Yesterday, we had a long driving day. Rich had wanted to stop and see the Colorado National Monument Park just outside of Grand Junction. We decided that since our drive today was shorter, we would take the time to go through the park. This meant we would get into our destination later, but we hoped it would be worth it. And I think it was.
We stopped by the Village Inn for breakfast. We’ve eaten at this chain before while in Colorado. They serve a pretty good choice for breakfast. Today, our waitress seemed to be overwhelmed. We got coffee and finally got breakfast, which was as good as always.
We pulled up to the booth at the park entrance to find a very baby-faced young man. When did they start letting 12 year olds man the park booths? Man, am I getting old when I admit that I just said that. He took our pass and Rich’s license. He was totally amazed that we were from Illinois. You would think he sees visitors from all over.
We drove up the winding road to the Visitor’s Center. We seem to do winding roads a lot on the trip. The ranger at the center had all kinds of helpful information. We picked a trail to walk and figured out how to see the park in the time we had.
We walked down to the cliff face on the Window trail. This took us out to an overlook where you could see most of the park’s famous formations. It was really beautiful and you could see the Colorado River winding its way through the valley just outside of the park.
The heat of the day was coming on and it was really dusty. We returned to the Visitor’s Center to fill up our water bottles and continue the drive around the park. We hit most of the major views, but most had trails that you had to walk to see anything. After the second one, I stayed with the car while the guys hiked out onto the cliffside.
Along the way, we were walking with the same people as they drove to the same stops we did. There was a young couple with Arizona plates. From their voices, I assumed they were Middle Eastern and probably tourists as well. Another couple had Illinois plates on their car. I assumed they were from Illinois and asked where they were from. In a dismissive tone, she answered back that they were from Ohio. The Colorado couple was full of helpful information though. They lived in the area and hiked here regularly.
At one of the formations, Rick was standing at the railing on the cliff edge. A swallow suddenly swoped by him and he jumped. He said that it sounded like a jet going by him. I waited for one to go by me and sure enough, it had quite the high speed sound. I think they were checking us out for the bugs that they were eating. They go so fast and it was a little disconcerting to hear the swoosh.
We finished our tour of the park and headed back to Grand Junction to fill up our gas tank. Then it was back onto 70 East and toward Denver. Through this part of 70, you go through all of the ski resort areas. It is beautiful, green, and winding. There were lots of expensive looking resorts and houses hanging on the hillsides as we drove by.
The speed limits here go up and down, depending upon how bad the authorities think the road is. Some of the curves deserve the 40 MPH set on them. But as always, I love driving these types of roads. They are so much fun. But maybe not so much for Rich.
The other cool thing is all of the tunnels that you go through. They had to get you through the mountain somehow. This was the most expensive section of road to build. Most of it is really just one long bridge to get you over the river and onto the side of the mountain.
We stopped in at the rest area above Denver. The elevation here is a little over 10,000 feet. Let me tell you how hard it can be to breath at that altitude! And some people want to go higher? This was our second time at the rest stop. The first time, Rick was about 6 and there was snow lying on the ground in July that he played in. No snow this time though.
We headed down into Denver for dinner. Rich has this place that he loves to go to. It’s called Günter Toody’s. It’s a 50s style diner with chrome and the wait staff dresses in 50s style clothes. As soon as we walk in, we hear someone shout out, “What’s shaking, bacon?” Yep, it’s still Günter Toody’s.
One of the fun things is the way they treat you here. The first time, the waitress was snapping gum and telling us to eat our broccoli. Today, Bob was slouching on the seat beside Rick to take our order. Every once in a while, an announcement came over the PA for something silly, like “Bob, your double parked.” It’s like a running commentary for the guests.
The food is really, really good here though. Rick got a Jalapeno burger and I got the meatloaf sandwich. Rich got the Gunter burger with a side of Elvis fries. The fries are covered with sausage gravy and then topped with cheese. Rich said it was like country style poutine. In Nova Scotia, poutine was fries with brown gravy and cheese. He had enough fat in that to carry him into next week!
Leaving out of Denver, we were racing in front of a big set of storms just to the north of us. At one point, the radar on Weatherbug was showing purple in the center with a hook pattern. We were pretty sure a tornado was going to overtake us. We managed to keep ahead of it since it was moving pretty slowly. We only had a little rain now and then.
When we got settled at the hotel, the TV news was talking about the tornados that landed and the hail that fell in several areas. Luckily, the watches and warnings didn’t stretch into our part of Nebraska.
The sunset with the storm turned out to be pretty spectacular when we arrived at the hotel. Everyone was out trying to capture it. Rich said it wouldn’t show up on film, so I didn’t try to get a picture myself.
So that was pretty much our day. We move on to Iowa tomorrow for one last night out before reaching home again.