We started our day in Gunnison under partly cloudy skies with occasional blue and cool temperatures, but by the time we got to the long climb up to Monarch Pass the sky was completely overcast and we were soon in fog.
Not very 'scenic' today - But it is probably a great ride and view
The summit, at 11,312 feet, had limited visibility. It was enough to see that there is a nice ski area up there, but also a separate ski lift from the parking area to the actual summit of the mountain. I imagine the view from the top it very striking on a clear day.. There is even a gift shop adjacent to the parking area.
We descended to the town of Salida and soon afterwards were in yet another canyon, Big Horn Sheep Canyon, formed by the Arkansas River. It was raining steadily by this time, but that didn't stop the hundreds of people white water rafting on the Arkansas River. It has some great rapids. (Unlike the state, the 's' at the end of Arkansas is not pronounced like a 'w' and the accent is on the second syllable, more like "Are Kansas") The canyon was about twenty miles long, but it never stopped raining so I really couldn't get good pictures.
Fog followed us all the way to Colorado Springs, and then we drove in a haze to Limon, where we stopped for lunch. Shortly after leaving Limon on I-70 the sun came out, just in time for us to see the flat and featureless plains of western Kansas.
The Arkansas River is a challenge for rafters
I was quite disappointed and cross about the missed opportunity to record our trip across the Rockies today, but Judy reminded me that we've been extremely fortunate on our trips in that weather has almost always been in our favor. I have to agree with her, we have indeed been blessed with plenty of sunshine on this trip.
One of the activities we planned for on the return trip involved going to Dismals Canyon in Alabama. Dismalites are a type of worm that exhibit phosphorescence, the ability to glow in the dark. That was the 'sparks' in the title of the trip. However, it must be completely dark in the canyon to be able to see the phenomenon. We were unable to get a tour on a Thursday night, so I was out of sorts about that, too. I even changed our itinerary and rebooked some hotels to skip Alabama altogether.
The 'sparks' remains in the title because yours truly caused dissent when he couldn't get his way, and had a little hissy fit over it. I must confess that I had to apologize to my dear wife for my unseemly behavior.
We arrived in Hays, Kansas at dinner time and I made the necessary itinerary and hotel changes to give us a direct and quicker route home.
Since there was little sight seeing today and changes in itinerary and hotels was necessary, this is a good time to provide a tip as to how we save lots of money on our road trips. We stay in hotels every night, because neither of us is willing to give up that comfort for the camping experience. It might be less expensive to camp, but I have used a different way to cut costs.
I joined two hotel rewards programs many years ago. Each one has about a dozen hotel brands in their family ranging in quality from high end to low. I have rarely used any hotel in the chain below the fourth level. Consequently, I have not been disappointed with my stay except on rare occasions.
One of the perks of staying at the better hotels is that they all provide a complimentary hot breakfast. That in itself saves us about $10 per day in meal expense. Another perk is that every second stay gives me bonus points, so that I really rack up points fast on a trip. And a third benefit is that I can redeem points for reward nights, either using points alone or a combination of points and a small amount of money. I can stay a "free" night, or pay as little as $30 for a first class hotel. And that free breakfast still comes with the room. If I change my mind after reserving, I can cancel just like any reservation and get my points back.
I'm not adverse to using supplies from the hotel breakfast buffet once in a while to make a PB&J sandwich, which I take away with me for my lunch later in the day. Otherwise, when I stop at McDonalds for my first coffee break, we buy two of their parfaits, which are always frozen when bought. By lunchtime they thaw out perfectly and make a nice lunch treat for less than $3. The only full meal we have on the road is dinner, so that is a savings of $20-per-day including breakfast and lunch.
Over the years, I've saved thousands of dollars in hotel and meal costs using the rewards points and staying with a limited number of choices in lodging. On this trip I saved about $700 using the rewards program. That's not bad for a 14-day roadtrip.
Mileage - 475 Total - 5105