Thursday, October 25, 2007

Roadtrip 1995 - Part 9: Rocky Mountain National Park

I entered Rocky Mountain National Park from the east. I drove up the road until I reached the part of the road closed due to snow. I parked the car and walked past the gate for a while to see the snow but I never saw much up close - I suspect most of the snow was several miles up the road. The snow did make the mountains shine.

I drove back down and did a hike in the Cub Lake and "The Pool". It was a 6.3 mile hike. It was nice enough. When I got back to the car there were some elk grazing nearby.

I spent that evening walking around downtown Estes Park. They have a nice downtown though it is a little touristy. I ended up buying a t-shirt, hat, and a small
dreamcatcher which hung from my rear-view mirror for years.

My description of Rocky Mountain National Park and Estes Park are a little lackluster, I know, but I was really getting tired from being on the road for so long - 23 days at this point - and my recollection is a little muted by my mood at the time. I will probably go back there someday to do some better hikes and enjoy what my tired self refused to enjoy the first time.


I'd had enough of Estes Park so the next day, after cleaning the fresh snow of my car, I hit the road and drove across the state of Colorado. The weather was dreary and drizzly most of the day. My original route south was closed due tot he snow so I drove down to Pueblo and took highway 50 west to Montrose. I turned south at this point taking 550 south. This is when the rain started. The 550 crosses several mountain passes on its way south. As the road went up in elevation the rain became sleet which rapidly became snow. The wind was blowing and before I knew it I was driving in a full blown blizzard. It was crazy scary as I couldn't see more then ten feet in any direction and I was sure there was a sharp drop off along one side of the road. I crested the first pass and the weather crested at this point as well. As I head back down the snow became rain once again ... until I hit the next pass where it was snowing again. This pass was lower then the first so it wasn't as bad. The third pass was low enough that the rain never became snow. This was the most harrowing part of my entire trip.


The rain eventually stopped and I made it to Durango just before sundown. I went downtown to look for some food. Most of the stores were closed. It seemed like a nice place. I thought about staying a day to take the train up to Silverton and back but, I was reading Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle's
Lucifer's Hammer, a book about a collision of an asteroid with the Earth, and this piqued my interest in visiting Meteor Crater.

The next morning, after a hearty Denny's breakfast, I drove to
Four Corners and did the cheesy tourist thing and walked around all four states before taking route 666 to Gallop. Route 666 has been renumbered since 1995 to 491 to allay the complaints about the religious significance of the number and because it was getting too expensive to replace all the stolen signs - Heh.

After lunch in Gallop I drove through Winslow, AZ made famous by the Eagle's song "
Take It Easy" and stopped at Meteor Crater just west of the town. I was surprised to see that it is a privately owned and not run by the park service. I thought I had missed the last guided tour but I had forgotten to change my watch (Arizona doesn't observe Daylight Savings) so I managed to catch the last tour. They don't let you walk around the entire crater and the tour only takes you about a quarter way around. It was still interesting. {A little side story. When I was dating the wife, I called her from a flight to the east coast (My first and only call from an airplane if I recall correctly). She asked me where I was and I looked out the window just in time to see meteor crater.}
I ended up in Flagstaff where I did my laundry in preparation for my next destination: the Grand Canyon. Pictures are
here.

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