Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Day 4 - Denver to Salt Lake City

We left Denver around 7:30, blue sky above us, temperature on the cold side and we knew it was going to get colder as we start to climb up the Rockies. Denver is located in the South Platte River Valley on the High Plains, between the Rocky Mountains to the west and the High Plains to the east. Denver is nicknamed the "Mile-High City" because its elevation is one mile, or 5,280 feet (1,609 m) above sea level. The mountain range offers a breathtaking background to the city.
The construction of I-70 in Colorado and Utah is considered an engineering marvel as the route passes through the Eisenhower Tunnel. The Eisenhower Tunnel is the highest point along the Interstate Highway system with an elevation of 11,158 ft (3,401 m). As we climbed we could feel the temperature drop, the top of the mountains still covered with specs of snow in some areas but we were prepared, we had put on our jacket liners just for good measure. We go through the Eisenhower Tunnel and the scenery changes, mountains covered by Pine trees, snow still covering the hidden parts of the mountains.
We take the Route 9 North exit and make a quick stop in Silverthorne for a warm cup of coffee and call the family at home. The town sits in the middle of the Rockies, we admire some of the expensive homes on the side of the mountain.

Beautiful homes on the mountain
We leave Silvethrone and follow Route 9 north through the Arapaho National Forest towards Kremmling where we enter Route 40 which will takes us through the Routt National Forest towards Steamboat Springs. We pass lakes and mountains ranges, winding roads and long stretches of open road arriving in Steamboat Springs just in time for lunch.
The night before my brand new, two week old Gateway laptop had stopped working, maybe didn't like the vibration on the back of the bike, but I was not going to continue to carry a brick for the rest of the trip so a quick stop at a UPS store and the laptop, power supply and a jacket I had brought but didn't need were packed and being shipped back home to NJ.
We then made a stop at Freshies for lunch where the food was very tasteful and the waitresses very friendly. I obviously had to try the "Colorado" sandwich, a turkey, avocado, sprouts, swiss, tomatoes and sweet mustard on toasted organic wheat bread with sweet potato fries. While having lunch my brother made an observation how hot it was, in the 90's and not a single drop of condensation on the side of the ice water glasses or soft drinks we had. There's almost no humidity high up in the Rockies, you can feel the heat but you do not perspire at all, it's amazing how dry it is high up.

Sweet Potato Fries
We leave town passing the Rabbit Ears Motel and continue on Route 40 West immediately encountering a completely different terrain, a more desolate and hot flat terrain with long stretches of road and very light traffic. We make good time stopping only to admire the land and take pictures occasionally. I kept looking at the side of the road for wildlife and finally I was rewarded by a dear grazing on the side of the highway. I immediately stopped on the side of the road to take pictures.

Empty roads
Long stretches of open roads
Wildlife in Colorado
Later in the afternoon we take a detour into the Dinosaur National Monument visitor center and then proceed a few miles into the park. The road winds along the side of the mountain as it climbs and we stopped to take pictures in a few areas. At the top you get a beautiful view of the plains below and the road we had just come up from. Deeper into the park there's a beautiful Canyon but we decided to turn around, we still had a long way to Salt Lake City and the Canyon was quite a few miles into the park.

We comeback to the visitor center and then make a right into Route 40 again and quickly dispatch of a few miles until we arrive at Dinosaur. The Town of Dinosaur is located in Moffat County, Colorado. The town population was 319 at the U.S. Census 2000. It is the westernmost town in the State of Colorado, located 3 miles east of the Utah border. The town of Dinosaur was originally named Artesia; the current name was adopted in 1966, to capitalize on the town's proximity to Dinosaur National Monument. We stopped for cold water and I had a sudden urge for a cold ice cream.

We leave Dinosaur and within three miles arrive at the Utah border. We stop to take pictures and then continue into even more desolate country, the red rocks contrasting with a beautiful blue sky, passing sleepy towns along the way. Later we stop at the Starvation Lake State Park for more pictures and to bask in the quickly fading sun. It was so quite you could almost hear your heart beat. Not a single boat on the beautiful blue lake.

We continue determined to get to Salt Lake City before nightfall entering the Uinta National Forest, passing the beautiful Strawberry Reservoir and again stopping for pictures on occasion and specially when I saw deer on the side of the hills. It was getting darker and the last hour we rode in the dark missing the beautiful Canyons just before Salt Lake City. I guess I will have to come back.

Strawberry Reservoir
Beautiful Strawberry Reservoir
I have a good eye for deer

We get to Salt Lake City and head straight to a motel near the BMW dealer my brother had scheduled in advance for the next day his 6000 mile service. The next morning he would drop the bike for service.
We covered 490 miles in Colorado and Utah along a beautiful and much less traveled road than Route 70 or Route 80. Lonely at times but beautiful scenery and with some interesting places to stop.

1 comment:

  1. I liked visiting Colorado. It was beautiful there, love how granloa they all are. All of the fresh food, the laid back lifestyle...but dude, we went up into the mountains and saw snow caps on 4th of July! No thanks. This beach chik is staying along the coast!