Am sitting in the airport right now, will probably board in about 20
minutes. Then I've go another half hour to go from this flight to my next
one to Louisville. Should not be too bad.
OK, here goes-
Actually it starts Thursday nite at around 11:30 when I pick up Chruis at
the Louoisville airport.
Friday night - stayed up late loading trailer. CJ allk gassed and washed -
ready for a big trip out West.
Saturday morning - got up around 4:30 and finished packing. Made sure that
Chris's bike was packed. Patty had gotteb all kinds of sandwich stuff,
drinks (inclkuding grape soda), pretzels, goldfish, grapes & apples, and
oatmeal raisin cookies. We were ready to hit the road.
Headed out about 5:30 towards St Louis. Chris had purchased a Garmin GPS
(with a program that allowed the voice commands to include the name or
number of the road / highway you were going to turn onto - pretty sweet) so
we were well prepared. He also had an I-Pod(s) which had quite an
assortment of music. I don't think I have lstened to so much good music
for a long time. But more on that later.
We were coming into St Louis (sorry I ht the send button instead of the
save button) that morning, and decided to make a side trip and see the St
Louis Arch. Chris had lived 4 months in St Louis anbd had not had an
opportuinity to g inside it. Dad had been inside 30 plus years before, and
was looking forward to seeing it again.
We found a parking space for RV's which was free - always a good thing, and
walked to the arch. There was a reasonably long line, but not too bad. We
got inside and got tickets for the documentary film on how it was built and
the0elevatoir ride to the top. Both cool! And Chris had an annual
National Park pass which worked at the Arch - saved six bucks! The top was
pretty crowded, but Chris was able to see his trailer from the top. We
spend around 3 hours there, which meant we did not get quite as far in
Kansas as we had hoped, but we still made Topeka (spelling?) Got a motel
room (Chris was finding them on his Garmin, checking availabilities and
prices with his cell phone, and made us a reservation. Got there about
9:30 pm, in time for a hot tub and swim in the pool. Walked over to
Wal-Mart and got an enormous sub sandwich(es), extra cheese and amberbock
beer. We had bought some mustard earlier at a gas station. That and the
turkey that Patty had packed for us - we had quite the feast that night!
Set the alarm for 6:00 the next morning.
Hit the snooze till after 7:00 - got up and got going and headed across
Kansas toi Colorado. The GPS had us going straight west to Colorado, then
south to the Great Sand Dune National Park, but we elected to head
south-west to go through Dodge City. Chris had (now I am on the flight
from Las Vegas to Louisville - it took 6 days to drive while it'll take
only 3 hours to fly, but I imagine the extra baggage charge for CJ and the
trailer would have beeb prohibitive). Been to Dodge City before but not
seen the old section - with his new GPS we were able to program in the Boot
Hill Museum, and got there without incident. As a note, Chris was hoping to
get 12 MPG on the way - the first two days we almost averaged 15 MPG -
almost 25% more than he had thought was the high side. Way to go CJ!!
While at Boot Hill, which was ineresting, we got to visit a replica of part
of the old town, and had a Sasperilla in the Saloon. After the ols town,
we wandered along the Hero Trail (did I get that right Chris?) and mostly
saw bronze plates in the side walk of the characters of the TV show
Gunsmoke, which really did not make any difference to Chris since it went
off the air 30 plus years before he was born. We did see a statue of Wyatt
Earp, which was about 8 feet tall, and got pictures to prove it. Because
we were in Dodge City, we had to get a steak dinner and a shot of whiskey.
