Wednesday, April 07, 2010

2010 USA Tour : April 4th, Craig CO

40Along the beautiful Route 40

When we awoke around 9:00 am we were surrounded by deep blizzard snow. As we had no performance on this coming evening, its was back to hibernation for awhile.

When we eventually rose around 11:00 am it was warm to hot sun and snow almost melted, so it was an appropriate time to commence our travels. Today, our entire journey was along the route 40 that we would stick to all the way to outside Denver the following day.

I had driven Route 40 many years ago and it is still one of the last remaining highways of the USA that is still truly an “Easy Rider” type wild west adventure as it meanders over wild grass prairies, around winding passes of unique wild worn red and yellow rock mountains, just like in the westerns movies. We also drove through small town with wide streets, tumbleweed rolling, wood built porch path buildings that have barely changed for 150 years and even a Wells Fargo bank in every small town still in buildings where you would expect the stage coach to still stop by. Sometimes we passed small communities still with livery stables, that I presume were still there to change horses for the passing stage coaches.

A bit of modern reminder came to us as we passed a Greyhound bus, I assume coming from Denver, taking this back route, with its destination board stating “San Francisco”.

We stopped for lunch at a wildlife sanctuary ….

Ouray National Wildlife Refuge

After a beautiful time at the bird sanctuary the day before we wondered if we could repeat the experience again. Indeed, the day had become sunny again, though perhaps not as warm. Again, this was a detour involving many miles of dirt track, though much better kept than at the bird sanctuary.

We enjoyed lunch by a lake with some birds, and beautiful grasses. There was a lookout tower but from there could not see any wildlife. The notice board mentioned we should see mule deer, elk, antelope, maybe coyotes, and porcupines.

After lunch we continued around the refuge’s mapped out dirt tracks, only to find most of them had been shut off from the public.

Though we saw vast amounts of wildlife excrement, especially near notice boards for hunters, probably to find out where they will be so they could be somewhere else, we saw no mammal wild life. Overall, except for a few coots and a couple of geese we saw no other wildlife, so after being a little disappointed yet loving the sojourn in the wild quiet, it was back onto Route 40.

Dinosaur Park

Further west, after passing the beautiful olde west town of Vernal, we were in site of the spectacular Dinosaur Park, a national monument park, and thought we may have better luck with sightings.

Dinosaur Park is vast, spreading over eastern Utah and into western Colorado. It has very unique vast rock formations in all kinds of colours, rich oxide red, yellows, pure whites, greens and a bit of the regular dark browns and greys. Many of them roll to look like rows of scales on the backs of dinosaurs.

It does have a network of roads for exploring, but its road entrance from Jenson UT was closed with a road barrier, so we tried again from the entrance in the small town of Dinosaur CO.

From the Dinosaur town entrance the road was only open for 5 miles, but along just those 5 miles is some of the most stunning scenery within the USA. The rock formations and views are awesome. Of course, photos were taken.

onto Craig CO

After a lovely warm sunny day after leaving the drifted snow of Park City the sky looked threatening again, so we aimed to get to Craig before dark in case we hit night time blizzards again. We still had over 100 miles to travel and the scenery remained wild, rugged and excited and we passed through some more small stagecoach stop type towns. As the sun was setting we saw several herds of mule deer, many of them crossing the road in front of us, so cautious driving indeed. On the side of the road was a stag of beautiful colours, almost oxide red back, some spots of the same colour and the rest of him white. I’ll have to look this up but I imagine he was a reindeer? I have photos and video clip.

Craig turned out to be very different to the other beautiful small towns we passed through. This was a regular, modern, franchise abundant USA town.

We arrived at the Craig RV park just before dark, and it was a bit of a disappointment. The office was closed so it was self registration. This was a former KOA camp site and KOA sites we have stayed in so far have been among the best. There was nothing special about this site at all, but I will not described more. We were more horrified to read their nightly rates, about 30% more than a KOA site. Claire suggested we go back into town and rent a Days Inn, Hampton’s or similar room for the same money. I was tired and did not want to bother to move now. However, when I went to do laundry and found how much they charge for that, I wished I had agreed with Claire’s suggestion.

I had booked us into the RV Park at Steamboat Springs, about 40 miles further on, but the owner cancelled my booking, saying that he was delaying opening up until mid April. Shame.

The bad weather did not arrive though, but the air got cool. We were grateful for not having to perform this evening.

The wi-fi worked here ok and I discovered the weather forecast for the rest of the tour was sunny and warm for the next 10 days in all the places we are going to. We cheered!!

( I wrote this two days later in Nebraska ….. during heavy rainfall :-) )


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