Our Cross-Country Odyssey Days 27-32- Wichita, KS to Sedona, AZ (July 23 – 28, 2010)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Day 27: Wichita, KS to Denver, CO

Well, the high point of our day was probably going through Dodge City, KS, so we could say, “Let’s get the hell out of Dodge.” But then, when we crossed the border into Colorado, we also got to say, “You aren’t in Kansas anymore….” so it was a “stupid quotes” kind of a day.

We had a lovely breakfast with Dennis and Margaret, packed up and headed west on roads that mostly followed the Santa Fe Trail. It ended up being pretty pointless, though- there is really nothing to see unless you stop to look at some wheel ruts in the rocks. You also feel like what you are seeing is probably significantly different than what the people on the trail saw anyway, so… It did give us a sense of there being something to see, though, because otherwise it was “a whole lot of nothin’.” It was also REALLY hot (about 100, going up to 103), so we had little desire to get out of the air-conditioned car. We had left the humidity somewhere in the middle of Missouri, so at least that wasn’t so bad. We had lunch at a Wendy’s and found out that they actually have a fairly decent chicken salad. We also stopped for gas in western Kansas and I had an intresting conversation with a local woman, who told me she was a farmer living locally. We were talking about the impending thunderstorm and she said they really need the rain, so are happy. She was telling me that she lived on a 2-mile road on which they were the only house. I asked her if she had a house number and she said no. Her address is just her name and Rolka, KS. We also followed the Arkansas River as it got smaller and smaller towards its headwaters in Colorado and we saw some really impressive thunderstorms along the way and some pretty funny little peewee power poles. They were really low- maybe 10 feet high – along the road until they came to an intersection, at which time they would pop up to normal height. Odd. Saves on wood, I guess.

We crossed into Colorado and met up with my cousin Steve in Pueblo for dinner. We indulged in some of the local chili. The specialty, which they call “sloppers” is a burger smothered in chili. The whole thing- they put a double burger on open buns and just douse the whole thing in green or red chili. A double is four patties and a triple is six patties! It was good to see Steve and get caught up. We then headed to Denver in the dark and met up with Gwen, his daughter. Now things got really confusing between Gwen the dog and Gwen the cousin. Both looked up whenever they heard their name and of course, Gwen the dog tried to respond to anything we said and Gwen the cousin did a double-take a few times to things like, “Come” and “Sit.” We chatted with Gwen the cousin and her roommates and some couch-surfers from Minnesota before heading to bed.

Day 28: Denver, CO to Glenwood Springs, CO

We had a lazy morning and a nice breakfast with both Gwens and then met up with James’s aunt Judy and uncle Joe for ice cream before heading west on I-70. We had such a late start that we only got to Glenwood Springs before it got late. The scenery crossing the Rockies is really beautiful. We went over the highest point of our trip – 11,200 feet at the Continental Divide. We soaked in stunning scenery and had a tasty ribs dinner in Glenwood Springs before heading to Carbondale, where we hoped to camp. But, Alas!, the Mountain Fair in that town squashed our plans. We ended up going back to Glenwood Springs and staying in a hotel, since everything was booked from Carbondale heading south. *sigh* The Mountain Fair also got in the way of our coffee plan the next morning…

Day 29: Glenwood Springs, CO to Mesa Verde NP

It is hard to describe the beautiful scenery, really. I feel like my blog becomes a “bitch, whine, moan and complain about the weather” blog rather than truly expressing the beauty we have seen. Unfortunately (or fortunately), it has been clear in the daytime, when we see stuff, and pouring on us at night, leading to the perennially wet tent and grouchy husband. We so enjoyed the beautiful cliffs and rocks heading south from Glenwood Springs… we had a nice picnic lunch at a little state park with a lake, headed further south through Ridgway and into stunning scenery again… It is hard to describe. We liked the little town of Ouray SO MUCH…. Let me see if I can describe it…. High mountains on all sides… rocks in a striped pattern, but not the red and white of the Grand Canyon, instead a “heathery” palette of dark greys, burgundies and slates. The town, lined with Victorian homes and other buildings, sits like it’s in a little nest of mountains. It’s just incredible. It is hands-down our favorite spot to come back to and spend a week. The road then climbs up switchbacks with amazing side of-the-canyon views down into the gorge of the San Juan River. Scary and cool. Honestly, Silverton and Durango were a bit of a let-down after Ouray. Who knew?

