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Week 29: Ending 6/1/2003
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 25, 2003 5:26 pm    Post subject: Week 29: Ending 6/1/2003 Reply with quote

Week 29: Ending June 1, 2003

Cheyenne, KOA, easy access, right off the Interstate. A relatively new campground, so the trees are too young to provide any shade. Lilacs are in bloom at the entrance and the owner Michael is super helpful.

We drive to downtown Cheyenne (in the Tahoe). First stop is Wyoming Home, a unique and unusual department store for “those who love the West!” Next is the Plains Hotel for a cup of coffee and to admire the renovations. The new/old décor is a nice combination of Mission, Art Deco and the Wild West. Just around the corner is the Mabel Strickland Cowgirl Museum and Shop. Unfortunately, the owner is closing the store (the very next day, as a matter of fact) due to downtown construction. The museum is to be relocated and her merchandise found online. Across the street is The Wrangler, a retail shop offering Western gear for the whole family, along with gifts, etc. Ostrich leather is all the rage now for boots and belts, according to one of their salesmen. We saw some very interesting boots, but none really called to us to put on some spurs!

Cheyenne is a small state capitol with a population of only about 50,000 people. Being Boston natives, we found the driving around Cheyenne downtown a breeze! We headed north to tour some of the public buildings. The Wyoming Arts Council Gallery is currently featuring a sculptural exhibit with a fish motif. There are some nice hand-thrown ceramic pieces and neat fish sculptures created with grains of rice, another with copper pennies and still another fashioned from sunflower seeds. This is truly amazing and very detailed art, all of which is available for purchase. One of those three-dimensional fish would look very nice on display back home! The gallery curator suggested we visit the Wyoming State Museum and the State Capitol, both a few minutes away.

We tackled the Museum first, since it closed earliest. Very interesting state history with some creative displays. It is an absolutely stellar day, sunny, mild breeze, temps in the 70s. Back home, it has been raining non-stop for days, with no end in sight. It is a joy to walk to the State Capitol with hardly any traffic at rush hour. The State Capitol building is beautiful, with a magnificent gold dome (although not as large as Boston’s!) and a fair-sized stuffed bison inside.

Onward to Denver, west on I-80 and then south on I-25. We stop just north of Denver for a lengthy Camping World visit and shop. We spend so much time at Camping World that we decide to bypass the Denver Mint and get on to I-70 West. It is late in the day and the elevation is climbing rapidly: 7,000 feet and still climbing. Our engine overheats on a very steep incline and we are lost. Two different vehicles stop to offer assistance. We finally follow one driver to a somewhat large shopping center where we can turn around and get back on track. It is a harrowing experience. The Golden, CO WalMart awaits us with a beautifully landscaped lot with tons of evergreens and pine trees. It was the most expensive WalMart built to date because they had to carve it out of the mountain. The pharmacist here was originally from upstate NY an d had attended school in Boston. She loves it here in Golden: four seasons, mild climate, snow does not last long on the ground. I do not think we are convinced to move yet.

We depart at 6:15 am for an uneventful ride along I-70. We pull into a rest stop in Parachute, CO and meet a young couple traveling cross-country from Boston to California in a sedan. We wish them well. Our next stop is the RV Ranch @ Grand Junction, CO, the highest TL rated campground in CO. It is a very pretty campground, with grass and mature trees at most sites and lots of flowers in bloom. This is high desert country and the mountains do loom large near the campground.
Once we are registered and the motorhome is set up, we take off in the Tahoe to take in some sights. It is 90+ degrees outside, so we decide against trekking along the Dinosaur Trail. We opt instead for the air-conditioned comfort of the Western Colorado Museum of Dinosaurs. Dinosaur fossils are abundant in this section of Colorado. It is a neat museum with a fair number of dinosaur remains (reproductions), interactive exhibits and even real paleontologists at work in a lab. Even though we stopped at every exhibit and partook in the different activities, we are finished with the museum in about an hour, even after visiting the gift shop. We feel a little short-changed for the $7.00 apiece admission fee.

The Tahoe has been making strange noises the past few days. Ron thinks it is a U-joint and it is sounding worse. We have to get to a mechanic. Of course, we are just entering the Colorado National Monument, a twisty 23-mile+ stretch lies ahead us before we get back to civilization in Grand Junction. Or we could return to Fruita, 10 miles in the other direction. Ron decides to take the scenic route. We didn’t take too many pictures because of the truck problem, but as you can see, it is pretty. A lot of pink and red rock surrounds us in some incredible formations.

We return to Grand Junction in one piece and find a repair shop that can move some other customers around to take care of us immediately. About an hour later and $100 poorer, the Tahoe is sounding great again. It was the U-joint: complete toast.
Hillbilly music from New Mexico serenades us from the row behind as we grill up a few steaks and burgers. The sky grows dark, the wind grows fierce and it starts to rain in what was to become an evening ritual.

Laid-back day for Ron to rest and Joan to do laundry.

Grand Junction is known for its outdoor Art on the Corner gallery, so we drive downtown and stroll about. The sculptures range in size from one foot metal bumble bee to an eight-foot tall stainless steel buffalo. Browsing through local art and gift shops make for an enjoyable afternoon.

A severe thunderstorm delays our departure. On the road again on I-70 West into Utah and onto US 6 West. We debated about the virtues of traveling south to Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks. We decide to pass on those natural treasures and head north.

Definitely in the desert now. Very reminiscent of Death Valley with immense multi-colored layers mountains of sand. Strange monoliths and towering mesas surround us both near and far from the road. As we drive through the towns of Price, the stone walls draw closer and seem more ready to cascade rocks upon us, all at elevations of over 6000 feet.
Another 65 miles, we reach I-15 North and or base for the next couple of days, East Bay RV Park, in Springville, UT. The campground office closes early on Sunday, so we escort ourselves to our site. Joan checks out the town for groceries and dinner. Quite a few businesses are closed on Sunday (and they say Boston has Blue Laws!). A friendly 7-Eleven clerk gives directions to a grocery store that is open and we settle in for the night.
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