It was the Fourth of July weekend, and I was leaving Missouri, headed to southern Utah. That took me right through the middle of Kansas and into Colorado.
I was pretty much blown across Kansas, stopped to sleep and then kept on going. But when I reached the Colorado border, I wanted to see more and spend a few days. I could have gone anywhere I wanted to....no schedules, no deadlines, no obligations and no one waiting at the other end.
My first little excursion was a scenic route, Highway 86, into Denver from the I-70. I dipped a little south in Limon, then headed due west, then cut up north. When I got back on the interstate and was west of Denver, I decided I'd best pull over and decide where I was going...at least give myself a general direction if not a specific location.
I took the next off ramp, which led me indirectly to a Home Depot parking lot. I parked and got out the map. It was a tough decision. I'd like to see Denver, but big cities aren't my thing...I prefer the countryside. I'd always heard of Estes Park and Boulder. Thought Vail would be nice to see.
I got out a couple of brochures I had picked up when I entered the state, and one of them was on train excursions. The closest one to my current location was Leadville, a small historic mining town just south of Vail in the Arkansas River Valley. And it so happened that another brochure listed the Highway 91 that lead to Leadville as a Scenic Byway called "The Top of the Rockies."
That gave me what I needed: a destination, a goal and something to look forward to.
I decided to spend the night in Idaho Springs, a town that seemed filled with young adventurous river rafters, then head down the scenic road the next morning. It was only maybe an hour away. It was a beautiful drive, as was the morning. Not a cloud in the sky.
As I pulled into Leadville, I got out the brochure again and saw that the train left at 10 a.m. It was 9 now, so I had time to kill. The Leadville, Colorado and Southern was a steam train that takes you on a 3-hr trip high above Highway 91 in a general north direction, to Bartlett Mountain and back.
After the train ride, I ate, checked out some of the town, and decided to head a little further south on Highway 91 to Twin Lakes. It was there that I spotted a cozy looking campground. I normally carry my tent and camping gear in my car (for reasons unknown), so I was prepared to set up camp if there was an opening. The campground host told me of a few and said to pick my spot.
I paid my fee, bought some firewood and set up camp. Sat the rest of the day reading, working puzzles and enjoying the view overlooking the Twin Lakes. My firewood lasted until about 9:30, at which point I went to bed with a smile on my face.
The real treat was yet to come. Breakfast at the Tennessee Pass Café on Leadville's Main Street. Don't know what it was that captured my heart, except that it was so cheerful and cozy. Nice colors, lots of colors. It was done well. And it had a good menu and good coffee.
It was finally time to head to Moab. I went through the Glenwood Canyon, which in and of itself is definitely a place to go back to. The problem is, there doesn't seem to be any side roads that one can take, only the interstate. I got off where I could to see the rafters on the Colorado River, but I wanted better access than the interstate rest areas. I'll have to do some research.
So, that was my first experience in Colorado. Just enough to make me want to go back. Yet another destination on my list of places to see.
P.S. Here it is, two years later, and I DID make it back. Not only to Glenwood Canyon, but I'm spending the whole summer here in Colorado. I found there is a wonderful hike/bike path that goes the complete 16.2-mile length of the canyon. I've provided a link to that beautiful jaunt at the bottom of this page.
Thank you for visiting these photo pages.
If you're interested in seeing more, please return to the Main Menu at the bottom of my home page and make your selection.
All images within 'The Wandering Chick' Web site are copyright protected. They may not be downloaded or otherwise copied.
Please contact me if you think a particular photo or set of photos can be used in your publication.