Sunday, September 27, 2015

On to the West

We are now starting our long-awaited Big Trip to the Four Corners area. Having read all of Tony Hillerman's Navajo cop stories, we are going to look over the territory.

Since the first part is just a long slog across the country, I am starting a little over a week into the trip. The first stop we made was in Louisville, KY, to visit Jean's nephew, Jason, and his family. While there, they took us to downtown Louisville. They are doing some renovation there. The fronts of the buildings are considered historic, so they prop up the front, then tear down the rest to build new behind the old front.

We went on to visit a very good museum.  We spent most of our time in an extensive exhibit on the Lewis and Clark expedition. Well done, and we learned a lot. Outside they were having a sort of street fair featuring local clubs and do-it-yourself projects. Gene couldn't resist the power tool races.

Racing belt sanders

After Louisville, we headed for Missouri and Kansas. That took a couple of days, during which we sometimes lost track of what time zone, or even what state we were in. We wanted to visit Gene's cousin in Kansas City, MO, but he was too sick to have visitors. Maybe on the way home. So we pressed on to Lawrence, KS, to visit an old college buddy. We caught up with him in the hospital, about to go into hospice. So far the KC area was not a cheerful part of the trip.

People had been teasing us about crossing Kansas: totally flat with miles and miles of corn and wheat. In fact, much of Kansas is rolling hills, slowly flattening out as you travel west. It isn't seriously flat until the far western third. We didn't see much corn until the very western end. We saw some soybeans, but mostly what we saw was miles and miles of sorghum (also know as milo).

It took about two days to get across into eastern Colorado, which looks exactly the same. Our last morning in Kansas we went to the Prairie Museum in Colby. This is a well-done, indoor-outdoor museum. A couple of the things that caught our interest were the reproduction sod shanty (high-class version with a wood floor and roof) and  a windmill that has folding blades.

In Colorado, we spent the first full day going through the Rocky Mountain National Park, which was celebrating its 100th year. The weather was beautiful for late September (some years there is snow by then). The aspens were turning their beautiful fall colors. The road through the park climbed to 12,000 feet. We got out at about 11,700 feet to walk a short distance to an overlook and had to stop half-way to rest and catch our breath.

We entered the park from the eastern side, which fronts on the flat part of Colorado. We exited on the southwest side which is in the mountains. We then headed for Denver to visit relatives. What we thought would be a short, easy trip turned out to be several hours of mountain driving, through a high pass and down a long valley. As we approached Denver the traffic got quite heavy. We made it in our projected time, but it was pushing all the way.

Next day, in Denver, Gene bought a new tire pump since the one he bought a month ago started blowing fuses. Grrrr! Then the family went to Zorba's, a Greek restaurant owned by Jean's daughter-in-laws best friend. Afterward we visited the Botanical Garden. This is an extensive garden, including an indoor tropical zone. It is well-done and full of beautiful plants. Scattered throughout the garden are statues of horses that look like they are made of driftwood. It turns out they are bronze, colored grey.

We also drove by Molly Brown's home, but didn't go in.

So this part of the trip, which was mostly driving to our main area of interest, turned out to have some interest of its own. Tomorrow, we head for Taos. Will post again in a couple of days.

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