I got back from Denver almost six weeks ago, and I am just now getting around to finishing my report. I wonder why that is.
We had a vague idea of visiting Dinosaur National Monument on the way back, so we headed West out of Denver on Interstate 70. It's been a long time since I've been on this road. My wife and I drove to Winter Park using this road 20 odd years ago, and Matt I drove to Los Angeles this way 40 odd years ago. Matt and I had a real good time. (Can you believe it? Blogger's spell checker doesn't like Los Angeles.) Going up that first set of hills, trying to maintain speed while carrying a load of furniture, the truck had to work a bit. At one point I had the engine at redline, the throttle wide open and the transmission upshifted. Bang! That was a little unnerving. I eased off a bit after that.
There are three tunnels on I-70 between Denver and Grand Junction. The first and longest is the Eisenhower Tunnel built in 1979, so it wasn't there when Matt & I made our trip to LA. Reading the Wikipedia article I discovered that there is a height restriction on this tunnel, which may explain why we saw so few trucks on this route. For a while I wondered if we were going to see any, but as time went by we saw a few.
I used an old, paper, Gousha road atlas to navigate. It's been sitting in my bookcase for umpteen years. It is dated 1985, and we discovered no discrepancies between the map and the roads we traveled. That didn't used to be the case, back when the Interstate Highway System was still under construction.
The next morning we got off the Interstate at Loma and started up State Highway 139 toward Dinosaur. Loma is a fine town, full of streets with names like L 7/10 Road. We stopped for gas and donuts. Three other full-size pickup trucks, all hauling stuff, stopped for gas while we were there. The other drivers were all wearing Oakley sunglasses and blue-tooth earpieces. I was the odd man out with my compact truck, $2 sunglasses and a hand-held phone.
Hostess mini-donuts, Squirt and hot dogs were staples of my diet on this trip. The Hostess man must have just been there, because the Hostess rack was overflowing with packages of mini-donuts. Guess I'm not alone in my preference for road food.
State Highway 139 is a two lane blacktop with hardly any traffic. There were some switchbacks going up to Douglas Pass where we stopped to check out the view.
When we got to Dinosaur, we drove into the Monument using a road marked "No Fossils". It seemed to take forever to drive all the way to the end, but only a few minutes to drive back out. It was about 15 miles one way, a mere nit in the overall scheme of things. We stopped at the Echo Park overlook. I used to be really impressed with these views, but now I look and I think how grim and forbidding it looks. Lots of rocks, no water or shade. Well, okay, there is a river at the bottom of the canyon, well, you hope there is anyway. You can't see it from up here, and it's a couple of thousand feet down. Be a hell of a hike to find out the river is dry. Just thinking about it is making me thirsty.
Our next stop was a campground in the Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area. We grilled some hot dogs for lunch. The campground was way up above the lake.
After that it was back on the Interstate. The next day the tarp decided to break loose and start flapping in the wind. We stopped 2 or 3 times to try and fix it before we finally pulled into a store in Wendell, Idaho, and bought 100 feet of cord and ran a zig-zag over the top.
By coincidence I stopped for gas near Boise at the same place I stopped on the way out. Maybe that's not so surprising being as there is only one gas station every six bajillion miles out here. When we crossed the border into Oregon gas prices jumped up 50 cents a gallon, and for some reason, the bugs really started flying. We had to stop every hour or so to clean the windshield, it was so bad. We considered stopping for another night, but by then we were in Pendleton, and shoot, we're practially home, so we pushed on and got home around midnight.
The next day we're unpacking and I inspect the damage to the tarp. It was really big, so we had folded it over a bit to contain the excess. All that flapping in the breeze had worn a hole in it, and where was the hole? In one corner, where it wouldn't be a big problem? No, because of the way it was folded it was right in the center.