Day Eighteen

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This morning we woke up in Grand Junction, Colorado, and tonight we are in a Quality Inn in Richfield, Utah. This is our second visit to Utah, as last week we were in Northern Utah and visited Salt Lake City. Today we drove 317 miles, and visited what Susie just said was one of her favorite stops so far, Arches National Park, but more about that later.

First a couple of notes about the day. As I said we started the day in Grand Junction, at a very nice Econo Lodge. For what we paid for the room (under $90) we were pleasantly surprised by how nice a hotel it was and were happy. This morning we went down for the continental breakfast, and we were treated to a display which just goes to show that PT Barnum was correct…you will never be disappointed by underestimating the intelligence of people!

First, there was this young couple…if they were 20 I’d be surprised. She had on flip flops and he was walking in the breakfast room shoeless! Not to be rude, but they were dumb as stumps, and stood dead center at the counter trying to open individual cereal containers! They were totally unaware that people were behind them, trying to get to the counter. God, how I love people like that!

Then there was the Italian Family, Mom and Dad and two teenage kids. I knew they were Italian, because I remember enough of college Italian to be able to recognize the language, speak it, no, but recognize it, yes! When they left, the floor looked like there had been a large group of toddlers eating there, as there were crumbs from chocolate muffins all over the table and the floor.

Then there was the girl that was working in the hotel, putting out breakfast items, who looked at Susie as she was eating a banana-nut muffin and said, “Oh, you butter your muffin? I never heard of that.” Talk about a banana NUT!

Then there was Arches! We got there about 11:20 this morning and we got in using my Senior Pass (best $10 I have EVER spent), and started to drive through the park. The road is 20 miles from the Visitor Center to the end of the park, so if you drove it like we did, to the end, it’s 40 miles in total. Along the way there are areas where you drive off the main road to get closer to the sights. At some of them, there is a short walk on paved paths to get a better view, but in many, there are also paths that you can hike to get really close. We took the short paths and used the telephoto lens of our Nikon Camera to get really close.

Words can not adequately describe the beauty we saw today, so here are a selection of the over 100 pictures we took, that we hope will give you an idea of what we saw.

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One more note before we leave Arches. The temps were in the 90s today, low humidity, but still hot. We passed a group of Asian tourists, some who had on hoodies, some fleece vests, some hats and scarfs! What are we missing here??

Tonight we are at a Quality inn, in Richfield, Utah. We have a very nice king bed room, and at total cost of $83.55, it’s a real bargain. Early on, we had one or two experiences that made us review our reservations, and we changed about a half dozen of them. For $83 and change, you might think we should have changed this one, but the room is nice and the hotel is very well maintained. We’re happy, and that’s what’s important! As usual when we get to the room, I make a drink, we download the day’s pictures and edit out the ones we don’t want, I start working on the blog, and Susie does restaurant research. Tonight she found us a real good one…Frontier Village Restaurant. We both had a beer, flat iron steaks, with salad and baked potato, and the bill was just over $50. A great meal at a great price, and much better than a Ruby Tuesdays or an Applebees!

Enjoy today’s pictures, tomorrow we head towards Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks, and a two night stay in Kanab, Utah! Then it’s on to the weekend in Vegas!

Viva Las Vegas!!! https://youtu.be/nzht1l3UkKE

Day Seventeen

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Holy Shit…we’ve been on the road for almost three weeks already! We are still having a good time, still seeing things that amaze us, and still enjoying being with each other! What could be better? We both have to admit that having seen so much over the last 17 days, some of the days run together in our minds, but as I said to Susie today, “As soon as we get home, we need to read the blog from beginning to end, and remember exactly what we did, so we can talk to people about our trip!” Honestly, some days writing this is a pain in the ass. I’d really rather be relaxing with a cocktail, or watching TV, or sleeping, but I know we will have a record when we get home, and in the end, that makes it all worthwhile. Of course, knowing that all you are along for the ride with is, also makes it rewarding, but honestly, some days I don’t even give a shit about you! Sorry!

