Saturday, June 7, 2014

Colorado Utah Adventure 2014

Returned from the Colorado Utah adventure and have finally had a change to get through all my photos from the trip.

This was a busy trip on the front end with lots of "have to be here by this time" moments.

The trip starts out with a run down to LAX at 4 AM on Sunday morning to drop Cheryl's son Jaxsen off by 6 AM for his eighth-grade Washington DC and New York City trip.

From LAX we start the long 792 mile journey to Grand Junction Colorado. Drove most of the day with little incident. Finally decided to pull off at one of the Vista Points to take a break and stretch our legs. The vista ended up being right where the I-70 winds down through some of the bluffs.

As always Cheryl and I attempt to capture as many photos as we can of the unique area. As she was shooting pictures of some of the desert flowers in the area another traveler that stopped asked what she was shooting pictures of. She told him "she was shooting photos of the desert flowers", his response "your shooting pictures of weeds???" Why yes, yes we are actually. It's time to find the natural beauty that is all around us in the environment we live in, and not just in "what we as human beings create". He still seemed a little floored at this but then proceeded to tell us some stories about the area and some of the areas around Grand Junction (which we were still about 100+ miles from).

We rolled into Grand Junction that night around 8PM, mountain time, after fighting some good rain and wind after our short stop to take pictures of the "weeds" and bluffs.

The next morning we slept in a little longer than planned but did get on the road at a decent time. To make the trip from Grand Junction up over the Rockies and through the Eisenhower Tunnel at an elevation of 11,158 ft above sea level. The Nisan Sentra rental car was having a little bit of a struggle with this elevation. At times it sounded like the rubber band was going to break that the very angry squirrel was running on.

But we made it and started the decent down toward Denver area.

Then at one point in the downward journey we caught a pothole in the road that was almost the size of the rental car that jumped out from another vehicle in front of us. Tried to avoid hitting the crater, but alas it was just to large and "bounced" right through it with the front drivers side tire. At this point it sounded like the squirrel had had enough and was hissing at us after all the effort of the last two days. Turned out the hissing was the tire slowly deflating. And in a "no passing" construction zone no less. Luckily I was able to find a safe "No Parking at Any Time" driveway to pull off into and get out of traffic, which was rather heavy that day since it was Memorial Day Monday. As it turned out, the little adventure into the canyon pothole bent the crap out of the front right rim. As I am there changing the tire to the nice little "donut" spare tire, a truck pulls in behind us to one side and a very angry looking guy jumps out and starts pulling on his front tire and shocks. Apparently we were not the only ones to hit that damn hole that day. After changing a back tire to the front and putting the donut on the back we were finally on our way again, but to Denver International Airport this time to change out the rental car, over an hour out of our way. A few more turns down the road and there were other cars stopped up against k-rails with flat tires and highway patrol cars to direct traffic into other lanes as these poor souls waited for a tow truck and cursed the I-70 canyon.

We were able to get the rental car changed out at Denver International Airport without issue. So now we had a Chevy Cruise. Turned out to be a really good thing in the end because the squirrel's had not infested this car and it actually got better gas mileage (score!!). We ended up missing doing a tour of the Air Force Academy barracks and facility that afternoon because of the side adventure.

The next two days were filled with parades, cracked windshield, pinning ceremony, graduation ceremony, Thunder Birds show and a graduation party. Story for another day, let me just say that we are very Proud of Trevor and what you have accomplished so far. Look forward to seeing what new adventures this career will bring.
After all of the Air Force Academy fun we hit the road again headed back to Price Utah to visit with Cheryl's son Justin. The drive back that day was miss-hap free. The new rental car did great. We made a short stop off in Fruita CO and discovered, purely by accident the Colorado Western Slope Vietnam War Memorial. Very fitting for Memorial Day and everything we did at the Air Force Academy.

We had originally planned on exploring some areas around Price Utah with Justin, but plans changed at the last minute. So after dinner with Justin and a short visit again in the morning and reviewing some maps via my i-pad we were off again on the road.

My main goal for the road trip from Price Utah was to get to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, as Cheryl had never been there before. And to go via Monument Valley, Marble Canyon and Navajo Bridge. As some will know if they have ever traveled with me when we are traveling on a "no particular schedule" part of a trip, I will study maps of the area and try to find locations with interesting names and features and then point the car in that direction and see if we can get there and see what the location is. This drives some people nuts, but it is just how I am. While studying different routes to go that would take us to these areas I noticed an intriguing blip in a road. Most of the roads looked fairly straight. But this one road was straight and then all of a sudden when zoomed into it looked like a tape-worm writhing every where. Now I was very intrigued, but more on that later. So plotted a course in my Tom Tom navigation device and we were off.

The route I chose took us right by Goblin Valley Utah so when we saw the sign for the park we made a small detour to go see it. Worth the little jaunt out to it. If you are ever in this area take the time to go out and see it.

When we arrived it was just starting to get a little overcast which cooled it off nicely. And as is usually the case in the canyon areas of Utah and Colorado a storm was brewing on the horizon. Thunder rolls in the distance and the occasional lightning strike. It was still a few miles away from Goblin Valley as we headed into the valley floor to get some photos.

This place looks just like something out of some sci fi movie landscape. Kept expecting to see giant bugs come swarming over the sand stone features.

After spending about 45 minutes exploring and getting some cool shots we headed back up to the car parked at the trail head and none too soon either. Soon after arriving back at the car the wind started whipping around dust. And in no time at all the storm on the horizon had reached us. By the time we made it back to the ranger station and gift shop to get some post cards the storm had worked itself into quite a frenzy and dumped walls of rain so dense that we could no longer identify the car through the visitors center windows. And then as abruptly as it had started it stopped.

To be continued when I get time. ...