Thursday 15th October
Started our journey south this morning. Turned out of the campsite onto the SD-79 south and travelled past Hot Springs and through the Buffalo Gap National Grassland towards the Nebraska state line. We motored across the panhandle of Nebraska passing mainly flat farm and ranch land.
Crossed the state line into Colorado and picked up the I-76 at Sterling. As we progressed west the distinctive shape of the Rocky Mountains came into view. We started to climb until we reached the mile high city of Denver. Stayed overnight courtesy of Walmart just east of the city near Evergreen.
Friday 16th October
Made an early start and picked up the I-70 west to make our way across the Rocky Mountains. We soon climbed into the mountains but as we came into the valley just before Idaho Springs we hit slow traffic, due to roadworks and an accident. It was a bright but cold morning with the mountains looking lovely in the bright sunshine and patches of autumn foliage. We soon reached over 11,000 feet at the Eisenhower Tunnel and descended on a long 7% grade out on the other side with views of Silverthorne nestled in the valley between the mountains.
We were now in the ski area and did a number of ascends and descends into valleys with ski resort towns such as, Frisco, Copper Mountain, Vail and Beaver Creek.
Going through the Vail Pass there are a number of ‘runaway truck’ lanes due to the steep gradients. As we reached Edwards the terrain became more arid and we lost the tree covered mountains. We were over the high Rockies now and as we reached the towns of Eagle and Gypsum the land became desert like in parts with some dark sandstone cliffs. Crossed the Colorado River and entered the dramatic, 12 mile Glenwood Canyon with high granite cliffs on either and the river and single track rail line snaking along beside the road.
Came out of the canyon to the western side of the Rockies and into Glenwood Springs. Continued on past half a dozen towns with the Roan Cliffs to the north. Following the Colorado River past high cliffs, the valley widened into the Grand Valley which is a fruit growing area bounded by the Book Cliffs in the north and the Grand Mesa in the south with the large town of Grand Junction in the middle of the valley.
As we crossed the Utah state line the landscape changed to empty scrub desert and high cliffs.
Our destination was the town of Moab on the Colorado River and near to Arches National Park. The town was buzzing with people when we arrived and had the feel of a holiday resort. We booked in at the OK RV Park just south of town on the Old Spanish Trail Road. A nice quiet site with high red rock cliffs as a backdrop. All the campsites in town are busy. Utah teachers have been at a large conference in Salt Lake City, therefore the schools have had a couple of days off and the lady that booked us in thinks this has caused the crowds. After a long days travelling we went out for dinner to Susie’s Branding Iron Restaurant which was about half a mile away on the main road. A nice western style restaurant with friendly staff. We both had the Friday special, Prime Rib and it was delicious. A nice fresh salad to start and then the Rib which came with potato a pot of meat juice and a type of fried dough bread that the waitress said spread with butter and honey. It was different to the steaks that are usually supplied in restaurants. This was less dense and therefore not so heavy on the digestion with a thick layer of fat around the edge which I think made it very tasty and melt in the mouth. Maybe a more old fashioned way of producing and cooking a steak.