Oh those Mountain Highs!!

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September 21st 2015
Published: September 22nd 2015
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It was way back when I read an article in the Guardian Travel Section about these journalist guys who had used social media whilst doing a road trip to make decisions about routes, where to stay , where to eat and drink . Their aim was to drive from Las Vegas to Denver in 5 days. Right I thought I will pinch the idea but take longer and I will do a return trip so I can fly in to Denver visit my "Colorado family", drive to Las Vegas and meet Suzanne there as she has to fly in from Dubai. Yes, we do things complicated in our family. Lots and lots of research online , reading travel books and Suz and I had our trip planned. If those guys could do it we could do it better.

So it was a week ago Icelandair landed me in Denver ... A cheaper option for an airline flying to the USA with a little stop in Rekjavik and bring your own food or buy it on the plane....they do supply soft drinks and coffee, tea. Why oh why do you always have to wait ages in Immigration ... It seems in every country it's the same... And why do I always get in the wrong queue which is slowest ..GRRRR!

One and half hours later I was out the airport and to my hotel - doing the sensible thing returning to the airport in the morning to pick up the rental car. Tip - Alamo was doing additional driver free. I always put in for the cheapest car and sure enough declining all offers of upgrades and extras ( the guy at the desk says that's only a little car and you are driving in the mountains wouldn't you like a bigger car !!!) when I got into the parking lot the guy there says you can choose your car from that line over there!! So I pick a nice looking Chevy Sonic which has got a nice big trunk and plenty of room for us two.

Off on the open road to my first stop El Jebel, Carbondale about 30 miles from Aspen - to stay with my lovely friends Pat and Velma who live 6000 feet up in the mountains with views of Mount Sopris.

One of the things I love about America is how the road signs tell it like it is - for example on very steep very long gradients the signs say TRUCK DRIVERS DONT BE FOOLED THERE'S ANOTHER 4 MILES TO GO and then a bit later YOU'RE NOT THERE YET ANOTHER 1 MILE . I loved that. Somewhere else - EAGLES ON THE ROAD !! Well I love driving here ...mostly the roads are not busy , there are four lane highways and you always know that you are on a dual carriageway ,even if the other direction route has disappeared from sight, as the driver side middle of highway is painted YELLOW. Pretty soon after leaving Denver I was into the mountains and oohing and aahing especially at the herd of buffalo munching in a field at the side of the road. What a great start to the day.

And things got better and better in the four days in Colorado with Pat valiantly driving me up and over mountain passes and miles and miles of unpaved roads to show me some of the sights. Aspen, Crested Butte, Independence Pass and its ghost town, McClure Pass , Kebler Pass so lots of ear popping for me living at sea level as I was raised up to 13000 feet. What stunning scenery , the aspen trees turning yellow with their straight white trunks they are the perfect compliment to,the dark green firs , rivers carving the canyons , red sandstones , marble and granite mountains , Colorado has it all, such a beautiful state.

It was worth the drive on the 30 miles of unpaved road to get to Crested Butte.. An old style ski resort which had formerly been a mining town and it was very pretty with original storefronts and everyone setting up for a festival adorning the doorways with tree branches and leaves and tables being set out in the Main Street. We settled for the local brewery to sit on a balcony overlooking the street with the special of the day a pint of beer and a burger (& sweet potato fries) Well you have to eat like the locals when you are in town.

I did enjoy my chill out time too loafing about on the swing on the deck overlooking the mountains and watching the hummingbirds coming to the feeders, and of course Velma looked after me so well and made sure I didn't go hungry ! Thankyou Pat and Velma so much.

Saturday morning it was time to leave and drive the 380 miles along Highway 70 to Utah. There are stretches of this road which leave you gasping in wonderment at the landscapes.... This is what I LOVE ABOUT AMERICA - these vast landscapes miles after mile , it might be scrubby desert , or massive canyons and awesome rock formations . You can see the geological formations and erosion almost happening in front of you....AND SUCH SPACE!! Along one part of the highway from Green River there were rest stops with views almost every few miles and so I had to stop at each one, I didn't want to miss anything .

