Anthony's Wild West 2007 travel blog

On the 'Top of the Rockies' Scenic Byway

Old mine workings at 10,000 feet in the Rockies

Garden of the Gods

See the little people!

The Inner Garden

The Balancing Rock

The weather is definitely getting colder the further North and the higher in altitude I go. I took the scenic route today - which I am still not sure was a good idea. I drove for 6 hours to get here, and felt really worn out driving, though that may have been partly the lack of oxygen. Much of the route was above the snowline, over 10,000 feet at times. Some great scenery though, I am definitely in the Rocky Mountains now. I went through lots of ski areas that haven't quite started their season yet (e.g. Aspen).

On the way I realised that the ubiquitous American 4WD large flatbed pick-up isn't just excess and redneckery, but these vehicles often fulfil the role that our white vans do. There are no white vans here, local white-van-man drives a large flat-bed pick-up, has a short beard and a baseball cap - even indoors - and speaks like a cowboy. Did I say I saw a Hummer with the license plate EMITER? I thought it was funny. Anyway, also on the way I saw this great gun shop I wanted to take a picture of. It was a wooden shack in a small hick hamlet with GUNS (luckily spelt right) written in letters the height of the shack on each side and a huge American flag on top. However, I was worried about offending the hillbillies sat outside chewing tobacco, especially as it was a gunshop after all, so I didn't.

I could have gone straight to the Rocky Mountain National Park today, but decided instead to detour to visit the Valley of the Gods on the west side of Colorado Springs, an hour south of Denver. This is a small city park, only a couple of miles long if that, but it has some great scenery for a city park, indeed any park. Its a heck of a lot smaller than most places I've been, even the few hours I had left in the day by the time I got there pretty much covered it. It was great though, and lifted my spirits from the driving and home concerns. Afterwards, I considered forging onwards, but instead got a nearby motel and resigned myself to driving across Denver in its rush hour tomorrow morning on my way to the Rocky Mountains National Park.

I have some anxieties about the weather. It is already snowing in Yellowstone and due to for as long as the forecast lasts, and is due to start snowing here by the weekend, though I may be gone further north by then. By Colorado law all cars have to have chains, and needless to say as my car come from the middle of the desert it doesn't. I guess I will have to play it by ear. It is difficult though, as all the best stuff is at high altitude and therefore likely to be covered in ice and snow, etc. This pretty much rules out camping too. Shame about that. I also found out it is about 600 miles from Rocky Mountains NP to Yellowstone NP, so a lot more driving to come! And over a 1,000 miles back to Vegas. I am confident it will be worth it if the weather doesn't shaft my plans.

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