Sunday, July 3, 2011

2011 Western Trip Recap

Before I start:

Liebe Marcel, Michaela, Isabella, und Francesca
Willkommen zu Hause.
Ihre Reise ist vorbei, aber die Erinnerungen und unsere Freundschaft für immer.

Now for the task at hand:

Time to put a fork in it....  it's over.
(for now)

The route

We had the greatest time...

49 Nights - 28 Campsites
10,515 Miles Traveled
23 States Visited 
13 National Parks
7 State Parks
839 gal of diesel fuel - 12.5 mpg

Deer, Mule Deer, Armadillo, Bison, Grizzly Bear, Elk, Moose, Doodles (many of them)

Highest point:  12,183' Trail Ridge Rd. Colorado
Lowest Temp...29 degrees Sequioa NP
Highest Temp...  102 degrees Palo Duro Canyon Texas.

Thanks to everyone who took the time to write us or leave comments.  They are really appreciated more than you know.   It's a lot of work doing the blog and your emails and comments are what lets me know it is being enjoyed and worth the work.  It's the fuel that powers the blog....
(if you haven't yet sent us a hello....  it's not too late!)

Special thanks to Michelle... not a day went by without an email from you.  We've named you "Old Faithful"  (not that you are old....  Just Faithful )

Extra special thanks to Hayden

Your technical advice over the years has freed me from the chains of wired internet, allowed me to work from the road,  and opened up a whole world of possibilities.  Indeed this very trip - taken at this point in time - would not have been possible without your prior help.  Thanks so much.

Now its time to shift gears and get into salt water mode.  Time to clean up ei' Lean and start posting some nautical blogs while I also start planning next years adventure.

I hear Alaska is nice this time of year.....

The Mad Dash

They say that all good things must come to an end and this adventure is no exception.
We started the day waking up in our comfortable bed in Rocky Mountain National Park.  Our plan was to spend one more day here, then hop down to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison for 3 days of hiking, river rafting and relaxing before we started the long trek back to the East Coast.

Alas..  The work gods had a different idea.  It seemed the last couple of days everything started hitting the proverbial fan and I was spending more and more time trying to put out a couple of very large fires.  This required more and more running into town for internet and phone service.

After discussing with Kate, we decided to pick up camp and head out a day early and make run for the coast.  So...  first thing Weds morning (0545 to be exact) we were on the road.

After a quick stop at McDonalds in Estes Park for Coffee & Lard we headed down Big Thompson Canyon.  We had to wait a few minutes for McDonalds to open.

Big Thompson is really a pretty canyon.  This is the best shot we got...  sorry it was early and we forgot about taking pictures.

Rather than dropping down and taking I70 across Kansas & Missouri I decided to go North a bit and take I80 across Nebraska and Iowa.  Having taken all those roads many many times in my trucker days I just prefer the trip across Nebraska even though it would add a hour or two onto the trip total.

Crossing Nebraska we saw tomorrows breakfast sausage on the way to market.  Look at the little pink nose sticking out.  Poor little Piggies!

Getting back in to trucker mode we decided to waste no time.

The trip back was 1,944 miles.  Weds we drove from Estes Park, Co to Bloomington, Il.  A total of 997 miles.  We drove from 0600 to midnight, a total of 16hrs, and went to bed at Camp Walmart.

Getting back up at 0545 we were back on the road at 0600 (0800 east coast time)

Our second leg totaled 994 miles and worked out to 16hrs as well with us arriving home at 0200 local time. 
 (how was that for splitting the whole trip into 2 halves and maintaining a consistent rate of travel?)

Here you see the normal travel positions of the last 2 months....
Gracie sitting in the back with her feet on the center console - keeping an eye on things.
Lucy hanging out in the back doing her thing.

Thursday saw us traveling across the Ohio River and thru Louisville, Ky

Then on into West Virginia.
This has to be the best welcome sign in the United States

The drive thru W. Va and Virginia is very scenic but very hilly with lots of curves.
Getting back into the east there is so much more traffic which makes it more intense.

Here is a map of the entire trip - start to finish.
Each of the blue points is where we spent the night (or longer)
I have posted this map online. 

If you click on the blue link just below the map it will take you to an interactive version of the map where you can click on the blue markers for more info and pictures.  
Try it - it's cool!

View 2011 West Trip Final in a larger map

Finally - todays self portrait.
Back home.

Tomorrow- A Recap

Friday, July 1, 2011

Rocky Mountain National Park

I am behind on the blog due to a real lack of internet for the last couple of days plus a really busy schedule.  We had planned to spend 3 days here but had to leave on Day 3.   
More about that in tomorrows blog.

We left Denver on Monday and drove a couple of hours to RMNP where we settled into our Campsite.

This is our site

This is a view from the camp.
The view is looking up towards Trail Ridge Road (shown in later photos)

RMNP is loaded with Elk
This big bull was near our campsite

On Tuesday we headed up to the high-country and Trail Ridge Road.
TRR is the highest continuous road in the United States and reaches a high point of 12,183 feet.
It  follows US34 from Estes Park on the East side of the Continental Divide to Grand Lake on the West.

This is a shot climbing from the East Side.  Our Camp is at the far end of the valley in the middle of the photo.  You can see the road snaking its way up, and up, and up.

As you climb, eventually you are above Tree-line (where trees no longer grow)
and into the snow.

A typical view along the road.  It is a gorgeous drive.

Some Elk had already migrated up onto the Tundra to enjoy the early season forage.

I know a few boys up in Lake George who would love to see one of these in their Back-yard.

Crossing the Continental Divide, we descended into the Colorado River Watershed on the Pacific side.  Here, in this beautiful meadow you can see the young Colorado River beginning its 1500 mile journey.

One of Americas greatest rivers, it is born in the snow thousands of feet above,  just a few miles away from where this photo was taken. 

From here it will create the power for millions of homes, provide the agricultural and drinking water to feed and quench the thirst of millions, all while carving some of the most spectacular scenery on the planet such as Grand Canyon.

Returning to the East side, our self portrait of the day.

Tomorrow we head off to....

Well - that's a story for tomorrow.