So, today we left Manitou Springs, and most of our day was driving. Tonight we are in Grand Junction, Colorado, our last night in Colorado on this trip. We drove 301 miles today, but before we left the Manitou Springs area, we decided to check out the Garden of the Gods, which we had heard about for the past couple of days. Unlike so many places we have visited, this is a city park. It is filled with beautiful vistas, and to our surprise on this day after the Labor Day weekend, was full of people. Take a look at some of the things we saw!

After a brief stop over, we headed off towards Grand Junction. The first part of our trip was on US 24, which was one of the usual 2 lane, switchback curve roads, that we have seen so much of on our trip. There are a couple of passes over the mountains that the road takes, and one of them was over 10,000 feet, so we were up in the clouds again today.

One town that it goes through is Leadville, which if you remember back to a couple of days ago’s blog, was the town that the Unsinkable Molly Brown’s husband discovered gold in, which propelled them into all their adventures. No adventures for us there today, but we did pass this bar, which we thought was both funny, and a reminder that home is never very far away!

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Eventually we got on Interstate 70 West, which was an incredible roadway. After we got to the hotel tonight, I looked up Interstate 70 on Google, and found this:

“The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) lists the construction of I-70 among the engineering marvels undertaken in the Interstate Highway system, and cites four major accomplishments: the section through the Dakota Hogback, Eisenhower Tunnel, Vail Pass and Glenwood Canyon. The Eisenhower Tunnel, with a maximum elevation of 11,158 feet (3,401 m) and length of 1.7 miles (2.7 km), is the longest mountain tunnel and highest point along the Interstate Highway System. The portion through Glenwood Canyon was completed on October 14, 1992. This was one of the final pieces of the Interstate Highway System to open to traffic, and is one of the most expensive rural highways per mile built in the United States. The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) earned the 1993 Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement Award from the American Society of Civil Engineers for the completion of I-70 through the canyon.”
It was an amazing road, and before I even read the above, I knew it was an engineering and construction marvel! The views on it were incredible as we followed the Colorado River through the mountains, and we both kept asking, “How did they build this?”

Oh, and just so you don’t think it’s all brilliant engineering, this is the sign for Exit 119 on Interstate 70!

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Tonight we are in Grand Junction, Colorado, which is only a brief stop over for our trip tomorrow back into Utah. As I’ve said before, because we’ve zig zagged around a bit to see everything we want to see, we have visited some states twice. This is the case with Utah, but as of today, we started heading west again. We will say bye bye to Colorado, and hello to Utah again for 4 days.

We just got back from having an incredible Mexican dinner, at a restaurant just down the street called, WW Peppers. They have a great looking steak menu, and Southwest section, which we ordered from.

In case you couldn’t read the label of the bottle of wine we had, here is an enlargement. Remember, Susie buys wines by the shape of the bottle, the label, or the name. Guess which one she used to pick this wine tonite?

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Some things we have forgotten to mention.

A couple of days ago, when we were driving through the Rocky Mountain National Park, there was one area of the drive, in which we were surrounded by a dense growth of pine trees. The pine effect was so intense, that even though we had the AC on, suddenly the whole car smelled like pine.

One of the last towns we passed through in Wyoming was Baggs, Wyoming, population 440. The remarkable thing was that at no point in the town did we have cell phone service, which means that there at least 440 people in Wyoming who are not really in the 21st Century.

Remember a couple of days ago, when I mentioned in the blog that Susie had learned to put the Sonata into the “sport mode” and downshift gears coming down mountain grades? Well, there apparently are people who don’t have that skill, because we heard yesterday that when you come down the Pikes Peak Highway from the summit, at some point you are stopped, and they check how hot your brakes are. If you have not been downshifting, and using the brakes too much and they are too hot, they make you stop and wait till they cool down before they allow you to continue your decent.

And so we end another fun filled day on the road with Sue and Frank D’Elia. Have a good night everybody. See you tomorrow!