Friday, May 31, 2024

Second honeymoon, Day 9

After our second night in Gunnison, we woke up early and packed our suitcases. It was Sunday morning and we seriously thought about hanging around and attending church, but since we were packed by 7 am and the church service didn't start until 10:30 am, it meant we would lose half a day of travel; so we gave up the idea and hit the road.

And what a road. We traveled east on Hwy 50 – about the only road east out of Gunnison – and soon thereafter hit snow (and saw some elk).

We had hopes to interview a small farming family in the town of Salida (which didn't work out), but first we had to get there. And to get there, we had to cross the Monarch Pass, elevation 11,312 ft.

The snow grew heavier, but it wasn't yet sticking to the road – and the rental car had all-wheel drive – so we took our chances and kept going.

It was indisputably pretty, though.

While the driving conditions look ominous, it actually wasn't that bad.

Soon we found ourselves a couple vehicles behind a truck ... and the truck was going s-l-o-w. Who could blame him?

So we crept up the road at between 11 and 8 mph. Frankly I wasn't arguing. In these conditions, slow is good.

Some vehicles piled up behind us, but I was pleased no one seemed inclined to do anything foolish, like attempt to pass the truck on this curvy a road in these conditions.

Soon enough we crested the summit, there was a passing lane, and everything untangled.

Spring in the Colorado Rockies!

We made it into Salida. Fortunately the interview we hoped to have with a small farm in the area didn't pan out, because it was still snowing heavily. We stopped for brunch at what seemed like the only open restaurant, then continued on toward Cañon City.

Soon enough we dropped below the snow line and made our way through some rocky areas along the Arkansas River.

We flirted with the idea of heading north to Cripple Creek, but I knew that town was tucked high in the mountains and we didn't want to risk it. Instead we took a short detour off Hwy 50 just before Cañon City to view the Royal Gorge.

This is a tremendous pedestrian bridge nearly 1,000 feet above the Arkansas River, the highest suspension bridge on the country. There were a number of exciting ways to view things: by foot (on the bridge), by tram, even by zipline. However it cost $30 apiece to walk the bridge (more for package deals including zipline, tram, etc.), so we contented ourselves with viewing the jaw-dropping beauty of the gorge from the side.

Here's a tram crossing over.

What a dramatic way to cross!

Here are some pedestrians on the bridge. Must be a heckuva view.

Across the canyon was one of those giganto swings that swung people over the lip of the canyon. Um, nope.

We left Royal Gorge and continued toward Cañon City. You can see in the distance things are becoming flatter as we left the mountains.

Our goal at this point was to avoid Denver at all costs. With the mountains to the west off limits due to weather, we opted to skirt the metropolis by going east toward the plains.

Toward this end, a few miles outside Cañon City, we hooked north on Hwy. 115 toward Colorado Springs, again with the idea of skirting around it. The land took on the prairie look of Eastern Colorado. Rain threatened on the horizon.

Just touching on the bottom of Colorado Springs, we took Hwy 24 northeast toward the town of Linon. What little we saw of Colorado Springs was dominated by military bases and housing, but we made no stops except once for gas.

The eastern plains of the state were surprisingly beautiful, with broad rolling vistas. Having lived for so many years on the edge of the Palouse, I liked it.

We passed through Limon, then headed north on Road 71. Lots of windmills...

...and the occasional huge cattle operation.

At one point we did something kinda magical: We stopped by the side of the deserted road, and got out of the car. Why? Because we wanted to ... listen.

We listened and heard wind, frogs, crickets, and meadowlarks. It was lovely.

I did see this bird flutter to the ground. In fact I saw a similar bird in several other locations over the next few days, always fluttering on the ground. It almost looked like a meadowlark, but without the yellow. Anyone know what it is?

We fetched up for the night in Brush, Colorado. The motel we stayed in was run by an (East) Indian family with the cutest toddler you ever saw (I think his name was Elijah).

We had dinner in an almost-deserted Indian restaurant next door – something of a culinary novelty, and very tasty – and retired to our room for the night. The next few days would bring less landscape drama, we knew, but we were curious what we would see.


  1. I'm loving reading about your trip. So many places we've been to. Cimmaron. That train in the Black Canyon. Gunnison. Royal Gorge. Wow, when we were there it was free to cross! Love how you chose to take the 2 lane highways. You see so much more than if taking the expressways.

  2. Your bird looks like a killdeer.

  3. The Killdear has their nest on the ground, and if come close to it they run away extending a wing acting like they are hurt to draw you away from their nest.

  4. Understand your not wanting to get in the traffic of Colorado Springs, but you missed the Garden of The Gods, a spectacular area of trails and rock formations. Enjoying traveling along with you.

  5. I think you saw a Horned Lark.

  6. More about Horned Larks in Idaho

  7. Indian young people have been dominating the National Spelling Bee for a while, and most certainly this time around. They're incredibly focused and smart. I'm almost embarrassed not to see a better showi ng from non-immigrants, but am also encouraged to see people who apply themselves to making a better life for themselves and their families.
    Glad you met them. I find it interesting the child was named Elijah. Many Indians are Hindu, but Elijah sounds Christian. I would like to think coming here transforms spiritual lives of people as well.

  8. The bird looks like a Killdeer. At least that's what we call them in Indiana. The have their nest on the ground and screech at you and try to run away from the nest and lead you away. They can be really loud.