The Journey is the Thing

Old Jun 12th, 2021, 11:30 AM
  #41  
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Inadvertently posted the same installment twice.

Can only delete the post by typing a few lines of something else, so here it is.

Last edited by Melnq8; Jun 12th, 2021 at 11:37 AM.
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Old Jun 12th, 2021, 05:16 PM
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FANTASTIC photos. What a trip!
That's more driving than I would want to do, but if I postpone my upcoming Safari, I might switch to a few parts of this itinerary.
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Old Jun 13th, 2021, 05:28 AM
  #43  
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Songdoc - it's more driving than I usually like too. This trip was actually part of a longer one we'd considered, but we decided to break it into chunks instead because I just can't sit in the car that long.
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Old Jun 13th, 2021, 06:31 AM
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May 23 -

As predicted, we woke to snow.


View from our hotel room

The weather guessers promised a high of 47 F and a four hour reprieve between 10-2, so we took them at their word, pulled on our fleece lined pants and warm jackets and set out towards Kamas, passing quite a few huge waving American flags.

Our destination, the North Fork Trailhead, which began across the street from where we’d parked yesterday. We’d researched overnight and discovered a four mile loop, and figured we could hike it before the weather turned.

Near Hideout, UT we pulled off to take a photo of the distant snow covered peaks – beautiful.


Hideout, UT

Kamas was sleepy on this Sunday morning, and there were significantly fewer people out and about than yesterday.

It was 37 F when we set out on the North Fork Trail. A few miles in, near a corral, the trail markers disappeared, so we took a gander and veered towards Marjorie Lake hoping we'd guessed correctly. Not. Wrong trail. We followed it anyway, enjoying the peace and the views.



North Fork Trail

Marjorie Lake Trail

Marjorie Lake Trail

Marjorie Lake Trail


We eventually backtracked and quite by accident found the trail we'd lost, which as luck would have it led to the river's edge; the trail marker on a tree in the middle of the river. As we approached, Bill spotted four elk, who although separated from us by the river, bolted so quickly that I never even saw them.



North Fork Trail

North Fork Trail


Not a fan of river crossings (last year’s broken wrist still fresh in my mind), we turned back, and although we didn’t hike the intended trail, we still managed 6.2 miles (3:10) before the clouds rolled in and threatened more snow. We only saw two other people.

Then it was back to Old Town Park City for a late lunch at Wasatch Brewery. We knew from experience that breweries can sell beer both for consumption on site and to take away on Sundays, and because we were hungry and Bill wanted to pick up some Apricot Hefeweizen to take home with us, we thought we’d kill two birds with one stone.

We arrived at 2:10 and were told they close at 3 pm so we’d have to sit in the bar (?), even though the dining room had plenty of vacant tables. Another couple showed up at 2:20 and were turned away. They take that 3 pm closing time seriously around here. I guess that’s how they do Sunday in Utah.


Lunch was very good, steak tacos for Bill, a fig pizza for me, and of course root beer, which is my beverage of choice at a brewery.




Old Town was quieter today; still plenty of people, but many shops were closed so the atmosphere was much more sedate than yesterday.

Then it was back to the hotel where Bill spent a very long time in the hot tub, which he had completely to himself. The hotel felt deserted now, as if everyone had gone home on Saturday. Perfect.

To be continued…
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Old Jun 13th, 2021, 07:15 AM
  #45  
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May 24 –

Park City had gotten another fresh dusting of snow; it was 40 F when we checked out of the hotel and loaded up the car at 8:30.

Today’s drive was estimated at just under five hours, and that was without any scenic detours or back roads; the day should be straightforward.

We took 40 E to Heber City, Utah drivers leaving us in their wake. We’d noticed during our time here that if there was a Utah license plate, our doors were about to be blown off. Speed limit signs were laughed at.

Heber City looked like a nice place to live, and it was here that we paid the most for gas thus far, $3.37.

Soon we were on 189, driving alongside Deer Creek State Park, via yet more curvy roads. Utah was proving to be a gorgeous state, with more mountains and greenery than I had expected.

https://utah.com/deer-creek-state-park







We worked our way through Provo Canyon, making a quick stop at Bridal Veil Falls, soon finding ourselves in Orem, where we turned prematurely and ended up driving through town, which looked to be yet another college town (I’ve since read it is home to Utah Valley University).

https://www.utahvalley.com/listing/b...veil-falls/41/






We joined I-15 south and were soon in the middle of Provo, home to Brigham Young University, and one of the most educated cities in the country; it felt much bigger than its population of 116,403, perhaps because it was only five miles from Orem which has a population of 98,624. To the casual observer they’re pretty much the same city.

A short time later we were merging onto US 6 E headed towards Price, passing a wind farm, the traffic plentiful.

