Fort Collins to Grand Junction: A Long Day and Long Post!

We were going to drive to Grand Junction, but Bob decided we were too early to check in to a hotel, so we drove on the Arches National Park and then to Green River. What a long, exciting day.

10:58 AM which will matter as the day unfolds.

The drive from Fort Collins goes down towards Denver, then across the Rockies via I-70. This follows Glenwood canyon along the Colorado river. The mountain pass at Vail is 10,603 feet. We saw things that were too far to photograph and new to us. Like not just exits for skiing areas, but actual snowboard courses with people flying down them. Have seen that on TV, but cannot imagine actually DOING snowboarding, or skiing for that matter. I have never been known for my coordination or sports prowess. Ramps and ski jumps and things that amazed me, people willingly riding lifts to the top. I am also not a fan of heights, so there is that wonderment, too!

We saw signs for Aspen, Beaver Creek, Vail, Copper Mountain, Breckenridge, Arapahoe, and Keystone, all famous ski areas that we had never visited, but often heard about on news and sports channels.

Years ago we took our children to the west coast from Ohio on the Amtrak. The train followed parts of this same road. We were delighted to see the tracks and confirm our memories!

Colorado River 12:25
See the tracks on far side of river!

And such terrain change in one day! Huge mountain peaks, national forests, the glory of the mountains with snow, without snow, river canyon, tunnels, scenic overlooks and then on towards the Colorado plateau of eastern Utah with dry, rocky terrain anywhere from 4,500 to 6,500 feet in elevation at Arches.

Two hours later, 2:35, still Colorado!
Gives an entire new meaning to get out and stretch your legs! People walking along the lower edge, up the path with shadows, and on the ridge if you can see them! 3:11 PM
5:21 PM Long but amazing day! Now in Utah for certain.
5:30 Arches National Park
Is it a Sphynx or a dog?

Bob had to climb alone as the day was wearing me thin energy-wise. He made it into the big arch.

Take nothing but photos, leave nothing but footprints! 6:14 PM
I appreciated the Three Wise Men (shadows) on our way out of the park at 6:40 PM

On our way to our hotel we agreed there were almost more landscape/environmental changes in one day than we could comprehend. Sort of sightseeing whiplash 😉

We also agreed the next day NOT to make such a long day again on this month-long journey.

Amused in Old Town

Fort Collins has a neat district called Old Town. Found these two sculptures there that made me laugh out loud. So descriptive of some of my friends and I. Instead of making lemonade, “You Might As Well Dance!”

Only wish I had taken a photo from the other side where her petticoats showed! ;-D

And if in Old Town for lunch you might as well have a cold one, too! Mine was the stout, in more ways than one!

Fort Collins, Colorado

We had a free morning and decided to take a short drive that our friend Betty had suggested. We were not disappointed! The Poudre River Canyon was cold but lovely. There had been a couple of inches of snow the night before, so everything was crusted with white.

The cold morning was gray and the higher the car climbed the thicker the snow became.

And there it was! One of my favorite photos of the month long journey!

I don’t always realize what will be my favorite until the adventure ends. Here it is!

Thank you Betty for the heads up! As the day went along it warmed up, snow melted and the majesty was as if it had never happened.

Are you tired of our adventures?

I hope not! We had been to the Rocky Mountains before, but wanted to refresh our experience there. Was truly hoping to see wildlife, but they did not get the memo about tourist shows.

Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!”

Dr. Seuss, Oh, The Places You’ll Go!ï»ż

I do not photoshop my photos. Occasionally I crop them and perhaps adjust the shading, but I leave that editing to others to perform. The rocks were seriously changing!

Our first glimpse, and I mean a fast glimpse, was leaving Cheyenne. We were 5.7 miles from the Colorado border. Half an hour later, there they were! We saw places to pull over and put chains on vehicles. Did not have any and thankfully did not need any. We were amazed at how the weather cooperated with us this entire trip! No big storms, (they were either behind us and over when we arrive places.)

From Estes Park, Colorado

We entered through the Fall River entrance at 8,240 feet. Drove past Sheep Lakes, West Horseshoe Park, Deer Mountain trailhead. At Hidden Valley we had to turn around because the road was still closed due to wintery conditions. About 9,000 feet and I was feeling ill. We got out to take photos and I had trouble walking and was dizzy. At the Beaver Meadows exit, 7,840 feet, the elk were posing for us! I was relieved to get to a lower altitude.

We mostly chose to make memories. This is a wonderful National Park. Often wish we lived closer. It would be fun to explore the seasons there, but not so much the summer crowds!

 I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from?  My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.  He will not let your foot slip— he who watches over you will not slumber;  indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.  The LORD watches over you— the LORD is your shade at your right hand;  the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.  The LORD will keep you from all harm— he will watch over your life;  the LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.

Psalm 121:1-8 (NIV2011)

Cheyenne Wyoming

We are tired of staying at the same hotel chain. And the quality of the chain has become so unpredictable. We decided to try some thing new. This is a shameless plug. This was BRAND NEW! Our first stay at a Tru hotel by Hilton. Great for a single traveler. CRAMPED for a couple! We did like the hooks on the wall and the great shower though! Not certain how we might book it next time to try to get extra space in our area? It was designed with young people in mind, including the huge lobby area with pool table and plenty of quiet booths for business work and phone calls.
See the source image
See the source image

We lit out of town the next morning after doing an interview with fact finding Hilton staff. They made it worth our while with a payment for our time. Pretty sweet for retirees on a journey! Cheyenne to Ft. Collins, Colorado 47 miles, (plus mileage into and through part of Rocky Mountain National Park).

Kearney to Cheyenne

We drove from river land into high desert and approached mountains.
“Arid prairies give way to craggy bluffs, table-like mesas, rocky pillars and stark buttes that loom across the landscape.” There were almost more terrain changes than we could process. Our senses were highly tuned to watching out the windows and marveling at the differences 100 miles could make. Overall that day we saw countless Sandhill Cranes, 11 Hawks, 2 Eagle nests and wild Turkeys.

I already posted about Gothenburg and the Pony Express, decorating fences with cattle skulls and some of the other sights. Below is Chimney Rock in Nebraska. It rises about 300 feet above the North Platte River valley. It’s peak is 4,228 feet above sea level. It was a landmark for those traveling west in the mid-19th century. The shape has changed over the years due to lightning strikes, storms and erosion. At the Visitor Center run by History Nebraska, a woman told us of the recent five foot snow in her area. One man had to hook the tractor to the car and drag it to the road. Then loaded his family on the tractor wagon and took them to the car so they could get out to go to school!

Trust me, I WILL stay on the sidewalk!
Chimney Rock

Kearney Nebraska

Yes, you should plan a trip next spring to this wonder of the world. The Sandhill Crane migration is the largest in the world and well worth your time. Your sense of adventure will rise to a new height as you marvel at these birds. Fly, take a bus, drive, get there any way that you can to witness this extraordinary event. We planned to spend two nights there so we could be certain to witness one sunrise and one sunset. We did not book any special tours or bird blinds and yet we saw plenty.
If I had not seen them in New Mexico I likely would have missed them in the fields at first.

Here is a very short clip

Here is a clip from Geographic.

This video is phenomenal. Yes, 8 minutes long, but their photography captures what I could not. Even Bob was challenged in the low light conditions of sunrise and sunset along with the skittishness of the birds themselves! We supported the Sandhill Trust while we were there.

Then off to Cheyenne Wyoming, 338 miles away. As we drove through Nebraska along the Platte River we saw fields with birds, and then more birds!