Monday, September 9, 2013

The Final Leg of our 2013 Trip South

September 9th
Well, not a lot to report today. Left Albuquerque thismorning and headed east on I-40 for about 60 miles to Clines Corner, where we turned south onto 285, then nothing to see except cactus, sand and flatland all the way to Roswell. Even going through there, there were no aliens to be seen, so no pictures today. Another 100 miles and we were finally in Texas. When we went through here in the spring the wind was blowing, the sand was drifting, and we thought this to be a very poor area, but today was surprised to find quite a different story. The fields are growing lots of potatoes and other veggy crops undetermined by us what they might be. Irrigation sprinklers were everywhere, and all was very green.  Not sure why we did not see the same thing in the spring. Maybe it because it was the end of the day and we were just looking for a place to rest our heads. Arrived at Big Springs, Texas at 5:00PM (now in Central Time Zone) and was going to check in at a La Quinta Hotel, but they wanted $199, so went one block back and checked into Advantage Inn for $78, tax included. And it sure is not a dump!! Dinner at a steak House adjacent, and again ate too much, but this was a celebration for us. 52 Years of marriage. How about that!!!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Finally heading South Again

Well here we are, after that disastrous summer final heading south for a couple of months to see if we can finally slow down a d relax a little. Last couple of days we spent trying to get everything under control and packing the jeep in preparation for the trip down.
Now I am going to fill you in on the whole dastardly summer activity, but do not expect an immediate update as an awful lot happened during the summer, and is going to take me sometime to tell you all about it. I am going to show you from time to time when I have done an update with a link and you should be able to click on it an go directly to the new data - well I hope that is the way it works -----

September 1st
So anyway today we left High River this morning and travelled down #22 to Lundbreck and to Pincher Creek
Had Breakfast Porridge with Don, Shannon, Caitlin, Samantha, Mike and kids before we headed south. Went through Cardston, and Carway border crossing with out an issue, and then to St Mary's, Browning, Choteau, and on to Helena to the Hamptons Hotel for the night - Had supper at the Overland Express, and will retire early.

September 2nd
Left Helena this morning after breakfast at the hotel and headed down the valley towards Yellowstone. Stopped in Wheat at the sandwich deli and bought some sandwiches for lunch.
Smoke from Idaho Forest Fires
Harvest Time in Montana

Arrived in West Yellowstone about 12:30 and decided to continue on into the park. It was raining so we just drove on with few stops until we reached Old Faithful. She had just erupted shortly before so Denice bought a few nick-nacks, and we decided not to wait until the next Old Faithful event as we have seen them many times in the past.
South from Earthquake Dam

Just a Local!!

Old Faithful at a quiet moment

Headed south to the South Entrance and through the Grand Tetons, then into Jackson Hole. The rain has let up, but still very overcast. Took a room at the Elk Refuge Inn for $140. We originally went to the Rustic Inn, but they wanted a mere $260!  Sorry, not interested!!
Jackson Downtown park

September 3rd
Breakfast this morning at "The Bunnery" in Jackson Hole, then headed south on 191 through a lot of Wyoming sage brush country all the way to Rock Springs, Wyo. West on I-80 for 13 miles then south again on 530 toward Flaming Gorge.

Fall is coming!!
Crossing the Oregon Trail
A nice Buck

Seemed we were just seeing a lot more sage brush until we finally did come to the Gorge. It was GREAT and well worth the drive. A long way down a steep grade to the bottom of the gorge, followed the bottom for a few miles and the climbed the long 8% grade out of the canyon. Many overlooks and great scenery. Stopped at Red Canyon overlook for another photo op and then headed south to Vernal, Utah where we checked into a Best Western for the night. KFC for dinner.

September 4th
Slow day today - had breakfast then drove east a few miles to a Dinosaur Park. A great facility with lots of uncovered dinosaur bones - they call it a log jamb of bones left from some event that caused hundreds of the beasts to die, many by drowning and floating down a river to be buried in the sand.

A very Large back bone ( could not spell vertebrae???)

The indoor excavation area

Now there is a femur ( or is it a drum stick?)

 After a couple of hours there headed south on 191 to Moab. Arrived there early and checked into the Holiday Express. Jut rested to rest of the day.