Heard about the best place in town, got there and oif course they were not
serving dinner that day due to a poker tourament, so we called the 2nd best
place and no one asnwered. So we went to Montana Mike's and it turned out
they had the best steak in town. We each ordered a 22 oz Sirloin, but they
were out of that cut, so asked if it was ok if they substitued two 12 oz
steaks instead. We thought that was a really good substitution - and we
had our shot of whiskey. Doesn't get much better than that. After we got
our doggie bags (it was really a lot of food), as Chris stated, we "got the
hell out of Dodge" and headed for our second stopover of the trip - the
Great Sand Dune National Park in the South East part of Colorado. Chris
had been there before, but I had never been there, nor even heard about it
except from Chris. We had a late start after Dodge so there some question
if we could make it to the park that night, or stop somewhere for the night
and get there in the morning. Chris made the decision for us that we were
going to push on. So we pulled into the park at around 1:30 the next
morning. Pitch dark, couldn't see a thing. Did not see we were
approaching the Rockies, sand dunes or anything. Chris picked a spot and
said "Dad, you're going to love this when we wake up". The next morning we
got up and I was impressed with the nmountains but really did not see sand
dunes. It was then that Chris corrected me. I wasn't looking at a moutain
- it was the sand dunes! These were amazing! Had breakfast (leftover
steak on bagels) and went to the visiter center and saw a brief movie on
how the dunes were formed. Pretty informative. These things are over 700
feet high - so of course we set out and climed the highest one. Sometimes
hard sand, sometimes soft sand, we clamored to the top. We triued going
along the ridge line of the individual dunes and Chris said that it made it
a lot easier to climb. It wasn't easy so I'm glad it was easier!!
We took pictures at the top (we took a lot of pictures all over) and met a
man and his young daughter who told us about a neat waterfall back in a
crevasse about a half mile off a gravel road. That is all we needed toi
hear! After making it down the dunes (part way down we had a race - Chris
won, but I came in second!) We headed out and found the sign for the
waterfall. It was about a 10 mile drive up a steep gravel road (we put CJ
into 4-wheel drive) and headed up. Found the trailhead and started hiking.
Got to the fall, and the water was flowing out of a narrow crevasse, so we
hiked through the water to get a better look. Way inside the water was
cascading through a round hole maybe 20 feet up, and then down to the
crevasse floor. It was pretty cool - literally, the water was probably 40
degrees. Hiked back to the trailer and had lunch. Finished up the sub
sandwiches and headed out to Durango.
Got into town right around 7:30 - Chris had used the Garmin and cell phone
to find us a campsite. We got there about a half an hour before they
closed. Not too bad. Set up the tent and had the rest of the turkey in
our sandwiches, plus a grape soda (and a beer). Heard some thunder, and
saw some flashes of lightning. When we felt the 1st drop, Chris said we
had about three minutes before it all let loose. We cleaned up the remains
of dinner, and jumped in the tent, and he was right!! A decent storm, but
then it passed. Set the alarm because we had to catch the 8:15 train the
The alarm worked, and we headed for Denny's for breakfast. We had
disconnected the trailer at the campsite the night before, so the drive
into town was a lot easier. Had a good breakfast and headed to the train
depot. We werew going a catch a ride on the Durango-Silverton narrow gauge
railroad. We had booked the Silver Vista car, which had a glass roof and
open sides. Yes, this is an actual coal fired steam locomotive and cars.
It was awesome. Of course had I had realized that our particular train
really left at 9:00 instead of 8:15 we could have slept a little later, but
at least we were early and not late! We climbed about 2,000 feet (does
that sound about right Chris?) as we rode to Silverton. I was somewhat
concerned that with the glass top we would get cooked, but the weather
cooperated and we had lots of great clouds (with sunshine interspersed) so
that part was perfect. They had to stop and fill with water 3 times on the
way up. We passed a zip line course that had been set up where you could
get off the train and spend the day there. We didn't, but we did find out
that this train passes through a wilderness preserve (Luis Juan(??) where
you coulf off to go backpacking, and you would arrange a head of time to
have the train pick you up on a specific day. I am pretty sure Chris
stored this particular piece of information. This rail was built in 1886
to bring the ore from the mines in Silverton to Durango. As such it
followed a river through the mountains. We saw old telegraph poles and
some old, decrepit boxcars along the way. The scenery was tremendous, and
the company great. Took about three and a half hours to get the 42 miles
to Silverton. There was a toll road that connected the 2 towns, but it
took about 3 days to haul a wagon, so taking it down to 3 hours really
improved the operations.
We got to Silverton around lunch time, and were able to wander around town
for a couple hours before we had to take the train back to Durango. We
stopped at a bar/restaraunt that had honky-tonk music being piped outside.
Even though the piano music was piped in, we thought we'd give it a shot.
