Mt. Rainier and Lenticular Clouds - Dec. 2008 copyright: JMM

January 24, 2008

The Old Barn and on to Colorado

On the way to Gorham from Russell, we passed this old barn along the side of the road. I wish I'd had black & white film at the time, but I did the best I could with the colour film.

The next day, we got up pretty early so that we could hit the road and get to Denver. This is the sunrise behind our hotel in Kansas.

Oddly, I found Eastern Colorado to be much flatter than Kansas.

Denver is known as the Mile High City. Brian was under the impression that we would be able to see "the lights of Denver" from the Kansas prairie. The night before we left, we took another drive out into the pitch dark night. We got eaten alive by mosquitos, but alas, we didn't see "the lights of Denver" way in the distance. Nevermind the fact that we were about 450 miles away and the earth is round.....

But anyways, what we didn't realize is that, yes, the elevation of Denver is 1 mile above sea level, but it's such a gradual incline that you don't really notice it. It's not like Denver is located one mile in the sky above the plains. The Rockies were still quite far to the west of the city and because the weather was so crappy, we couldn't even see the mountains once we got to Denver.
We stayed in Colorado for a couple of days. Laundry needed to be done and we were pretty tired. And I was sick. Back when I was much younger and didn't eat the high fibre diet I do now, my, erm, "plumbing" would get a bit stopped up every time I traveled. I was in agony by the time we got to the midwest. So, at a truck stop, I bought some Feenamint, which was supposed to be a "gentle" laxative. Maybe it is....but not when you cram your mouth full of them in the hopes of blasting things loose. And blast loose they did in Denver. It's not often that I'm 100% confined to bed, but that was one of the few times I stayed in bed, unless I was dashing to the can.

Denver is not that impressive of a city, so we did absolutely no sightseeing there, other than driving past Mile High Stadium. The following day I was much better so we bopped on down to Colorado Springs. Of course the weather couldn't cooperate. I was not a happy camper. It was damn hot though, in the high 90's, but completely overcast.

First thing we did was find our way to the Pike's Peak Auto Road and start heading up. I was driving. Remember, we were able to offload the car so of course we didn't take the UHaul up the mountain!!!

Once you get to a certain elevation, they actually have a place where they check your brakes to make sure they aren't burning up. At that point, the road becomes gravel all the way to the summit. I am not sure if it was a blessing or a curse that the clouds were so low on the mountain. On the one hand, I was really pissed off that we had no view from the summit whatsoever. On the other hand, had it been a clear day, and since the road has no guardrails, I might have completely freaked out if there had been a view. As it was, I couldn't see 5' in front of the car and I was terrified I was going to miss a curve and drive off the edge.

So we FINALLY get to the summit after a long, arduous drive, and get out of the car. Imagine our shock to find it 36 degrees and sleeting, when it was extremely hot down below. Luckily I had clothes in the trunk of the car and I was able to change out of my shorts.

Note to Julie: Does it count as bagging a 14'er if you drive to the summit instead of climb?

Of course we brought Mooey with us for a Kodak Moment.

My poor car was just trashed from the trip up, and vapor locked on the summit. We were stuck up there nearly 2 hours. I was extremely uncomfortable in that altitude. I thought I was either going to be crushed alive or pass out. The only place we could keep warm was the gift shop, so we hung around in there for a long time, and attempted to eat some lunch. We finally walked over to the ranger's building and asked for help but all they could do was suggest we pour water on the engine and hope that the car came back to life. Luckily it did and we headed back down to see more of Colorado Springs.

See the train trestle?

Then we went to this place called Garden of the Gods, which had all these cool red rock formations. Colorado has a lot of red stone. There's an amphitheatre in Morrison, near Boulder, called "Red Rocks" too.

There's Mooey in a little cave.

After we were done in Colorado Springs, we decided to drive to Cripple Creek, since it's one of our fave songs by The Band. It's not the same Cripple Creek in the song, of course, as that song takes place in Louisiana, but still, we liked the name so we decided to drive down there. It was "only 30 miles". We figured it'd take 30 minutes. Wrong. We forgot that we were still in the mountains, so that 30 miles took us about 90 minutes, one way. By the time we got to town at around 5:00 pm, everything was closing for the evening.
I call this picture "A drunkard's dream if I ever did see one", which is a line from the song.

Downtown Cripple Creek, your quintessential Rocky Mountain mining town. Too bad all the shops were closed. Because it is, after all, all about the shopping.
Next: Wyoming, or, Crossing the Continental Divide with Not a Mountain In Sight


  1. NO WAY you get me up there - I can't even drive uphill, forget up-mountain.

    Beautiful pictures though.

  2. the barn pix are quite lovely...

    never been to pike's peak, but have gone over the divide many times...yep, it's a bit tough to breathe up there.

    i wasn't too thrilled with denver, either. (sorry to all of you denverites out there, but after new york city, what else is there???)

  3. Val - I confess, when I posted the photo of the train trestle, I thought of you saying, "no way would you get me up there".

    Fen - I couldn't find a single thing of interest in Denver at all! Nothing in the AAA book floated our boat.

  4. Anonymous3:00 PM

    Hey. I've crossed the Continental Divide too! I think I was in Utah at the time (joke!)

  5. Well, as someone who used to live in Colorado I feel that I should defend Denver...Sadly, I can't. The two best cities in Colorado are Fort Collins and Boulder (but make NO mistake...I Hate CU) When I'm in Boulder I ignore the university.

    Red Rocks, a very cool place. Who could forget the U2 concert!

  6. Anonymous7:39 AM

    Gosh, I'm just catching up with your travels... the pics are amazing and you've sure been to some wonderful places... Is there anywhere in the States you haven't been jojo?

    we've driven up quite a few mountains and as bad as the low cloud is, I think bright sunshine in your face is harder to deal with

    you know I think those red rocks are probably from copper deposits... not sure

    hope you have a great weekend

    lotsa luv ann xxxxx

  7. Ann - Out of the 50 states, there are 22 that I haven't been to. Yet. Some I have no desire to see (read: Texas, Hawaii and the deep south)

  8. Anonymous5:54 PM

    I went to Denver too and I did not see what so many people are wild about.
    The barn photos are majestic!

  9. Anonymous1:10 PM


    um, much as I love you, JoJo, it doesn't count. um, you have to walk or hike up it for it to count. you guys shoulda parked yer rig at the "bottom" and walked up. It is ok to count even if you start walking up at a height above sea level.

    but all that aside, wonderful pictures as usual from you JoJo.


  11. So...Julie....have you ever benn to the summit of Pikes Peak?......