Wednesday, June 01, 2005

The coldest road and warmest pool...

Wednesday morning...and I had to think about what day this was...isn’t that the true sign of relaxation! We are off to our next stop in Glenwood Springs, CO. We filled our tank in Estes Park at $2.29 per gallon, but better than chancing running out of gas in the middle of the Rockies! Today we drove 5 hours, giving me plenty of time to get caught up on my journal. No boring drive though, this one took us up over Trail Ridge Road, the highest continuous paved road in America. This road is closed from October through May, and in fact just opened today after Monday night’s snow. The kids loved our time at Rocky Mountain National Park yesterday, but today were a little less thrilled by the mountains. Alan & I still were pretty amazed at the sights we were seeing! As we climbed higher and higher Elly (always our carsick one) started feeling sick. She refused to get out at most scenic overlooks, instead lying in the backseat, with her bucket beside her. Thankfully, it was never used, but we're keeping it close to her.

As we were heading higher and higher the cliffs beside the road got steeper and steeper. No guardrails, either. I knew then I should have bought Alan a set of blinders from that stable last night. Every time I heard him say, "Wow, look at that!" I'd watch the road instead, knowing he wasn't! Overall, he did a pretty good job driving but it’s a still a good thing he had me along to offer advice.

The sights were incredible but the weather was that high an elevation it was extremely windy and cold. We got up into the area called "the tundra." And really it was. It was an area with an ecosystem similar to the Arctic Circle. There were signs everywhere saying to stay on the paths since any vegetation stepped on would take hundreds of years to recover. The growing season at the top is just 6 weeks per year, and they were obviously not in it yet. COLD! Felt like we were in a blizzard. We forced the kids to get out at most of the places, so if their smiles look like grimaces you’ll understand why! They did like having their picture taken at the Continental Divide, spitting just like their Aunt Jan told them to! She told them to spit east, and that would someday end up in the Atlantic, and then spit west, and that would go to the Pacific.
After we finished driving Trail Ridge Road, we thought we were out of the mountains. Ha. We had to get to I-70 to cross Colorado. Well, we should have paid closer attention to the elevation on the map instead of just looking at the straightest road. We ended up climbing back up the mountains, this time into Arapahoe National Forest. This time none of us enjoyed the mountains, since they were no where near as spectacular as those we’d just seen and we wanted to get to our destination! Finally we reached I-70, which we knew would be better driving, and just as we got on we saw a wolf! Alan stopped and backed up and we admired it, took pictures, etc. until Emily noticed it had a collar on and was in someone’s backyard. Uh...maybe it was a dog. Delete pictures!

We all needed a bathroom and stopped at the Visitor Center in Georgetown, which was right off I-70. It was a delightful place to stop...tons of beautiful photos lining the walls, free coffee, tea & hot chocolate, a neat movie, computers with free internet access. After driving hours through deserted mountains, it was a perfect place to stop and stretch our legs.

The drive on I-70 took us through Vail, one of the celebrity ski hangouts. There were two exits with huge mountain home and luxurious slope-side condos. All the workers for those condos have to live somewhere, and we saw where, as the third exit to Vail is full of thousands of trailers, not the RV kind, but the low-income housing kind. Seeing that impacted all of us...I think all our motel tips will be doubled from now on.

So on we went...Alan couldn’t believe how it the whole trip, once we got out of the mountains, was downhill the whole way. He just kept exclaiming, "I can’t believe we’re still going down!" For a hundred miles we went down, with runaway truck ramps spaced every mile or less. We didn’t think we’d see much until we reached Glenwood Springs. Ah, but nobody told us we’d be driving through Glenwood Canyon, with the might Colorado River whitewater rushing beside us. Wow, wow, wow! Unbelievably enough, there were no scenic pulloffs along this road, and not even much of a shoulder either, so we couldn’t pull off, but just kept oohing & aahing! It was so spectacular I even took pictures through the car window. We saw some people whitewater rafting on the Colorado. We have hopes of doing that on this trip, though we’ve heard the rivers are running so high & fast that novices can’t do it. I’m sure there are plenty of gorgeous places to raft in Colorado, but rafting down the Colorado through Glenwood Canyon would be absolutely awesome. Our plans are to whitewater next week near Durango, if we get a chance. Does it not surprise you that Coleman can't wait to do this but the girls are a little nervous about it?!

Finally at 5 PM we reached our destination of Glenwood Springs. We are staying at the Hot Springs Lodge, right beside Glenwood Hot Springs, the largest hot springs in the world. More later, time to swim!

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