Eventually red rocks began to appear, and it began to feel like…well…Utah. Then came more curvy roads, long drops and rest areas, which I always take note of since they’re as rare as hen’s teeth in Colorado, although the speed limit signs were few and far between. And then a suicidal elk, who chose that moment to dart across the highway, and a lone Chevron station where gas was $3.79 a gallon.

The landscape became thirsty looking, the green long gone, we were now surrounded by rock formations. Soon we were in Price Canyon, the temperature rising and the speed limit dropping as we made a surprisingly deep descent.

Then we were driving through Helper, UT, looking like RV Sales Central with its two huge RV dealerships. Bill saying that “it’s looking more and more Grand Junctiony by the mile”. And indeed it was.

We drove through Price and then Wellington, the landscape becoming more and more desolate with not so much as a shrub to squat behind. It felt as if we were in the desert and it looked like it should be hot, although it was only 58 F.




Some 33 miles from Green River, Bill commented that the landscape reminded him of Saudi Arabia, complete with jebels.

We joined I-70 E, and were soon pulling into Green River, UT. We’d done our homework and had sussed out a place for lunch; which in retrospect is amusing, as Green River has a population of 935 and has very little to choose from. Enter Tacos La Pasadita, the queue a tip off that this was either the best place in town or the only place in town. A solid choice.




What can I say about Green River? Hmmm…sure glad I don’t live there.

Back on I-70 we continued our drive east, the speed limit jumping up to 80 mph, which pretty much says it all. Flat, stark, bleak, nothing to look at. We were now 45 miles north of Moab. Were those the La Sal Mountains way off in the distance?

Bill said "it looks like the empty quarter of Utah" as we passed through the invisible settlements of Floy and Thompson Springs, and the ghost towns of Cisco and Danish Flat, the wind blowing a gale, Bill struggling to stay on the road, tumbleweeds skittering across the highway in front of us.

Eighty miles an hour or not, there was no shortage of cars passing us as if we weren’t moving. This is still Utah, after all.

The landscape became slightly more interesting around Westwater; now there were a few hills, bushes and shrubs to look at.

The speed limit dropped to 75 mph as we crossed into Colorado. Prior to this drive I would have considered Fruita, CO a bit bleak, but the drive from Green River to the CO state line made Fruita look positively interesting.




The best thing about the Fruita/Grand Junction/Palisade area IMO is Palisade peaches, Olathe corn, a handful of cellar doors with good wine and the ice cream and almond toffee at Enstrom’s.

And so naturally, our first order of business was to stop for ice cream – a scoop each of almond toffee and coffee, consumed on Enstrom’s patio. We usually avoid this part of Colorado between May and September as it’s just too hot for the likes of us, but today was surprisingly nice – 72 F with a lovely cool breeze.

It was too early to check into our digs for the night, Wine Country Inn in Palisade, so we did the next best thing and drove out to Red Fox Cellars where we chilled on their patio while partaking in an Avante Garde wine flight.





Then it was off to the hotel, where our room was spacious and comfortable, although the tiny TV seemed almost comical after the massive one in Park City. The hotel offers a complimentary glass of wine at 5 pm, so we took them up on that and spent some time on the patio overlooking the pool while sipping not-very-good wine from the winery next door. If our fellow wine sippers were any indication, The Wine Country Inn seemed to attract an older crowd on Mondays (with the notable exception of the family with small children staying directly above our room, who sounded like they were bowling all night).

Winding down...
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Old Jun 13th, 2021, 10:17 AM
  #46  
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May 25 –

We skipped the hotel’s COVID restricted breakfast and drove the 25 minutes back to Grand Junction for breakfast at Pufferbelly’s. We’d discovered this place in April during our weeklong CO road trip, and Bill was hankering to give their cheese enchiladas and eggs another go.

The restaurant was near empty on this Tuesday morning at 7 am, and our waitress, upon seeing us enter with masks, asked if we’d like her to wear one. (NOTE: Twelve days after we were there, Mesa County had a COVID outbreak and their hospitals are 97% full).

Having learned from our first visit that the servings here are HUGE, I just ordered a side of bacon, knowing Bill would share his ginormous cinnamon roll with me – the one that came as a side with his meal. Yowsa. Most of the roll went home anyway.






We were fed, checked out of the hotel and on the road by 9:15 am, a nice 63 F, with threats of 90+ degree temps in the coming days.



Palisade

Palisade

We took I-70 east through Parachute and Battlement Mesa, the plentiful cannabis shops reminding us we were back in CO. The landscape to the south – the Colorado River side - greened up considerably as we approached Rifle, the north side not-so-much.





