Wednesday, October 30, 2013


Notice how you completely lose track of the days while you are traveling? Derek and I spent an unusual amount of time this morning trying to figure out if it was Tuesday or Wednesday today. Yup - we did finally come to the conclusion that today is Wednesday.

Crazy to think then that it was just a few days ago that we were making our way through the fine state of Colorado. Actually we spent the weekend there moving from north to south.

If you recall, we spent Friday night in Laramie, WY after a fairly fast fly by through that state - also mighty fine. We think that Wyoming is very underrated - the area just east of the mountains is amazing. Nice that last Friday it wasn't windy as Wyoming tends to be.

So - back to Colorado. Saturday morning we headed south on the 287 - the same way we came up last April.

BTW - I sure hope I can get this post out - it's 9:42 pm in Missouri and I have only 42% battery power - man getting the pictures figured out takes a lot of juice!

The beautiful 56 mile drive from Laramie to Fort Collins. And if you can believe we didn't even stop in Fort Collins - it was a hard call but in the end we decided that we had done a good job visiting this city last April, so instead we carried on. We would still love to live there but guess that will remain a dream.

This time we thought we would take a different route to our destination - Idaho Springs. So, at Loveland we headed west on the 34 towards Estes Park. Imagine our surprise when we suddenly saw a sign that said that the 34 was closed. You know how it is when you almost think you aren't seeing correctly. But since Derek and I both read it we could hardly ignore it. We quickly pulled into the Jamoka Joe's to inquire. We ended up having a nice conversation + coffee, with the Owner - Christine - she let us know about the highway still closed because of the flooding that went on a few months ago. 

That was very unfortunate for us since we now had to make our way from Loveland down to Boulder on a Saturday morning - a pretty congested area. We sort of got ourselves through Boulder - only one wrong turn that Derek expertly corrected and we were up and away into the Canyon Drive - #119. 

A beautiful fall drive but it was steep and reminded us a lot of our Sedona to Prescott drive last fall (crowded). In the end I wished that we had just stuck to the 93 that we had taken last spring. Be warned - this drive from Boulder to Nederland is winding and steep.

We stopped along the 119 south for a late breakfast. No pictures again until we reached Idaho Springs - I was spending my time digging into holding onto the armrests while we swayed this way and that.

Ahhhhh  - back in one of our favourite places - Idaho Springs. Don't mind Cassia's look - she has a candy in her mouth. A return visit to the train. Since we took a ton of pictures when we were here in the spring I didn't take too many - you can see our first visit here.

After parking in the lot behind main street where you can park for up to 24 hours (which means we can overnight there) we went to visit the neat shops. Sadly we weren't able to meet up with our friends Laura and Danny - we didn't exactly give them much notice that we were on our way.

Other than visiting the town, the main reason we were in Idaho Springs was to return to one of our favourite brew pubs - Tommyknockers.

The back alleys of Idaho Springs.

If you appreciate fine craft brew as much as we do, put a visit to Tommyknockers on your list. Yup - we sampled the Pumpkin and the Cocoa Porter and a few others.

Local boy Austin our server - Thanks again Austin - GREAT service!

We'll have to jump ahead again. Sunday morning we made our way south to Manitou Springs - another  one of our favourite places in Colorado. It was a bit of a drive from Idaho Springs around metro Denver to Castle Rock and down to Colorado Springs. We were happy when we finally arrived a few hours later. A lot of people here in this part of Colorado, even on a Sunday morning.

Last spring we found a parking spot in Manitou on a side street - not so easy with the van + trailer this year. So, this time we opted for the pay parking lot - not bad at $5 for the whole day - it also meant we could come back and forth.

Again, I didn't take too many pictures since we did that last spring which you can see here.

Cassia and my first stop? Why the Christmas Shoppe of course!

A return visit to the gyro shop was in order - hmmmmm shwarmas, swarfel and turkish coffee for Derek. Cassia occupied her time with the chess board and pieces.

Of course, she wasn't going to forgo the rides - cheap fun at 25 cents a ride.

Lots of funky artwork - this was on a bench.

Derek's new shirt from Idaho Springs inspired this busker to belt out his rendition of 'Rocky Mountain High'.

One of the springs we missed last spring.

This time we took a stroll up a street west of the downtown. Nice to look at the houses.

Ours - yours - for only $205,000 - tempting - very tempting.

A view of the downtown strip.

A lot of stairs - very much like Bisbee, Az if you've been there.

It's that time of year.

We also visited with Kevin from Korda - Stick'em Up - a sign and decal company in Manitou. We decided to get the decal 'Hraefn' - Old English for 'Raven' for the back of the van. It took us all awhile to come up with the right font but we found a good one. We'll take a picture when it is up.

A look at the buildings along the back alley on the way back to the van. Manitou was also hit with the flooding this past summer. 

We visited Manitou Springs for about 5 hours - after that we were pretty spent and made our way down the interstate to Pueblo - destination - Home Depot of course. We stayed there back in the spring and knew it was a good overnight place. We did however park in a different spot since last time we realized we had located ourselves beside the main cut through road. This time we were nicely parked beside a tree.

