California to Denver

Denver Travel Blog

 › entry 6 of 7 › view all entries

Lemme tell you what, I have COVERED some ground in the last 4 days!  10-hour days most every day.  I am, quite possibly, sick of driving.  Maybe.  :)

So, I actually managed to enjoy Redwood National Park.  That is, I got up in the morning, walked across the highway, and took a 30-minute walk on the black sand beach.  Saw a beached dead sea lion (ewwwwwwwwwwwwwww).  Otherwise, enjoyed it.

The drive from there to San Mateo (just south of San Francisco) was mostly uneventful.  Mostly inland.  Kinda dull.  Lots of trees but, hey, I got trees at home!  The most amazing part was that I drove across the Golden Gate bridge and through downtown SF at rush hour without any real tie-ups!  That was pretty amazing to me, anyways. 

Had a great evening with my friends.  Phyllis and Rich are friends I met while we all worked at Arthur Andersen in Chicago.  They have 3 daughters.  The oldest one, Gracie, is my goddaughter.  They have a wonderful home and a happy healthy thriving family.  The girls are growing into beautiful young ladies with good hearts.  It was a long night and not enough sleep but I was really glad I made the trip.

Tuesday, it was up and out early.  West across California.  Through the Sierra Nevada mountains (taaaaaaaaaaaaaaall and lovely).  Into Nevada, via Reno.

Now, Nevada is a strange place, looks-wise.  Flat, wide open, scrub-brush-y.  I decided to do Rt. 50 ("the lonliest road in America") across.  I thought it was very cool.  Craggy mountains in the distance.  Subtle, interesting colors.  Enough traffic to keep me from being completely isolated.  I find myself enjoying these wide-open places more than I expected too.  It's quite foreign to the places I grew up in and loved.

There aren't a lot of towns (maybe....4?) in the couple hundred miles across.  You can go 200 or so miles without seeing a tree.  I still loved it.

Spent the night in Ely.  Lovely sunset.

Next morning, headed out to Colorado. Which meant crossing the rest of Nevada (OK, that was only about 65 miles), all of Utah, and about 1/3 of Colorado.

Utah had the most variety.  The part just past Nevada is like Nevada....only more boring.  Then you hit bona fide farmland.  In many places I've seen, if it's green, it's because someone has irrigated the heck out of it.  Here, it seemed to be naturally green.

And THEN I hit the part that looks just like the post cards.  Valleys and gulleys and dramatic landscapes of red rocks and striated worn-down mountains and it was just SO cool!  Oh, yeah, I took lots of pictures! 

Then it wound down to some flat-ish bits and got kinda boring again (that is, all the cool moutain-y parts were in the distance).  Then I drove into Colorado.

Now, it surprises me that landscapes would actually change when you cross state lines because I've always found state lines to be somewhat arbitrary. But within 10 miles of crossing into Colorado, it became greener with lots of trees (aspens, I think, because they were yellow).  The mountains also started getting a lot closer and soon I was driving between, effectively, walls.  Not much in the way of views because, well, these mountains were in the way!  The highway was mostly following the Colorado River.

Made it into Glenwood Springs, which is a pretty little town.   Found the hostel, despite the fact that the woman at the front desk couldn't give directions for beans.  Explain to me why people who work in lodgings (hotels, etc.) are often the WORST at giving directions to their place of business?  I often hear "well, gosh, I'm not sure how to get here from the interstate because I don't come to work that way" or something similar.  I can't possibly be the first person who's called them to ask for directions....

Anyways, the hostel was more of the "funky" variety.  Multi-hued, more foreign guests (many doing the hiking/biking Colorado thing), big pillows, funky lamps, that sort of thing.  Don't care.  The beds were decent, the shower was hot.

From there, the next day, it was only a 3-hour drive into Denver.  Only on this trip would I use "only" and "3-hour drive" in the same sentence.  My perspective on long distances has been altered by this trip.

The poor ol' Jeep had the most trouble with the mountains coming into Denver.  I'd been driving at 4,000 - 10,000 feet the last few days and I think the Jeep was just about sick of it.  It was really groaning getting up the last of some of these inclines.

And then you come down the side of the Rockies right into the plains.  That's it.  No transition.  You were in the Rockies and now, for all intents and purposes, it's KansasDenver hugs the line between the two.

I'm staying with Jeff's cousin, Kathy, who is a trip.  A nurse practitioner, a triathlete, and an all-around fun person.  We met Jeff at the airport after lunch.  Yes, it was wonderful to see him again.  We've both missed each other a lot.  We both find that what we miss most is the hanging out and shooting-the-breeze parts of being together.  So, that's what we're doing today, mostly, is just hanging out together.  Will probably actually venture forth later to check out this great bookstore we've heard about, The Tattered Cover (isn't that a great name for a bookstore?).

We went out last night with a bunch of Kathy's friends.  We had a great time, many margaritas because I didn't have to drive the next day!!!  :)  They're all athletes of one kind or another.  I gotta say, there's some damned cute guys in Denver!  I can see why Kathy likes living here (though if you know of a nice Jewish boy who lives in/near Denver and who likes to bike/hike/run/whatever, Kathy wouldn't object to hearing about him either). 

Kathy lives in a quiet neighborhood with lots of dogs, trees, and parks.  The weather couldn't be more perfect.  This is a bit of down time that was sorely needed.  I've been enjoying seeing everything I've seen but I'm a bit tired of the time behind the wheel. 

Tomorrow, I drive to Estes Park to meet some DC and MN girlfriends for our annual weekend of hiking, affectionately known as The Estrogen Event (EE 6, in this case).  We'll spend the weekend in the Rocky Mountain National Park.  Tuesday, I hit the road again for my last 6 days of driving.

So, stay tuned!  You'll probably hear from me again along about next Wednesday.  To all my DC friends, stay safe, however the heck that happens these days.  I'm thinking of all of you.

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photo by: crystalware