Cross-Country Sprint

Days 41 & 42: June 9 & 10
Start: Colorado Springs, CO
Via: Kansas City, MO
States Visited: Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky
End: Louisville, KY
Miles Driven: 1,081
Total Miles: 7,653

Apparently, silence isn’t golden. There has been some concern that we’ve fallen off the face of the earth since we haven’t posted in a couple of days.

With the motoring we’ve been doing, there hasn’t been much to report. We sprinted across the country over two days to get to Kentucky. We’re spending a few days here before hitting the Bourbon Trail, the Great Smoky Mountains and the Blue Ridge Parkway.

We stopped in Louisville to have a short respite before moving on. Thanks to the HUGE number of hotel nights, we already earned a free night in the Drury; in fact, we earned a lovely suite! It just so happens that a former Firetide colleague, Shelly Swift, moved to Louisville about five years ago. So I looked her up and we went out for drinks at Mojito’s. YUM!

To make our sprint as short as possible, we (unfortunately) ran the Interstate to get here. That’s why there’s a severe lack of pictures. Billboards, exit signs, pasture lands. However, you’ll find the most interesting pictures below, PLUS a plethora of dog pictures. Joe was expecting them.

CANDY!

CANDY! Tom knows that I cannot resist CANDY!

Filler up!

Filler up!

Crossing the...um...which river is this?

Crossing the…um…which river is this?

Jasmine loves the Drury Inn & Suites

Jasmine loves the Drury Inn & Suites

Playful pups

Playful pups

Tickle me Juliet!

Tickle me Juliet!

OOOF! That's the SPOT!

OOOF! That’s the SPOT!

A content pup

A content pup. Traveling with dogs is so great!

Did you say DINNER?

Did you say DINNER?

A scratch is all it takes to make this girl happy

A scratch is all it takes to make this girl happy

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Rocky Mountain High (Colorado)

Day 40: Saturday, June 8, 2013
Start: Fort Collins, CO
End: Colorado Springs, CO
Miles Driven: 343
Total Miles: 6,572

Today’s travels took us up into (and on top of) the Rockies. Even though we only traveled from Fort Collins to Colorado Springs, we covered some serious landscape.

We stayed in Fort Collins so we could have easier access to Rocky Mountain National Park. We woke up early, packed up and headed for the park. Our approach to the park said it all…the John Denver song kept playing in my head (hence the title of this post).

I don’t think any of my pictures can do the park justice. Stunning vistas, a trail that skirted one of the highest peaks, and roads that were so steep (and scenic) that I had to avert my eyes (my fear of heights really kicked into high gear on this one).

However, being up there, overlooking the vast forests, peaks and valleys…I felt like I was on top of the world.

On the way to Rocky Mountain National Park

On the way to Rocky Mountain National Park

Hello Rockies!

Hello Rockies!

Vast beauty of the Rockies

Vast beauty of the Rockies

Mountains, valleys, sheer cliffs...oh my!

Mountains, valleys, sheer cliffs…oh my! (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

At the top

At the top (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

Atop the Trail Ridge Road Scenic Byway

Atop the Trail Ridge Road Scenic Byway

EEK! Where does the road go?

EEK! Where does the road go? It looked like the road just ended…14,000 feet up!

After we left the Rocky Mountain National Park, we continued on our scenic journey through the Arapaho National Forest, past Winter Park and Copper Mountain, down across the Top of the Rockies Scenic Byway, through both the Pike National Forest and the San Isabel National Forest, past Pike’s Peak and down to Colorado Springs. We saw some substantial mountains, including Mt. Elbert (at 14,433 feet, the highest peak in Colorado) and a group of mountains named after colleges (Oxford, Harvard, Columbia, Princeton). We even stopped at the Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument. A busy day, but SO very pretty!

Of course, our two back-seat drivers were happy to be with us. We’ve noticed that they are more curious about where we are (especially when the car stops). They couldn’t be more pleasant travel companions!

Where to next?

Where to next?

Tomorrow is the first of two ‘power motor’ days to get us across the plains and back to Kentucky. I don’t know if there will be anything to report…but then again, cute pictures of the pups might be in order!

Motoring Across Wyoming

Day 39: Friday, June 7, 2013
Start: Jackson, WY
End: Fort Collins, CO
Miles Driven Today: 466
Total Miles: 6,229

We’re moving! We ‘turned the corner’ in Jackson and are finally heading back East. Towards home. Hm. Where’s that again?

We opted not to go to South Dakota (Rushmore, Badlands) and instead spend a day seeing the Rockies and then motoring towards Kentucky, Tennessee, the Smoky Mountains and the Blue Ridge Parkway. That will put us on a path home before our hard deadline (Tom has a Woodturning conference in Tampa on the 27th).

Today’s drive was about making tracks and putting us in a position to see Colorado tomorrow. We said ‘goodbye’ to the Grand Tetons and headed through the Teton National Forest and the Shoshone National Forest on our way to Fort Collins. The forest drives were great, but we soon came to some less scenic landscape. Wyoming has a vast, dramatic landscape, but we have been a bit spoiled by the roads and views as of late.

Bye Bye Grand Tetons

Bye Bye Grand Tetons

Togwotee Pass - Continental Divide

Togwotee Pass – Continental Divide

Wyoming's varied landscape

Wyoming’s varied landscape

Today's open road

Today’s open road – LOVE the cloudscape!

However, we did have one great diversion–Medicine Bow National Forest. We decided to go through the woods and over the Snowy Range Pass (10,847 feet). While it sounds like quite a climb, the gradual ascent was great. The Pass was aptly named; there was plenty of snow remaining at the top (AND HOW!). Even the lakes near the summit were still skating ponds! It was a beautiful drive, and it only added 30 minutes or so to our route.

Medicine Bow National Forest

Hello Medicine Bow

Up to Snowy Ridge

Up to Snowy Ridge

Snowy Ridge - Medicine Bow National Forest

Snowy Ridge – Medicine Bow National Forest

Snow? In June? BRRR!

Snow? In June? BRRR!

We arrived at Fort Collins around 5pm, tired and hungry. So hungry in fact that the VERY closest restaurant was our favorite option; that turned out to be Denny’s. Yup. And I do have to say that we had really really fresh and tasty salads there and exceptional service.

Welcome (?) to Colorful Colorado

Welcome (?) to Colorful Colorado – But do not pass!

We’re hunkered down for the night. The girls are stretching out after a long day of…stretching out in the back seat. We’ll get an early start tomorrow so we can visit the Rocky Mountain National Park and drive the Top of the Rockies Scenic Byway, regale in the shadows of Pike’s Peak and finally reach tomorrow night’s lodging in Colorado Springs. After that, we’ll barrel through Kansas, Missouri and Indiana to stop once again in Kentucky. We’ll visit our friends Minda, Pete, Sam, Grace and Sparky, and then decide our next move. Will it be the Bourbon Trail? The Corvette Museum? Stay tuned!

Ahhh...a soft pillow that isn't moving!

Ahhh…a soft pillow that isn’t moving! Hotels are nice!

Travel is SO exhausting

Travel is SO exhausting