April 11th, 12th, 13th, 2014
In my last blog, everything was Rosie and it still is, but we’ve been working on it. After leaving the Moab area, we headed for Colorado, on our way east. The ride was nonchalant, still stopping here and there, visiting everything that caught our fancy. We even took a side trip to Colorado National Monument, for a spectacular canyon rim drive. This 30 mile detour was awesome!
Back on I-70 East, we headed into the highlands of the Rocky Mountains. At this point, we were thinking that another side trip to Rocky Mountain National Park could be possible. Even with the main road closed until the end of May (winter conditions), we would be able to drive to Este Park and get a feel for the rest of the NP. As we were driving and climbing, the radio stations kept telling of an approaching storm, that would bring snow even down to Denver on the easterly side of the Rockies. Well, as we were still climbing in elevation, we could see that the winter was definitely not done here in this part of the country. The snow banks along the side of the highway were still 10 to 15 feet high.
In Vail, Colorado, all of the ski resorts were going strong! We finally crested “Loveland Pass” at 11,990 feet! What a ride going up! From here, they say, “it’s all down hill” well that’s true, but before that you have to enter into Eisenhower Tunnel for an incredibly long ride through a big mountain.
By now, we were positive that Rocky Mountain NP was out of the question. Denver was our target to get most of the snow behind us. We plugged in a Wall Mart for a parking spot for the night. Denver is spread out over 75 miles of urban area. The Wall Mart was on the easterly side of the city, an advantage for leaving the next day. The night was full of city noises, but I talked to a roving security patrol and the lady said, “It’s usually pretty safe”. She would be patrolling until 2am. Ok, everything was secure, but the trains, buses, fire department, police department helicopter and people going and coming from work were the usual noises that were absent from Fisher Towers.
Next morning, it was still fairly mild and my odometer said it was time for an oil change. I had inquired at the Wall Mart Auto department and they couldn’t fit my truck inside their service area. Hence, it was my queue to change oil myself, in the parking lot. I had the tools, I just bought the oil, filter and a $7.00 drip pan. I had been thinking of the whole operation and had everything ready. I dumped the oil, replaced the filter, filled with new synthetic oil, checked for leaks and I was done. Not a drop on the ground either. Of course, you have to remember my truck sits high off the ground and access to the bottom of the engine is easy. I loaded the used oil containers and filter back into the carriage and wheeled everything over to the auto service department. I just had to sign that I was dropping off used oil and that was it. Oh, I left the new drip pan off. So, besides the cost of oil, it cost me $7.00 for this 18 minute DIY service.
With possible snow coming later in the day, it was time to move east on I-70. I was hoping to go down in elevation. Denver, remember is somewhere in the 5,000 foot area. We drove hard all day and finally arrived in Hays, Kansas. We had put on some 350 or so miles. The temperature in Hays was close to 90 degrees. We picked Hays because it had a Catholic Church and we were there for the 5pm Palm Sunday vigil mass. Well, not exactly on time. When we had stopped at the first Kansas Visitor Center, they didn’t tell us that in just a few miles inside their state, that the time would go back to Central Time. The mass was started, but at least we tried.
We found a small campground on the outskirts of town. It had all the hookups including cable TV. It was a very quiet night!
This morning was a shocker! The temperature was down to 47 degrees. We were watching the TV weather and they were talking of severe weather with high winds, hail, thunderstorms and possible tornados.
Our plans from here were to take another side trip (60 miles) down to Newton, KS and visit some old friends we met on a “Heart of Europe” tour several years ago. We had to travel on I-70 for about a hundred miles before taking the turn south on I-135 to Newton. The first 50 miles were moderately windy, but than it got worse. When we reached Salina, it was time to park it for the night. We were sheltered from the bulk of the strong winds. The Wall Mart makes a good blind. We weren’t the only ones who parked mid afternoon for the night.
That is what we saw and did!
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