Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Holiday Road Part 3

Elk near stream
Photo by Jessica

I awoke early on day three...not the 4am of the day before, but around 6am as the sun started to come up. I was very happy to feel the sun's rays start to warm me and the surrounding area as the previous night had been miserably cold in the tent. We pack our gear and I am amazed at how clean Rocky Mountain National Park is. Of course when you check in, they read you the riot act about picking up after yourself and leaving no trace behind when you leave. I always try to do this when I camp and have heard this from other campsites, but this is one of the few times that I have actually seen it followed so closely. No one was leaving garbage or even the smallest human trace behind, it was nice to see people taking pride in the park. It was nice to be able to hike in a clean nature environment without seeing small pieces of paper, bottle caps, and plastic littering the area. We did find a pair of used panties by the mountain stream (I think someone got lucky) but that was the only human trace to be found outside of the campsites themselves.*

Mountain Stream
Photo by Jessica
After packing, we went hiking...mostly to the same places that I went the previous day due to limited time, but slightly different paths which changed the experience quite a bit. One thing that I really wanted to do was wade in the mountain stream. I dipped my hand in it the evening before but with the sun setting, I didn't think it would be wise to wade in as the current was swift and drop-offs on the stream floor could be sudden and deep. In the morning, I tossed off my shoes and waded right in. It was cold, really cold but was still fun. Where I was wading there was a super soft sand creek bed with a few boulders strewn here and there. I only waded in to depths just over my knees, but I wished that I had been wearing my swim suit or that a change of clothes was more easily accessible (everything was already packed in the family truckster) because I wanted to dunk myself in the freezing water and maybe float a short way with the current. I was tempted anyways, but am glad I didn't as I forgot that Shelia was in my pocket. Eventually it was time to hike on and pack up and leave. I wish I would have taken a drink of the mountain stream, just to see what it was like.

After hiking back to the campsite it was time to checkout. I would have loved to stay for a while longer, head up to Bear Lake, or drive Trail Ridge Road, but I knew we had nearly 8 hours of driving ahead and with the way my fellow travelers take breaks (nothing shorter than 40 minutes, even if it is a quick "bathroom stop"), I knew we had to get going. We stopped to get gas right outside the park and realized that we forgot to throw a couple small bags of garbage away before we left. As we were filling up, we tried throwing our garbage in the garbage cans at the Conoco gas station. The attendant stopped us and told us that we had to throw the garbage away in a dumpster on the other side of the (quite large) parking lot behind two other businesses. It would have been one thing if he was congenial about it and asked us if we wouldn't mind tossing our garbage there instead, but no the cranky old attendant was accusatory and basically called us idiots for not disposing of our garbage in the park. I guess since we just bought $70+ dollars in gas that it entitled us to either the use of the facilities or at least a little courtesy. I'm sure it doesn't affect you, gas station attendant, but you left a bad enough taste in our mouths that we decided not to eat at the restaurant or shop at the market contained in your little National Park Village area. I'm sure they would not be happy that your gruff attitude cost them business. As always, thanks for being a doucher.

Colorado River near Hanging Lake Trailhead
Photo by Jessica
Finally back on the road, we head south to I-70 and towards Utah. We tried to stop at Hanging Lake but it was closed for construction. I am more disappointed now than I was then as I think it would have been well worth the time and the climb to see. Instead, we ended up playing in the Colorado River by the rest stop for a while. Personally, I didn't think it was a big deal as I had already played in the source waters earlier this morning, but since we stopped it again took us almost an hour to get back on the road. On our journey, we even drove past Country Jam outside of Grand Junction. We weren't sure what was going on, but could tell it was some kind of big music festival...I was tempted to stop and check it out a little bit, but was really trying to limit our number of stops for any I would have been disappointed that it was country and not some awesome rock show like Coachella. Every time we would stop, I would groan at how far back our estimated time of arrival had become. Our ETA started the day at 6:15pm but would be 10:30pm by the time all stops were accounted for.

I guess when the sign advertises
"Fax Machine," that you shouldn't
expect state of the art technology.
The rest of the day's driving was relatively uneventful, it was fun winding through the mountains and then a nice change of pace on the flat, straight, and empty roads of Utah in the evening. Actually, I really liked speeding along US-191 S under the full moon...really peaceful. I thought it would have been nice to at least drive through Arches National Park, but it was getting too dark by the time we hit Moab. Finally, we arrived at Monticello - our random stopping point when we planned the trip. We stayed at Cayonlands Motor Inn. For what we used it for - a place to crash for the night - it wasn't a bad place. But if you were expecting much more, you would have been disappointed. I guess to me the term "motor inn" reminds me of the 1950's and just seems outdated. So did this place. Corners just seemed to be cut - no handles on the sink or shower matched (i.e. - the hot and cold knobs were completely different), the lid for the toilet tank was not correct (the tank was square but the lid was trapezoidal), everything except one light and the TV were unplugged (sure the room had a mini-fridge and a microwave, but you had to reach around and plug them in to use them and wait for the fridge to get cold), forget about a hot shower (I took a luke-warm shower and then everything else was ice-cold), and although they had "free wi-fi," once in the room there was not a strong enough signal to get reliable service (or any service really). One thing that threw us was that Orbitz had listed this as a "Pets OK" hotel but when we checked in there was a sign that said "No Pets, No Exceptions." Since we were travelling with a cat, we just decided to sneak it in. Sorry, motor inn. Once inside the room, there was a small sign that said that if you got caught with a pet that there would be an additional $10 cleaning fee. $10? Most hotels that allow pets automatically tack on $25 or more...I felt comfortable taking the risk (especially after the cold shower). I think we paid $50 for our stay, since we included the cat ourselves, I didn't feel ripped off but might have been a little disappointed otherwise.

The Truckster's cracked and bug splattered windshield...
oh and mountains, valleys, and rivers. Nice drivetime scenery.

All in all, day three was pretty boring as it was mostly driving and I was not tired enough to be hallucinating...but even only being driving, at least it was driving through some amazing landscape.

Day 3: ~460 miles driven, ~10 hours drive time (stops included)

Too be continued...

*Normally, I would have picked up any garbage that I found in a place like this and disposed of it properly...but I really didn't want to hike around for the next couple hours with someone else's used undies.

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