October 2001

Return to Denver

22/10/2001 The lenticulars evaporated after dawn, so I headed for Denver, picking up I-80 at Fernley. I crossed the Great Salt Lake in mid-afternoon, climbing the escarpment behind Salt Lake City and stopping at Evanston for the night in the Prairie Inn motel and getting a good meal in the Old Mill restaurant. Winter was approaching – the weather channel predicted wind and snow flurries there the next day.

23/10/2001 Next morning was cold, but still and clear, so it was on across I-80 to Green River with the wind building all the way. From there I took 44 down the west side of Flaming Gorge to Manila, Utah. Here the colours became bright and autumnal on a brisk, bright day. The next stage, down 191 to Vernal was spectacular with huge canyons cut into salmon coloured Devonian rocks as I followed the Green River down before climbing into and over the heavily forested Uintas before the final steep descent to Vernal.

Flaming Gorge, WY

I was going to the National Dinosaur Monument, which is a few miles west of Vernal. Well worth it for the drive, the spectacular slab of fossil-crammed rock in the well-displayed dinosaur quarry, and the excellent reconstructions of the Jurassic scene that used to exist when the fossils were laid down.

Dinosaur quarry

I finished the day by driving back over the Uintas to the dam at the foot of Flaming Gorge and so on up the west side of the gorge to Rock Springs, where I stopped for the night. The drive was into the teeth of extremely strong wind and blowing dust eroding out of the gorge. Suddenly I could understand the power of wind erosion when I met an empty drink can bounding UP a steep slope that I was driving down; strong wind! Rock Springs is a dump with the worst motel and restaurants I found on the whole trip.

24/10/2001 The final day of the drive took me across the Continental Divide Basin. This meant that I had to cross two Continental Divides. The day remained very windy (I measured 30 mph) and about freezing temperature as I drove past the north end of the Medicine Bow Mountains, which were being snowed on, and down to Laramie.

Medecine Bow Mountains

From here the road ran over the Shermans following the original pioneer trail past the same pine tree growing from a split rock that fascinated the pioneers and then followed the railroad down to Cheyenne. Here I turned south on I-25 and followed it down to Denver, diverting only to visit Owl Canyon glider port. This place, the home of the Colorado Gliding Association, is anything but a canyon. Situated on the plains north of Wellington and only 3-4 miles west of the I-25 is a low plateau with not a hill in site apart from the Rockies, which are 20 miles or so to the west. The Rockies had a fresh coat of snow too.

Rockies with fresh snow

25/10/2001 Spent the morning and early afternoon visiting with Bill Gieskieng.

26/10/2001 Dumped the car off and went to the Denver Natural History museum to see their excellent paleolithic diorama reconstructions and to take in an IMAX film about Shackleton's famous open boat voyage. In the evening we went to The Fort restaurant. This is built to copy an adobe trading fort from the opening of the West. We enjoyed buffalo tongue starters, followed by a mixed grill of elk, buffalo and quail. A good evening.

27/10/2001 Spent the day chatting with Ken before getting the evening flight back to Gatwick.

Ken and Denise

28/10/2001 The plane arrived early which, together with the clocks going back, confused the heck out of Ace taxis. I eventually got home at 13:00 to find all well apart from some car starting problems.