We were amazed when we went in to find a real, live piano player! We each
got a Rueben sandwich, fries and a Durango brewed beer (that's when we
found out we each like Rueben sandwiches) and were entertained by the piano
player. You would have loved him Danny! He played Scott Joplin, moved
effortlessly to Beethoven, and lots in between. Had a long(ish) white
beard. A felt cowboy hat and a felt vest. It was great, and he played the
whoile time we're were there, more than an hour!
We saw some intersting stores, but then it was time to head back. Got back
on board and headed down the mountain. This trip only took a couple hours
'cuz we were mostly going downhill. Only had to stop for water once,
although we had our our stwerdess on our car, and we were offered water
(which we accepted frequently), or hot cider, or blankets if we were cold -
pretty sweet. It clouded up and started to rain. Chris thought it would
only get better if it rained really hard, with big drops and lots if wind.
He got his wish - lot's of fun. Finally got back to Durango arounf 6:30,
just in time to go to Walmart for an electrical outlet car adapter, mutiple
plugs, and some candy for the movie. Movie?? Yep, we got to see The Dark
Knight at 8:00 that night. Talk about action packed. We did not set the
alarm for the next morning.
Next morning we rehooked the trailer, broke camp and headed for Bryce
Canyon in Utah. On the way there we stopped at 4 corners, where Arizona,
New Mexico, Utah and Colorade meet. Only place on the country where that
happens. Then we had a frybread from the vendor who was stationed there.
This is on a Native American Reservation, and there were lots of little
shops but all we wanted was the frybread. Chris got his with cheese, I had
mine with powdered sugar, cinnamon and honey. Really good!
Next stop was a cliff dwelling. Chris, you'll have to help me here - I do
not remember the name of this one. This one is also on a reservation, a
lot smaller than Mesa Verde, but quite impressive. We could look at it
across the canyon, but it was prwtty neat. We also saw fossilized dinosaur
footprints there. Pretty cool. Then onto Bryce.
We pulled into Bryce Canyon Wednesday late afternoon. Before we found a
campsite Chris drove over to the lodge (annual park pass worked here also),
and said come on Dad. So we got ouit of the truck and walked up a small
hill. The wind was blowing through the Ponderosa pines and sounded
wonderful. As we got closer to the top of the incline, the trees just
ended, abd the wibd now started to sound like the wind you would hear at
the ocean. Then we stepped to to edge and I was looking at that the Native
Americans called the sleeping rainbow. It was pink and red and yellow and
coral colored. There were spires and turrets and screens and b alancing
rocks. And that was only looking at it from the rim! It was too late to
hike that night, so we found a campsite and set up camp. We had stoppeed
along the way for gas and subway, so we weren't really hungry, but we did
each have a half cigar, grape soda and/or a beer and oatmeal raisin
cookies, and stayed up late at the picnic table talking and telling stories
and jokes. What a great time we were having! Chris asked if I wanted to
do a trail run with him the next morning. I politely declined, but told
him that a hike would be good.
The next morning we got up, broke camp and had bagels and strawberry cream
cheese. Gopd way to start the day. We boith put on our hiking boots (mine
new, Chris's well worn) and with each of us sporting one of Chris's
trekking poles, set off into the Canyon. Technically it is not a canyon,
it is a series of amphetheaters (sp?), but regardless its is stunning. The
park service has built a path through the canyon, being as inobtrusive as
possible, making it look "natural" and yet allowing inexperienced hikers to
enjoy the beauty of the formations. We hiked for about 3 miles - lots of
ups and downs. Even though we each took lots of pictures, they probably
won't capture the magnificance of this place. Thanks for taking me there
Chris. Although upon refecting on that mornings events, I think we ate the
bagels and strawberry creamcheese after the hike!
After we left Bryce Canyon, we headed for Las Vegas. There we were going
to drop off Chris's trailer at a rental storage facility that he had found
on line before we had left Louisville. As we caught site of Las Vegas
(first time I had ever been there) we both noticed the fog (smog?) layering
the valley - interesting. I had not realized that it would be that way.