So after spending the night in a motel at Beaver, Utah I set off again for the last leg of the trip to Las Vegas... Eventually driving from Utah through Arizona into Nevada. Yes I am clocking up States now. I will have to make it a challenge to do them all. This is a a great community of people on Travelblog always giving helpful hints when you can track 'em down and one such person is Dancing Dave who had recommended a stop at Snow Canyon state park just about 10 miles off the highway. It is not so well known as the more famous Zion or Bryce Nat Parks but it is certainly worth a visit with its white and red petrified sand dunes and cliffs , and amazingly a lava flow which you can see capping the cliffs in places and then you can actually walk on it and see the lava tubes and collapsed flows. It's also quite a small park not busy , with a good drive through and lots of stops with trails you can take from 1/2 mile easy to more strenuos hikes. So I was in my element walking on the lava flows on one trail , gazing up at the petrified sand dunes next, and although I didn't see any baby tortoises crossing the road ( I was told to watch out for them by the ranger) I saw a family of desert quail scurrying about in the sage ? bushes while I ate my picnic. More jaw dropping scenery as I drove down and down elevation and along a canyon , making me feel like I was at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. And yes I finally have figured out how to use cruise control on the car and with a very sensible ( for this road ) speed limit of 75 or 80 mph I was cruising along no worries. I forgot to add that as per instructions Velma had got me a USA Satnav so the dulcet tones of Samantha guided me along the highway with instructions to,stay on the highway for the next 250 miles or so , but she was invaluable in getting me into the correct lanes and along the main drag into my destination in Las Vegas. This is the second time I have been to this resort which is just a couple of blocks behind the famous Strip. And I feel like I know the location well enough that I can explore a little further afield so tomorrow I am off on a small group tour to Death Valley. And on Saturday Suz flies in to join me and we will be off on our road trip back to Denver visiting as many Nat Parks as we can fit in... So expect a few more blogs .

Comments always welcome ..its nice to know who is reading me. And please scroll al the way down to see all the photos ... I didn't know which ones to choose .

Bye for now X

Additional photos below
Photos: 41, Displayed: 27


22nd September 2015

knockout views
love sharing your trip virtually. yes the scenery looks absolutely amazing. so glad you're having a great time. xxx
22nd September 2015

Experience the unique nature of the highest mountain range on the Balkan Peninsula.
The Rila (an old Slavic word, meaning "Water Mountain") Mountains range in Balkan Peninsula is the tallest within southeast Europe. Standing at 2,925 m, or 9,596 ft , Musala is the highest peak. Many of the summits here are close to 3,000 m, or 9,842 ft, high. Rila looks like a rough sea of mountain ridges and peaks, and boasts deep gorges with no less than 150 crystal clear lakes. The mountains have an entirely unique vegetation , thanks to mild winds from the Mediterranean Sea. A big part of the National Park is under the protection of UNESCO. For Mountain tracking lovers, it is one of the best place to visit.
22nd September 2015

How wonderful it all looks from rain lashed Eastbourne! xx
22nd September 2015

Oh my!
You lucky girl. The scenery and your experiences sound wonderful! Sitting here in the rain - very jealous!
22nd September 2015

I've been awaiting your blogs about your Colorado trip...
you've visited some iconic sights...just in time for the autumn display of golden aspens. I see you are headed back to Denver via many national parks...which there are many including Zion, Bryce Canyon, Grand Canyon (north rim), Antelope Canyon (near Page...not a NP), Monument Valley (also no NP but fantastic), Mesa Verde, Great Sand Dunes, etc. If you pass my way on your way to Denver (US 24 goes through Woodland Park), I would love to meet you and take you to lunch or dinner. Send me a private message.
28th September 2015
room with a view

Wish we were with you
Stunning beauty around every corner!
28th September 2015

Rocky Mountain High
Love those colorful Aspens
3rd November 2015

Nice to see my country through your eyes!
Looks like you have been definitely getting around and seeing a lot of the US - the west is definitely beautiful - we have been to a few States out there, but definitely want to see more. Will keep track of some of the places you have been and put on my "list of places to visit" when we finally find time to travel out there. For now will bounce between our sailboat and the east coast - thanks for all the photos - I always have a hard time limiting my photos as well - as I say, more the better to really show what you have seen!! Thanks again

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