Tuesday, September 10, 2013

A Small Taste of Colorado

Colorado may well be our favorite state, but it was not a destination state this year.  We made the most of our four nights and driving time there as we made our way to Utah.  The drive south on I-25 from Cheyenne became more scenic as we approached the Loveland area.  Highway 34 to Estes Park, especially in the Thompson Canyon area, was a beautiful route.  Those canyon walls were HIGH!!

Rocky Mountain National Park provided a free shuttle service to the various points of the park.  It was so nice to let someone else do the driving!  After viewing the park introduction film at the Visitor Center, we shuttled to Bear Lake and hiked the loop around the lake.  

This picture was taken at the trailhead of Glacier Trail.  How many glaciers do you 

Jellystone Park of Estes Park was a fun park with steep roads & trails and a lot of altitude.  The altitude just about kicked our butts.  We had to push ourselves to hike the trail behind the park, the one that ends up in a national forest when you miss the trail marker.  Here's the view from the trail.

Traveling Interstate 70 from Denver to Grand Junction was such a treat!  I've never before been through so many tunnels at such a high altitude.  This route was a "first time" for both of us and went beyond our expectations of beauty and grandeur.  The road signs were quite interesting, too!


The Eisenhower Memorial Tunnel was fun (so were all the others). We crossed the Continental Divide while driving through this tunnel at 11,000+ elevation.

Lots of tunnels!

 I-70 is an engineering marvel, built along the Colorado River.  The cliffs and canyons of the Rockies were breathtaking.

An overnight stop was made in Grand Junction at the Junction West RV Park.  Plans to visit the Colorado National Monument were cancelled due to tunnels too small for our RV to go through.

That was a short but sweet time spent in Colorado!!  More in the future, please!

coming soon:  Utah


August 20th and we were headed to Wyoming!  First stop:  Devils Tower National Monument.  This was a short but interesting stop.

On to Ft. Laramie and the Chuck Wagon RV Park.  More homework should have been done prior to selecting this little town and this RV Park :(  The population of Ft. Laramie is under 300, so there was nothing to do other than visit the area historic sites.  The RV park was okay other than the railroad tracks that were just feet away from the park.  Trains and whistles, along with rattling and shaking, ALL. NIGHT. LONG.  But also just feet away was the F. L. A. G. cafe (Fort Laramie American Grill).  The food was excellent, and the owner was super friendly.  Any guesses on the decor theme?? 

The historic attractions in the area were superb.  First stop was at the Fort Laramie National Historic Site.  During the mid-1800's, the fort was the supply stop for the Pony Express, Mormon Trail, Oregon Trail, and California Trail.  Thousands of emigrants making their way West walked these grounds.

A short drive up the road found us at the Oregon Trail Ruts National Historic Landmark.   It was so difficult to imagine driving or guiding covered wagons (carts or wagons of any kind) over this path.  Parts of the ruts were as high my knees.

A few miles further down the river was the Register Cliff State Historic Site.  The Oregon Trail followed the North Platte River across the plains and into the rugged terrain of the West.   As the emigrants passed these cliffs, they registered their presence.  Over 700 names are found on Register Cliff, along with dates as early as 1829.

All three of these Historic Sites were poignant for Curt, as his great-great grandparents Bolinger emigrated to California via the Oregon Trail.  Did they walk the very grounds of Fort Laramie that Curt walked?  Did their wagon wheels touch the rut that Curt had his foot placed in?  Did they register their names somewhere on Register Cliff?

On to Cheyenne, with plans to visit the Western Museum.  Unfortunately there was no place within walking distance of the museum to park our RV!!  There is a huge parking garage for cars but nothing we could fit into.  After driving around town for close to an hour looking for parking, we ended up going to Holliday Park where the "Big Boy" steam engine is stationed.  Curt is a train nut, so this was exciting!  First time he has ever seen a "Big Boy".   This 1.2 million pound behemoth is one of only 25 of the world's largest steam engines built exclusively for Union Pacific between 1941 and 1944.

Our next Cheyenne stop was the Terry Bison Ranch where we spent two wonderfully western nights!   Following a nice walk around the Ranch,  we decided that the "Ride and Dine" special was a really good deal.  A two-hour trail ride that was not a "nose to butt" ride....just the two of us with a guide, spirited horses, and acres of hills to ride in.  In addition to prairie dogs, pronghorn antelope, cayotes and bison, we saw a huge herd of elk.  One small group (13 of them) stood like centuries on a ridge as we passed by...oh so close.

Following the ride we dined at "The Senators" steakhouse.  As part of the "Ride and Dine" special, any entree from the menu could be ordered (including the $42 bison steak).  I opted for the bison ribs, very yummy.  Curt enjoyed a bison sirloin.

Saturday's activity was a "Terry Train" ride among the bison show herd.  Having bison eat out of the palm of my hand was a FIRST for me.  Do you see the tongue under my fingers?

She left a LOT of slobber on my hand!!

The day was hot, full of flies, and the herd's bull decided to roll in the dirt.

Terry Bison Ranch is THE place to stay if you are visiting the Cheyenne area.  We had a ball here and would definitely return! 

Plans for 2014 include the northwest Wyoming parks.  This Wyoming stop was just enough to whet the appetite for Wyoming!

coming next:  just a touch of Colorado