Well, I made it - almost - down to 31% battery power.

Monday we headed east through Colorado and into Kansas. Can't say we loved Eastern Colorado - flat, flat, flat - but Kansas?! What a surprise - we really enjoyed that ride - I'll post that next time. Hopefully I'll be able to catch you up soon - looks like we'll have lots to show you from Missouri as well.

Ahhhhh Colorado - we still love ya - but all that traffic is a complete nightmare! 

Doing a little better with gas these last few days except that with all of this stormy weather we have either had the wind on our north or south side. Happy happy that gas prices in Kansas were $2.99/gallon and if you can believe now $2.83/gallon in Joplin. 

When was the last time Canada saw gas prices at 75 cents a liter!

Off to take a look around downtown Springfield tomorrow. There's a what - a brewery - yup - that's right.


Sunday, October 27, 2013


Once out of the National Parks the scenery really picked up! We sure enjoyed the ride through the Bridger-Teton and Shoshone National Forest. From our turn off at Moran we were headed to Laramie via the 287 to Lander and on to Rawlins. There we would pick up the I80 east.

Ouch! A steep climb! Derek was pretty shocked to see the elevation - I wasn't because I had read it on the map - when I was busy choosing our route I somehow managed to miss this little bit of information - the Togwatee Pass. During the ascent it reminded me of the last time I made this mistake - sheesh!

A LOT of snow at this elevation.

Cassia was out as quick as a snow bunny- SNOW!!! Mountains equal snow in Cassia's world.

Beautifully coloured rock just west of Dubois. We can see why this area was settled.

On the main strip in Dubois - not exactly sure what it is but it looks like they have parties there maybe Skull and Bones, Bohemian Grove style ;-)!

We saw a few of these around town - obviously a lot of hunting going on in these parts.

Pizza! We stop for pizza. This just shows that a sign on the highway works - we stopped for gas on our way in - it was dinner time - we saw the Paya' Deli sign and we were there.

We were surprised to see Raven's brew coffee from Ketchikan way down here in Wyoming. We are big fans of the Raven's Brew Coffee and the artwork - we have this poster and three others packed away back in Canada. We found our first poster by in Hyder, Alaska during our honeymoon trip way back in 2002.

And we just have to say that this is one of THE BEST pizzas we've ever eaten. Remember Moonspin Pizza from two winter's ago in Thomasville, Georgia? It's a very very close second.

We were planning on stealth camping in Dubois since it was dark when we finally left the pizza place. We did see a park on our way in and went to check it out but alas there was a no camping sign. We may park in some unusual places but never if there is a sign. In the end we decided to drive in even though we don't like driving in the dark - about 20 minutes up we found a pullout and stopped for the night. In the morning Derek took a picture of the historical marker sign.

Not long after we left we headed into a red rock area - and then just past this we noticed a parking lot. Of course, by the time we saw it we sailed past it - as we usually do - just a quick U turn in the middle of the highway and we went right back.

We were glad we did - seems to be a horse riding/ ATV/ hiking area - not long after we arrived this girl and her horse did - Cassia and I went to say hello.

We were excited to finally do some hiking!

A nice easy climb but by about a mile or so in we were done - pretty hot and the trail seemed to lead forever. We stopped for a break before heading back.

Cassia, our little artist, used her time to do some drawing.

We could not ask for better weather these last few days.

Highway flag people - be afraid ..... be very afraid.

Nothing too special about this picture except that this is Sweetwater Station. We didn't stop this time but driving by marked a complete circle for us over the last six months. If you recall, we stopped here last April on our ride back to Canada.

Ahhhh - Wyoming ......

There is a ton of history along this route. I recalled from our last trip passing by Split Rock - we didn't stop but this time we did. Sure would have been neat to watch all the people on the Oregon Trail.

'Cassia Little Climber'

Derek and Cas at the top!

A nice rest area with picnic tables among the rocks.

My guess is that Cassia could have spent a week - at least - climbing around the rocks.

You wouldn't believe how cold the water was - how do kids do that?!

Derek climbed back up the big rocks and took a picture back at Cassia and I.

He went up to get this picture......

and a few others.

Us .....

and Us.

Continuing on.

What else do you do while waiting yet again for your turn during road construction - Hey - there we are - all twisted up.

A quick jump ahead - we are now on the I80 between Rawlins and Laramie. You really have to wonder about living in a State with so much snow fencing - there was a ton on the 287 as well. The Class C ahead of us? From Ontario - strange - heading home or?

Another memory picture from last spring..... remember exit 272 - we sure do!

Another 28 miles and we arrived in Laramie. Without a Home Depot is wasn't our first choice on a place to spend the night. However we did need some supplies so we headed to Walmart - with the sun setting we decided to stay there - we were not alone - at least five other RV's in the parking lot.  Derek spoke to one fellow the next morning - heading from Minnesota to Yuma. 

Another three times over the Continental Divide - for a total of 6 crossings in two days.


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