The following is an account of a 31-day road trip that Becky and I took of the Western United States. Our first destination was the Arches National Park in Utah. From there we looped along the Pacific Coast and back to our home in Fort Morgan, CO. In all, we put about 8.000 miles on Becky’s new car, an Infinity QX50, which was a delight to drive. We saw all types of scenery ranging from high plains, desert, the rugged coastline of Central and Northern California and Oregon, and the beautiful forests and National Parks including the Redwoods. Dodging the horrific wildfires plaguing the West Coast and particularly California, we weaved our way along our route, sometimes taking a detour because of the fires, and sometimes because by chance, relatives from the East Coast just happened to be close by. All-in-all, it was an exciting, spiritual adventure and while initially 31 days seemed like a long time, it flew by causing us both to shed a few tears as the trip drew to a close. Here is my journal and pictorial account of that trip.
We put about 8.000 miles on Becky’s new car, an Infinity QX50, which was a delight to drive.
Day 1, August 15
The day arrived, and our great adventure of Western United States began. Before we packed the car, however, our route was threatened with detour. The horrible drought and wildfires the West sustained had made the steep cliffs of Glenwood Canyon unstable, and recent rainstorms had loosed the soil causing huge mudslides that closed I-70. We were concerned that the Interstate would still be closed when we arrived, and the detour would be a long one that was out of our way. Fortunately, reports received just as we were leaving said that the Interstate was now open, but we expected a mess and lots of traffic. We thought we had better leave early…6 a.m., NO, 7 a.m., NO. Becky did not want to leave too early as we started our vacation, but weather reports were predicting rain and I wanted to get to the Canyon before more rain created more mudslides again closing the highway. We left at about 9 a.m. We thought we would leave at 8. Oh well; it is what it is.
The drive was pleasant and Becky’s new Infinity QX50 was fun to drive. I hadn’t had opportunity to drive it very much and I drove all the way to our first stop in Grand Junction. The car ran perfectly and is pretty cool. It has all the bells and whistles and outside of wrestling with the driver assist on mountain roads, it was a joy to drive.
As we approached the dreaded stretch of highway, the traffic slowed and at one point almost stopped. Even so, it was nothing like we imagined and the traffic although slowed in places, kept moving. CDOT had done a wonderful job of cleaning the highway.
Glenwood Canyon, where the mudslides closed the Interstate.
CDOT had done a good job, but we could see evidence of the mud and its depth along the side of the Interstate.
All-in-all, CDOT had done a good job opening the Interstate. While traffic slowed and some of the worse areas were only a single lane, it was not bad, and we passed without incident.
Evidence of the mudslide could be seen in one section—probably the worst section— and we could see where the mud had covered the highway. In these sections, the traffic was one lane, but if it had not been for the work crews, we probably would have not noticed anything too unusual. Thank you CDOT. Passage was a breeze!
We stopped in Rifle for lunch. We went to a nearby park and while it was nice, there were few picnic tables, so we opted not to eat there. Towards the freeway exit, though, there was a delightful rest stop and we ate there. It looked out over a quiet pond that beautifully reflected the buttes across the way in its wasters. It was a peaceful stop and a good lunch. Outside of an occasional bee, it was a very nice place to stop.
I prepare my sandwich for Lunch at a rest area in Rifle, CO.
The trip to Grand Junction was not a long one, but we took a detour to Palisade to visit the peach orchard, which had nice shop and friendly people staffing it. We bought some peaches and other delightful items and were back on the road again passing winery after winery. Wineries in Colorado…who knew?
When we arrived in Grand Junction, we checked in to our motel room and Becky beat me 2 out of 3 in Farkle. We were in the midst of a close game of Cribbage when her friend Cindy arrived for happy hour. It was a nice visit and fun to listen to Becky and Cindy as they reminisced about their days in Nursing School, but after a drink or two, it was time to eat. Cindy had picked out a restaurant that was wonderful. We sat outdoors in a dining area that looked more like a spacious backyard than a restraint. The food was good, the company delightful and this wonderful experience brought our first day to an end. Thank you, Cindy.
One of the things that struck me as we drove across Colorado, was the change of scenery. From the high plains of NE Colorado with its fields of corn to the wooded mountains of the Rocky Mountains to the high plan desert that surrounds Grand Junction, the views were spectacular. This is a picture of the Rocky Mountains near the I-70 corridor.
The scrub pine dots the dessert around Grand Junction. This rest stop was gorgeous with a breathtaking view.