Just remembereed the altitudes. We had driven over 10,000 high and then
back to Vegas, about 3,000 (?) Ft. With the help of the GPS and a call for
directions, we found the facility in Henderson NV. A pretty nice facitiy.
After having Patty FAX a copy (actually scan and e-mail) of the trailer
registration to the storagr place, we got the trailer stored and headed on
down the road to (don't remember the name) for a special Casino buffet.
They told us we could get a 2 dollar discount if we registered. Chris said
that would not be a good idea - then I would be on their mailing list.
Good idea - we even paid for the dinner with cash so there would be no
record we were ever there! It was a feast, too. We were planning on
stopping for the night in LAS
Chris - am home now. Will finish in the morning.
(What a great time we had!)
Now to finish up my notes from yesterday.
We were planning on spending the night in Las Vegas, but decided to push on
to see Poo and Lisa that night instead. It was really strange after
driving for 6 days without a lot of traffic at 55 to 60 MPH to then find
ourselves in LA traffic at 75 - 80 MPH in 5 to 7 lanes of traffic. Chris
made the transition easier than I! We made it to Poo & Lisa's around
midnight and stayed up till around 2:00 drinking beer (or wine), talking
and eating Lisa's homemade cookies. It was heaven. Next morning got up
and Poo & I went to Starbucks for caffine, then all of us went out to
breakfast. Quite the repast! Got back, grapped the frisbee and off to the
beach. Chris (Sniklet), Poo and I walked a couple miles along the beach
sidewalk, interspersed with excellent frisbee tosses and catches by all
(and some not so good ones too, but we'll not worry about them). Our
destination was a bar that had 100 different beers on tap. Between us we
had about 10% - then onto the next bar, where Lisa joined us and we had
another 10 - 15% between us. Fortunately Lisa drove, so we got home
witrhout incident. Sniklet and I were served a wonderful meal of steak,
asparigus, new potatoes and pop-up biscuits. We were too full for desert.
It sure was fantastic to see Poo and Lisa! One of those rare friendships
that goes beyond time - it is always there even if we aren't there
physically. Pretty euqinu and definitely gnizama!! Packed up the next
morning (after a starbucks run) and headed down to Encinada, Baja, Mexico.
There was some question whether Chris's kayak would be there, but his
friend Caro had brought it up from the Branch (Mulege) to the Twig
(Encinada), so we headed down from LA to get it. Very busy highway -
probably due to the holiday (Labor Day) weekend. Made it down to the
border and headed across into Tijuana, changed highways to the toll road,
and as we made it to the entrance, found it was closed for construction.
That was no good. Strange city, did not recognize any landmarks, different
language and of course Chris's GPS maps ended in the US - it was like we
were in a wasteland. And in a sense it was; the poverty was everywhere.
Shanty towns all over. Some areas that looked like a city dump were
actually housing for those who were the "have nots". We circled around in
this environs for about an hour - Chris was finally able to navigate to the
right highway, and we off again.
We decided on the toll road, which was a really beautiful drive, rather
than the free road. Per Chris the toll way is safer, in that you would be
less likely to run into the Federales, who could well rob a traveller. No
bueno! So we made it to the Twig, met Caro, got the Kayak loaded onto the
truck (it is almost as long as CJ, maybe a bit longer), emptied the extra
gas into the truck, and headed back to the nearest fish taco stand. Chris
had been talking about fish tacos for almost a year - noew was my chance.
It (they) were reaaly good. We each had two, with an orange drink. Muy
bueno! After that, got back on the road and had an uneventful trip back up
to the border. The passage across the border, even with the kayak, was
pretty easy. Lots of vendors, jugglers and beggers. We didn't buy
anything, nor even roll down the windows, so we got through the gaunlet
Made it up the Will & Elizabeth's around 8:00 that night (day 8), and were
met by a great vodka / strawberry / lemonade thirst quencher, topped off by
Will's famous hamburgers. Visited a bit, watched a movie (The Pursuit of
Happyness) and crashed.
The next morning Elizabeth cooked a gourmet breakfast, with crepes, fruit
and bacon with coffee.
I packed up, and Chris took me to the airport. My last site of him was he,
CJ and the kayak heading off.
Chris, thank you so much for letting me share this trip with you.
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