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Author: John N.
Date of Trip: September 2006

Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2006

Long travel day. I did not opt for long term parking at Laguardia airport, so I took Metro-North railroad to Grand Central Terminal then New York Bus Service to the airport. Smooth flight to Memphis, where I had to make a connection, but the gate was changed for the connection, so I had to walk very fast to get there in time. I made the connection, but didn’t have time to eat lunch, so I was a bit hungry, since only a soda was served on the first flight. Arrived in Denver and then drove to Loveland where the hotel was, about 40 miles away. I didn’t get to the hotel until 6 pm, Denver time, and was rather tired, so I had dinner and retired for the night.

Thursday, Sept. 7, 2006

Off to Rocky Mountain National Park, near Estes Park, about 45 minutes from my hotel. Oh, how beautiful! It made me think of the hymn, America, the beautiful. It drizzled for just a little bit and then the skies turned clear and what absolutely magnificent views! Spent about 6 hours there, driving the Trail Ridge Loop Road. I stopped at the Alpine Visitor Center and did this stairway hike which led me to a point 12,000 feet above sea level. Had to stop every so often to catch my breath. It was fun and it will be a terrific memory. A Japanese tour bus followed me and they were a fun, lively bunch! While driving back to the hotel, I noticed there are drive-thrus at liquor stores, as if it was a McDonald’s! Can you imagine that in New York? What a recipe for drunk driving!

Friday, Sept. 8, 2006

Had no plans for this day, since I thought Rocky Mountain Park would be a 2 day adventure, but it wasn’t, so I went to the town of Golden, for a tour of the Coors brewery. What a nice little town! Not that far from downtown Denver and less than an hour from my hotel. It’s also the home of the Colorado school of mining. Very interesting tour. Once inside the brewery, there is an overwhelming smell of barley, which reminded me of the cereal, fiber 1. It was fun, glad I went, and could not refuse the free samples, even though I prefer Budweiser. Then off to downtown Denver, for a tour of the Denver Mint. I made sure I went there, since I didn’t go on a tour of the Mint while at San Francisco. Different and interesting and the tour guide was very articulate and knew his stuff. It only lasted about 35 minutes though. All of the visitors received a nice, shiny uncirculated quarter. They were very security conscious though, with 2 police officers accompanying the group.

Saturday, Sept. 9, 2006

Last day at the hotel in Loveland. Will stay the night at Gunnison, about 250 miles away. Stopped at the Air Force academy near Colorado Springs, about an hour south of Denver. Beautiful mountain view background and rather nice campus. The architectural design of their chapel is quite a sight. Then off to the Royal Canon Gorge. Did the incline railway, the Tram and, of course, had to walk across the bridge, the longest suspension bridge in the world. Nice weather and great, great views. Stayed about 2 hours which was long enough. Off to Gunnison, about 2 hours away. The claim to fame for this town, is unfortunately, is it’s not far from Columbine. I was so surprised how the whole town shuts down at 8 pm and becomes totally deserted.

Sunday, Sept. 10, 2006

Off to Black Canyon of Gunnison National Park. Repeating myself, but again, beautiful, beautiful views! I lucked out with mild, clear superb weather. In fact, this time of year is a great time to visit the national parks, since school is back in session, thereby less crowded, and it’s much milder without the heat of the summer. It’s the smallest national park I’ve ever been too, so a drive of the loop road was at most 2 hours, but most certainly worth stopping to see. After, on towards Durango and then Mesa Verde National Park. I literally took the scenic route. This will be a drive I will never forget as long as I live. For a good part of the drive, it was winding, mountainous roads with sharp curves. At some points, it was a 1 lane highway in each direction without guard rails, which scared the heck out of me! It was very, very scenic, but was I glad to get back on a normal highway. BTW, I couldn’t help but notice how many bikers are in Colorado. I finally got to Mesa Verde at about 6:30 pm. Made some stops along the loop road while enroute to my hotel, the Far View Lodge, the only hotel inside the park and about 15 miles from the entrance to the park. The scenery was again, very, very beautiful! I called it an early night and was surprised to find there are no TV’s in the room, which is done on purpose so guests can enjoy the views.

Monday, Sept. 11, 2006

Spent the entire day exploring the park. Did the Cliff Palace Tour as well as the self guided tour of the Spruce Tree House and drove the Mesa Top loop road as well as the Cliff Palace loop road. Absolutely amazing structures that the Puebloans lived in. It’s an archaeologist’s dream! An incredible story of what people did to survive. There’s nothing like seeing these structures up close. At one point, we were allowed to descent into a kiva and it was rather eerie feeling especially with a homemade tarp. I had dinner at the Metate room, the nicest restaurant inside the park. It’s a must if anyone thinks of going there! Excellent food and service!

Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2006

Today was a driving day. Had to drive almost 400 miles to get back to Denver. Did not take the mountainous route, thankfully. Simple highway driving, but long though. I checked in at a Motel 6, about 15 miles from the Denver airport. Nothing fancy, basic room, and glad it had a TV, LOL! In the middle of the night, this very loud, noisy railroad woke me up, and I couldn’t help but think of the movie My Cousin Vinny, with the railroad waking them up. It made me laugh, but I was glad to check out in the morning.

Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2006

Back home today. I volunteered to take a later flight back to Laguardia, which would have meant me arriving 46 minutes later and stopping at Detroit, but the plan backfired, and I arrived about 4 hours later. I mostly volunteered to help this older gentleman, who missed his flight to Memphis by 1 minute, so otherwise, he would have had to wait 6 hours for the next flight. Oh well, I got a $200 voucher for my troubles.

I’m very glad I made the trip. Colorado is a beautiful state and I will have wonderful memories of the scenery!

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