Sunday, July 25, 2010

Road Trip

We've been away on a driving trip for the past eight days, covering about 2500 miles across New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, and Arizona. One night in Las Vegas NM - if you're ever through there avoid the Hillcrest restaurant at all costs. Four nights in Boulder while Katie attended a meeting. Son Jason and I ventured to the upper reaches of the Poudre River (lower reaches have been taken over by river rafters and kaykers), where we caught a few trout. Top photo shows a nice-sized, native trout that appears to be a cutthroat/rainbow hybrid - all trout released quickly. A thunderstorm chased us off the river, and we drove in light rain and showers all the way to northern Denver suburbs. Katie and I got to the Denver Art Museum on Wednesday and found that we far prefer the Milwaukee Art Museum.
Thursday the 22nd we drove west across Colorado on I-40 and ended the day at Arches National Park - highly recommended and very beautiful, although much more crowded than when Edward Abbey worked there (as per his classic book, "Desert Solitaire"). Stayed in Moab, which is a busy and very active mini-metropolis tucked into a spectacular setting along the Colorado River. Returned to Arches in morning for some more photos, and then drove off to Winslow, Arizona, for our last night on the road. Winslow is known to Eagles fans as the "..standing on a corner.." town of "Take it Easy." However, it was also home to one of the famous Fred Harvey railroad hotels before WWII, La Posada, which is a favorite of ours. The hotel is slowly being restored and is home to one of the best, fine restuarants (the Turquoise Room) in the Southwest US (bottom photo shows what was the back entrance during the heyday of railroad travel, when the main entrance faced the trains and travellers on the Santa Fe tracks).
During the eight days, we drove down stretches of Interstates 10, 25, 40, and 17, as well as several blue highways. Although there was lots of construction going on, we had no really bad delays. The horrible road construction that seems to have taken a decade in Albuquerque is finished, and the transit through there was the easiest and smoothest in years. The worst congestion and stop-and-go creeping along was between Colorado Springs and south fringes of Denver on Sunday afternoon. No construction, just the usual really bad congestion and slow downs for this highly stressed portion of I-25. The landscapes greened up east of Benson, Arizona, and stayed nice and green, often damp from recent rains, through the entire trip until we came down into Phoenix yesterday. Best thunderstorm we experienced during the trip occurred in Winslow on Friday evening with strong winds, lightning, and moderate rains. Finally, Arizona is making a big, uncomfortable, and negative impression on highway travelers and tourists this summer - as a budget austerity move the state has closed all its rest areas. Quite a stupid move from our perspective!
More on the weather later today.

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