flash flood of July 31, 1976. 140 lives were lost.

    Arriving at Estes Park, I was lucky to get a parking spot right where the traffic was all banked up.

    And here is why.

    Took this photo sitting in the car. He was keeping close watch over his harem.

    It is just magic how the wildlife roams freely though this town.

    By the time I got to where the road was closed, I was surprised to learn that I was more than two miles above sea-level. No wonder I was cold. The drive up was magnificent... in places it felt like I was driving through a Christmas card.

    Another memorable day.

    Back at the motel, I got onto the phone and booked a place on the Royal Gorge Train a few days later. Next morning I set out for Colorado Springs.

  6. #126
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Denver

    The plan was, on this day, to stop in Denver and get some thermal clothes. I had been very cold on the Trail Ridge Road, and figured that it was only going to be getting colder. But like so many simple plans, it ended up being anything but simple.

    First I tried to find a visitor centre or chamber of commerce. Not easy - even with Garmin. Eventually found one, though it was not in downtown Denver. Unfortunately, the only person there had no idea where any relevant shops were or where there was another information or visitor centre. And no! she did not have a telephone book, and did not know where to look on the internet. (How do these people get their jobs?) Next, I decided to stop at the large supermarket. Often their staff know more, or at least, are more willing to find the information.

    It was a grandfatherly gentleman who was attending to the trolleys and baskets at the entrance, and he seemed to be a good one to ask. Yes, Kim was a local, and yes, he knew the area. After conversing with his fellow employees, the concensus was that REI would be my best bet and there was one not all that far away. "But," he said, "go to the shop in downtown Denver." He went on to tell me a little about it, enough to convince me that I follow his advice.

    On my arrival, the closest I could park was in the permit parking area, but this was still a good walk from the store entrance. It was a large store, and I realised I would be in trouble trying to get to the relevant department. Customer service were so helpful, supplying a wheel chair, which the lady from the department pushed around for me. After my satisfactory purchases, and realising my interest in the building, she was happy to give me a Cook's tour of the place.

    These photos were mostly taken from a moving wheel chair, and there really was no opportunity to adjust the lighting.

    Most of the original structure was left in place, and incorporated into the present store.

    Murals like these were on all the walls.

    This huge fireplace was fighting a losing battle warming this enormous building.

    As well as a lift and stairs, there were ramps between the different levels. A building in which I could have spent a lot of time, and if you are in Denver, I encourage you to check it out. For those able-bodied, there is a walk along the river behind the building, as well as a large amusement park next door.

    I drove on to Colorado Springs.

  7. #127
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia


    The Howard Johnson motel was right by exit 140, off I-25. Another very comfortable and affordable motel found with the aid of the coupon booklet. (As had been the motel in Ft. Collins.) Clean, and with excellent Wifi, fridge, microwave and TV, what more would one want. Ended up extending my stay a couple of times.

    Since the road to Pikes Peak was only open for less than half way (and they still charge the full toll) I figured that would have to wait till another time. Besides, the way the weather was, there were not going to be any views worth speaking of. Seven Falls was out of the question, as I was assured there would be quite a ways to walk. So I settled for the Garden of the Gods. It did not disappoint.

    I had never heard of it, and really did not know what I was heading out to see But on the road to the visitor centre I already became aware that here was some special place. The weather was cold, windy and showery.

    The park is free to enter, and actually, there really is no formal gate or boundary to the park. Part of the road is a normal everyday road, but most of the road past the magnificent geological features, is one-way. With lots of parking areas, it is possible to get quite close to most. There are walking paths through the park, but on this day I did not see anyone walking. During summer there is a bus which would be a much better way to see it.

    The slow speed allowed for lots of opportunities to admire the 'red rocks' and take photos. Just as well, as the first thing I met was this fellow.

    I have now seen so many types of deer, and am still none the wiser as to which is which, suffice to say, that they are all different.

    Grey Rock

    Balanced Rock

    Kissing Camels

    And signs that these places have been admired and revered for many ages. This was just one of the pillars with historical information.

    It was such a great day, especially since I had not had any idea as to where I was going.

    Tomorrow the Royal Gorge Train.

  8. #128
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Aptly named.

    We loved the Garden of the Gods too, so aptly named.

    #That could be the last ever picture of "Balanced rock". When we passed through with the RV, I didn't judge it quite right and...........#

    Great pictures by the way, looking forward to the Royal gorge report.

    [#Just kidding#]

  9. #129


    So now you too are helping to move the Colorado trip up the 'to do' list another couple of spots...!

  10. #130
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Royal Gorge Railway

    It is a leisurely hour's drive from Colorado Springs to the train, and as I still had to collect my ticket, I allowed myself a couple of hours to be able to do some sightseeing along the way.

    A small electric buggy to me, and a bus full of seniors, from the station building to the train which was some dozen carriages long. We were booked on the midday train, which also had the option of having lunch. Somehow, I had not fancied sitting at a table most of the way. I wanted the freedom to move about and onto the open carriage.

    That's only half of it.

    The round trip through the gorge is 24 miles, and takes about two hours including two stops. So nice and slow, especially for taking photos, and enjoying the open air carriages. The western end of the train has two engines to pull it up the slope through the gorge. These also act as extra brakes for the trip downhill.

    Since the track follows the river there are lots of curves to photograph the front.....

    and back.....

    of the train. These photos were taken through the window of the carriage... you can see the reflections if you look closely.

    The windows on the scenic side of the train were clean. There was a lovely couple - Robyn and Doug - sitting across the aisle from me, and when they realised that the view was all on one side, asked to sit opposite me. We soon got to chatting and comparing views, photos, cameras, etc.

    I was surprised to learn that not 200 years ago, this river, the Arkansas river, was the southern boundary of the USA in these parts. I tried to comprehend and understand that in relation to the USA today. It still seems incredible, and has given me a much greater understanding of some of the things I have learned about the people and the history of the places further south.

    When I saw this path leading south from the river, it made me wonder at the concept of the river being a 'border'.

    In the gorge the river is really quite narrow, and in places looks as if you could 'rock-hop' to across it. And then, there it was... the bridge. Not easy to get pictures of it with the train, as there is really only a brief moment when it is possible to see the bridge and the train going round a curve.

    On the return journey, I spent quite some time with Robyn and Doug in the open car, where we felt we were really quite close to the water.

    And here is what they are pointing at.

    On this lovely sunny, but cold day, there was quite a bit of activity on the water.

    It is on the return journey that the train stops at the hanging bridge... an engineering marvel. Here the gorge is just 30' wide, rises vertically on both sides. Along a lot of this route can be seen the old wooden pipeline which fed water to settlements further downstream. I believe this was in use until the 1970s. Quite incredible, really.

    And all too soon the train emerged from the gorge, and back into more open country.

    It was 2.30pm before we got off the train, back at the station, when Doug invited me to have a late lunch with them. A most generous offer, which I was only too glad to accept. A wonderful meal in pleasant surroundings and great company. Robyn and Doug hail from somewhere near Wichita KA.

    Up until this time I was not aware that my ticket was valid for the bridge for another week, and I headed straight for the bridge... where of course I arrived too late for anything worthwhile, and was advised to come back the next day.

    Back at the motel, I extended my stay for another night.
    Last edited by Lifemagician; 11-30-2009 at 02:52 PM. Reason: typo

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