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August 7th 2017
Published: August 16th 2017
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Day Two: Colorado Springs to Scottsbluff

The day started cool and overcast in Colorado Springs. Philip was up first and walked across the street to a Starbucks while I was waking up and getting ready. He enjoyed the short walk and compared the weather to the cool, soft days we often find in Ireland. Just lovely. We finished breakfast in the hotel—only so-so—and got on the road by 10:00. Mist and rain started soon after leaving the hotel and made the drive through the Denver traffic more stressful than expected. Lots of construction and stop-and-go traffic made the ride slower than expected, too.

The drive was north on I-25 to the southern edge of Cheyenne, Wyoming, then east on I-80 before taking off on the smaller roads leading north to Scottsbluff, Nebraska, and the sights for today. We drove to Chimney Rock National Historic Site first. Seeing it was recommended by my friend Larry, who used to live in the area close enough to see it from the kitchen window of his childhood home. An unusual formation, it was an important landmark on the Oregon Trail when wagon trains crossed the prairies in the 19th century on their way west. We toured the small museum and watched a short film about the history—all very nicely presented. Warning signs about watching for rattlesnakes were all over at the visitor center.

From there we backtracked a short distance to Scotts Bluff National Monument. We drove up the 1.6 mile road to the lookout point near the top. The view was very nice and, I imagine, could be spectacular on a clear day. With wildfires burning in nearby states, the smoke made for a bit of a hazy view. The landscape in this area as well as what we saw on the drive up through Wyoming and Nebraska was beautiful though.

On the road between Scottsbluff and Chimney Rock, we encountered a long stretch of road construction which left a single-lane highway. There was a pilot vehicle that led the string of cars going one direction over the one-lane road to safety past the construction, then it turned around and led the cars going the opposite direction that had waited for their turn. This is the first time I remember seeing a pilot vehicle in the United States, although I have seen them several times in the U.K.

We made it to the Hampton Inn and checked in about 5:00. Since we had snacked for lunch, we were already eager for a real dinner and drove about a mile to Whiskey Creek Wood Fire Grill for barbecue and steak. Gasoline today was $2.39 a gallon—cheaper than yesterday, but a lot more than at home.

Idea for the day: Rattlesnakes may be anywhere.

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