Soon we were passing through Silt, Glenwood Springs and Glenwood Canyon, the green foliage contrasting with the red rocks a beautiful sight. We don’t drive through here very often and I always forget how pretty it is. Traffic suddenly came to a halt, only one lane open as we eased our way through a work zone; workers were changing light bulbs in the tunnel.






Scorch marks on the guardrails reminded us of last year’s Grizzly Creek Fire, which consumed some 32,631 acres, shut down I-70 for two weeks and raged for some four months.

We continued on I-70 east, the abundance of massive fast moving trucks reminding us why we hate this road.

Just past Avon we exited onto Highway 24, and crawled through Minturn thanks to an RV in front of us going 10 mph. As we worked our way up to Battlement Mountain summit, we noticed that the guardrail has seen better days; evidently someone has been playing bumper cars up here.

We passed through Redcliff, the aspens still naked, and worked our way over 10,424 foot Tennessee Pass, snow-covered Mt Massive to our right as we entered San Isobel National Forest. Those in yo’ face mountains views lay directly ahead as we passed through Leadville under near cloudless blue skies.





Soon we were approaching Buena Vista, the Collegiate Range on full display to our right – I never tire of this view.

Buena Vista was hopping; the town park surprisingly busy for a Tuesday. We turned east to stay on Highway 24 and worked our way home via Hartsel, Wilkerson Pass and Lake George, all much greener than when we’d left 15 days ago. Some five hours after leaving Palisade, we were home.

-----------------------------------

Thanks for reading!
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Old Jun 13th, 2021, 03:20 PM
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Hi Mel,
So enjoying your trip report - it brought back such good memories of holidays in North America. Here in Melbourne, we're in our fourth Covid lockdown. They say you should always have a Plan B for holiday plans and now I think we're are at Plan F and possibly moving onto Plan G. So your holiday report was doubly pleasing to us. Thank you.
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Old Jun 13th, 2021, 04:05 PM
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Oh marg, I'm so sorry to hear about your fourth lockdown. I can't even imagine.

I've just been watching a BBC program about the Australian Black Summer and it's gut-wrenching. I worry so much about fire and here we are facing yet another hot, dry summer.

Australia is always in my thoughts and I very much look forward to the day that we get back there for a long visit.

Be safe.
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Old Jun 14th, 2021, 10:48 AM
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Thanks for great info as usual

Mel,

So great to see you back on the road. I am so envious. Our road trips since vaccination have taken us to Cumberland Plateau in Tenn and Pigsah Forest in NC. Can't hold a candle to the Rockies. I am dying for some snow capped mountains. With normalcy in traveling at least domestically a growing reality, I can muster the enthusiasm to join back on the forum. Meanwhile I was researching what places I've missed in previous US travels to move to the top of the list. Dinosaur area is one of them. Thanks for the tips.

Kay2
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Old Jun 14th, 2021, 11:46 AM
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Fabulous report Mel, thanks for sharing. You guys have seen more parts of this region then I have and I think I've lived here a lot longer than you.

You did great considering you had a couple closed breweries in Wyoming and Idaho, then had to deal with Utah laws!

I actually spent a pleasant evening in Green River, but that was coming off a backpacking trip and probably anything with a bed and real food was good. The John Wesley Powell River History museum there is pretty decent. Also, the little mountain man museum in Pinedale is OK, if you make it back there. (It's a little museum, not one for little mountain men.)

What's up with people slapping stickers all over Welcome signs?

Thanks again.
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Old Jun 14th, 2021, 01:37 PM
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Kay2 - good to hear I've sparked an interest in Dinosaur Nat'l Monument! And while you're up that way, don't miss Flaming Gorge. Never have been to NC or Tennessee, maybe someday.

Thanks Nelson. I grew up in CO, but left in the early 80's, then came back for a few years in the late 80's and again in the mid 90's only to leave again until we came back to retire in 2015. CO has always been home, family is here.

Any port in a storm I guess (Green River).

What's up with people slapping stickers all over Welcome signs?

And how on earth do they reach them?

Last edited by Melnq8; Jun 14th, 2021 at 02:19 PM.
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Old Jun 14th, 2021, 01:59 PM
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Great report, Mel. I hope to get to Yellowstone and Grand Teton this summer. Funny you mentioned dining in Green River. We met friends from LA there once and the only place to eat was Rays, good Berger’s for a pool hall.

Thanks for giving me an out west fix.
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Old Jun 14th, 2021, 02:13 PM
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No worries oldemalloy. Thanks for reading.
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Old Jun 14th, 2021, 02:29 PM
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And Nelson - FWIW, I saw Polygamy Porter in a liquor store here yesterday.
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Old Jun 14th, 2021, 03:46 PM
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That’s funny! Didn’t know they were exporting it. Probably tastes better in Utah.
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Old Jun 14th, 2021, 04:30 PM
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Probably
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