Sunday, July 31, 2011

Days 37-41
23-27 July 2011
Howard, CO, and home

It always happens at the end of a trip! We head for home and get there and I don't take time to wrap up the narrative which leaves a loose end hanging. I'm going to try to correct that this time (although we've already been home for several days and I'm just now taking the time to write).

We are home in Beloit for a few days. We'll be back on the road in a week doing some exploring of Northern WI and visiting some good friends. We're looking forward to being back on the road.

But let's catch up with where we were and what we were doing. Saturday, 23 July, we drove over to Canon City (Blogger doesn't seem to have the Spanish en-ye character or at least I can't find it so hear Canyon when I write Canon in this sentence) to ride the Royal Gorge Route Railroad. This three hour train excursion leaves Canon City on tracks of the former Denver and Rio Grande Railway and travels twelve miles through the Royal Gorge of the Arkansas River and then back the twelve miles to Canon City. It is an AWESOME ride. The Gorge itself is spectacular and for an old rail buff  (be REAL careful with the "old"; I just mean a long-time rail buff) like myself it was a real treat to ride the trail and see the story unfold along the tracks.

I'm only going to post a few pictures with this part of the story. My next goal is to post a series of pictures from the places with visited. But here's the Royal Gorge ride:

A view from the train of The Royal Gorge Route

Rafters on the Arkansas River IN the Royal Gorge

The Royal Gorge Bridge, 1053 feet above the floor of the Gorge

The Royal Gorge Bridge again

The train and the river on the return route

Sunday the 24th was kind of a wind-down, catch-up day. We went to church at the First United Methodist Church of Salida, CO. The pastor there is the Rev. Margaret Gillikin who, as a student pastor when she was at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, IL, served a WI Conference church (I think she said at Brandon, WI). She gave a splendid message, one of the best I've heard in a long time, and it was a delight to meet her. After church we checked in at the Arkansas River to watch the kayakers and waterboarders ride the waves of the rapids. It was fun watching them. Although I enjoy my kayak (and we're going to try to take them with us on the next trip), what there were doing was far beyond my abilities or interests at this time in life. Performance stunt kayaking is for the young not the gently aging! We watched forward flips, reverse flips, rolls, turns, and wave riding and were simply amazed at their abilities. Here's a link to the Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area, a Colorado State Park. We enjoyed watching them. Can you tell?

Monday saw us leaving Banderas Bunkhouse and heading out on the road again. We had to come down from the Colorado mountains (we were in the Sangre de Cristo range which we had also been in when we were in Santa Fe, NM) and head east. There was a good bit of construction on part of the route, but it wasn't a major difficulty. It just slowed us down. The new coach is not a speed-demon in the mountains (read: we climb up pretty slow, like a loaded semi) but it does manage the downhill grades pretty well with the engine brake helping control down-shifting of the transmission and keeping the driver's foot off the brakes. So we came out of the mountains and through the Front Range of Colorado, drove through a part of Kansas, and arrived the Johnson Lake State Recreation Area outside Lexington, Nebraska, fairly late in the evening, having traveled well over 450 miles (which is a LONG day for an RVer). Johnson Lake won't be our favorite stop of the trip (the facilities are a bit sparse), but it was an excellent spot to stop for the night, enjoy a nice evening and a pretty lake, and get on the road the next morning.

On Tuesday, we drove across Nebraska and into Iowa, in fact, most of the way across Iowa, stopping for the night at the Kellogg RV Park in Kellogg, IA, which also happens to be the home of the "Iowa's Best Burger Cafe." Of course, we had to sample the burger to see if it really was. Now I don't know if it is really the BEST burger in Iowa, but I can tell you that they make a mighty good burger! Now this is a stopping place that we want to remember. It is a decent day's drive from home in Beloit and has good facilities for the traveler and the owners are very nice to deal with. They've got it all, pull-through sites, full-hookups (IF you want them; we just went for W/E [that is, a water and electric hookup site]), a cafe with good food and ice cream, and a gas station. They even had TREES! Many of the western campgrounds are sorely lacking in good shade trees so we enjoyed being back in the shade.

Wednesday, 27 July and Day 41 of our trip, saw us getting home to Beloit. The new coach FILLS the driveway! I probably could have fit a 36 or maybe a 37 footer into the drive, but if we'd bought a 40 foot coach it would have stuck out into the street. Thirty-four feet was a pretty full driveway! Of course, the coach doesn't live at home. After unloading, we drove it (the next day) to it's full-time parking place in a storage lot.

It was quite a trip! We had a lot of fun, only a few frustrations (mostly due to dealing with McClain's RV over the purchase of the coach, but don't get me started on them!). It's nice to be home, but we're both looking forward to heading out again in a week after we take care of some business and family matters. I see you on down the road. Thanks for following our adventures and travels.

--Forrest and Mary