September 5th
Hot breakfast at the hotel before heading off to to Arches National Park. Been the a few times in the past, but it is always a great place to visit. So many photo ops!!! It is about a 40 or 50 mile round trip so we did not get back to the Visitor Center until noon. Of course could not pass there without stopping and giving them some business!

As You can see from the Captions, I borrowed these

Then on the road again down 191 through Montechello, Blanding, and Bluff. A few miles out of Bluff turned east onto 160 to Colorado and 4 Corners. Here is the only place in the USA that 4 states meet at a common corner. Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico all join here.

Very nice facility with a lot of native art wares displayed for sale. And of course we supported them!!  Then on to Cortez, Colorado for the night.

September 6th
9 miles out of Cortez is the entrance to Mesa Verde. Arrived there by about 8:00AM and stopped at the info center to find out all the details. Advised to drive on ahead 20 miles to the Palace Ruins. The road to there takes you up over a couple passes at more than 8000 feet and through a 1/2 mile tunnel. But all very picturesque. Takes about an hour and a half to reach the Anasazi cliff dwellings.There must have been a very large civilization of them in this area as there are recorded over 4000 individual sites. We spent most of the day here and visited (or at least took pictures from the road above the cliffs) many of them. Denice has been having trouble with her left hip, so cannot walk a long distance . We are not sure what the problem is, but will have to have it looked at once we return to Canada in November.Once we had seen all that we wanted, and a couple hundred pictures, we headed back to the info center and then to Durango, a short 40 miles east. Checked into a motel right next to the start of the Durango/Silverton narrow gage railroad. Once settled in I went over and purchased tickets for tomorrows train ride to Silverton and back by tomorrow evening. Denice says that is another of the things in her "Bucket List"

September 7th
Caught the Durango / Silverton Narrow Gage Railway this morning at 7:00AM, exit Durango at 8:00AM. Was a great day! A little cool in the morning, had to wear jackets, but return trip was hot and sunny. Trip to Silverton took about 3 1/2 hours, just in time for lunch, and a little shopping at the neat stores there. Denice is starting to replace a lot of items lost in the High River flood!!
Caught the return train at 1:30PM. Our seats were on the same side of the outdoor coach so we did see both sides of the track. Great scenery!!!  Back to Durango by 5:30PM and to our reserved motel at the Best Western, who gave us 2 complimentary drinks each. Another GREAT Day!!

September 8th

From Durango toward Albuquerque for 80 miles, then a right turn onto a local road heading for Choco Canyon. First 8 miles were fair pavement, then road bed changed to Light gravel for about 5 miles, then to the worst dirt / sand / washboard that you can imagine for remaining 10 miles. Once into the National Choco Canyon Park all roads were well paved highways, but that 10 miles should be an embarrassment to the US Government. The ruins in the canyon are nothing less than fantastic.
Park entrance - after 20 miles of washboard

Lots of petroglyphs

Many, many rooms (600 I believe)

Very precise rockwork

Only a portion of the total of one site

A very large Kiva

 Rather than cliff dwellings like Mesa Verde, these are ancient Pueblo dwellings at the base of the canyon walls. These you can drive right to the edge of them and walk freely among the many individual rooms and Kivas. But, as in Mesa Verde, the sites indicate a huge population living there for several hundred years from about 800 to 1200 AD. A very advanced civilization with complex structures, dams, irrigation systems and roads. A very unique item are their road system leading to many other areas. These were clearly marked out and 30 feet wide. Seems strange as they had no horses, wagons or means of moving between the sites other than on foot. Archaeologists have no explanation of this phenomenon. After wandering around a few of the sites for a couple of hours elected to head back to the main highway over that embarrassment, the US Gov't calls an access road. Makes me feel like sending an email to Mr. Obama voicing my concerns. Once back on highway 550 headed to Albuquerque, arriving there at 4:00PM and checked into another Best Western Hotel. We had been to this one before, and found it very nice and about half the price of others we have been staying at this trip down. Sometimes I just do not understand the rational behind their rates. After settling in, called Denice's aunt and took her out for dinner to Landry's Seafood Restaurant. Very Good!!!

2013 Summer

will start to fill in as time goes on