The rainclouds startted glowering at Durango and threw off our plans to go to Mesa Verde that evening. By the time we reached the campground at the entrance to the park, the black clouds made it clear that the park would have to wait a day. The campground had far and away the nicest bathrooms we have used (brand new and lovely) and we ate a cold supper of chef’s salad as the rain poured down on our tent (again). *sigh*

Day 30: Mesa Verde to Grand Canyon NP

Well, we got up really early with the plan of trying to make it to Phoenix by dinner to see James’s high school friend Tim. We had a great argument, no doubt waking up the rest of the campground, as we tried to get everything all put away. Luckily, the sun was shining and when we did head into Mesa Verde at 7:30 a.m., there weren’t many other people there. We found out that you can’t do Mesa Verde quickly. The cliff dwellings are really cool and deserve going into, the drive is really long and there are lots of places to stop. Oh well. Luckily, we gained an hour crossing into Arizona, but it wasn’t enough.

We passed the Four Corners, crossed the reservation and headed into the Grand Canyon National Park. The rain was there, too and when we got to the South Rim, it was already spitting on us. It was 5:30 and Phoenix was at least 3 1/2 hours away, so we called Tim and Jenny and made new plans. The up side was that we got to stay in the Grand Canyon! Since it was clearly going to rain again, we opted for a hotel and took the last available room at Yavapai Lodge.

It was really cool to take the shuttle over to the rim and then walk along the rim trail for a mile and a half. I really love the Grand Canyon. When I worked in tourism, I got to come to it over and over. I’ve probably been about 20 or 30 times. I got to see it in all different times of day, times of year, and different weather as well as from lots of different vantage points. There is something that the Grand Canyon does to my spirit. I can just stand at the rim and soak it in… It was wonderful to be back and to see an old friend again. James also really enjoyed it and took a lot of pictures. We did get wet here, too, since the thunderstorm hit as we were walkking. James looked really dashing in his black clothes with a bright pink umbrella and I had a good raincoat. Gwen, however, got pretty wet. We ended up at El Tovar for a lovely dinner and got the shuttle back to the hotel.

Day 31: Grand Canyon to Sedona, AZ

Did I mention that it has been raining on us a lot? It seems to be following us. All I can say is, “Isn’t this supposed to be the desert?” We got up and packed up and headed back to the rim at Bright Angel. The rim trail the other direction was also very cool (well, quite hot actually, but with great scenery). It was uphill going towards the west, so the way back was a lot easier. We really enjoyed the rim, took lots of pictures and chatted with other tourists. We heard a LOT of French (les francais, les francais!). We came back to Bright Angel to a minor restroom crisis (i.e. there were none). We ended up in an exceedingly long line for portable rstrooms that included banging on a door and yelling in French at some exceptionally slow women (who knows what they were doing in that room????). As the rain hit, we headed south to Flagstaff. We had a nice cafe and computer break at Barnes and Noble and went on to Sedona. We really high-tailed it to get to the campground before sunset and actually believed the woman there who told us that it probably wouldn’t rain much. HAH! Right. It started pouring as we were cooking dinner. *sigh* The down side of this particular camping experience was that the rain kicked up a fine red dust that is now covering all of our stuff. I quote James, “I’ve had it with camping.” Today we are in Sedona and James visited art galleries while I hav ben working on the computer. We are heading in towards Phoenix and friends today and plan to have Indian for lunch! (YAY!)

Great signs: Porky’s Palace in Holly, CO “This little pig went to HAPPY HOUR”
“Got ammo and worms” also in Holly, CO
“RV park and horse motel” in Lamar, CO
Mystery sign: “Cowboy Shoot Today” (??) on CO-92 east of Delta

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