Friday, August 26, 2005
Road Trip: Days Three, Four, Five and Six
When we left off, we had landed in Laramie, Wyoming at midnight.
By 8am the next day (which would have been Thursday the 11th), we were up and went out to breakfast before heading east to Cheyenne.
Cheyenne is a kind of small town that is mostly dedicated to old-time west stuff. Dad and I went to the Old West and Rodeo museum. (The above carriage made horsey noises when you picked up the reins.) They also had the country's first public library, a two-shelf carriage thing pulled by a horse.
The whole town had these variously-designed giant cowboy boots all over the place. Kind of like Seattle has (had?) those pigs around town.
After this exciting stop on our tour, we left and turned south on I-25 to Denver. It only took a few hours (oh, how I love the 75mph speed limit in Montana, Wyoming, Denver and Nebraska!), and before 1pm I had taken Dad to the airport to fly back to Seattle.
Then I was on my own, for the day and for good (on the road trip, and the summer). Ashley (the friend I was visiting in Denver) was at work all afternoon, so she suggested the 16th Street Mall. I spent some time at a local bookstore and strolling around the outdoor mall.
Friday I had the day to kill. First I made sure to sleep in, cause I was freaking exhausted. Around noon, I drove south to Colorado Springs. Ashley had highly recommended The Garden of the Gods.
It's full of these red rocks that have been pushed vertical over the last 30 million years or so. It's quite impressive. I took a "nature walk" and also walked a bit of one the trails. But then I was tired and hungry so I went back to the visitor center. I ate nachos (kind of a tradition of mine in high-altitude visitor centers...I am lame, don't ask) and wrote postcards.
This vertical rock was once a streambed. The big hole used to be a big rock, and the sediment flowed around it. And now that ancient streambed is vertical. Wow.
Saturday, Ashley and I drove up to Rocky Mountain National Park. Sadly, the weather was not ideal for viewing of mountain vistas, but it was still wonderful to be in the Rockies.
And the views still proved to be interesting.
Left: Two elk near the road.
The area behind me is supposed to be a scenic view of mountains and valleys. But as you can see, it's all fog.
It was pretty odd but beautiful in its own way.
We drove up the highest paved road in the country, to Trail Ridge. It felt like the top of the world.
Up at the top of the trail on that ridge, there are a bunch of rocks you can climb up. On the top of those rocks, there is this plaque, which points to mountains and locations (and the distances) around the country. This close-up reads Crater Lake 870, Mt. Rainier 925, Yellowstone 380.
On Sunday, I left Denver and drove through almost the entire state of Nebraska, to Lincoln. It wasn't as flat and boring as I'd thought. The land undulated with corn and soybeans, which was quite nice to look at. Not terribly exciting either, but pleasant for sure.
On the way, I stopped to stretch at Gothenburg, the original Pony Express station. That existed for less than a year, between 1860-61. They were put out of business by the completion of transcontinental telegraph communication. I didn't really know that it was so recent. I mean, that's less than a hundred and fifty years ago! Not long at all. I read a little fact card about Nebraska while there, and learned that 93% of Nebraska is farmland or ranchland. Hurrah for agriculture in the Midwest!
Later, I stopped ever so briefly at the Archway Monument, something about the experience of the Pioneers and the West. I had no time to go in to the exhibit, but I did see this plaque and found it was pretty thought-provoking.
I arrived at Seth's place in Lincoln about 8.30 that night. We ate some Greek food and caught up on the last three years. (geez Seth. Way to keep in touch with your friends! :)
Monday afternoon, I explored downtown, which was clean and friendly. First I spent some time in an excellent place called A Novel Idea Used Bookstore. I highly recommend it to anyone passing through. I bought eleven kids' books for next year, and spent less than $35. Sweet!
My next stop was the Capitol Building. I took a tour and learned that Nebraska has the only unicameral legislature in the country--that means they don't have a Senate and House, just one legislative body whom they call Senators. And the building was built from 1922-1932, for less than the budgeted $10 million. The tower extends fourteen stories, and Seth informed me that a state law prohibits any Lincoln building to be taller. Hm.
After the Capitol, I strolled up to the Historic Haymarket District, found some Nebraska souvenirs, and then a cute coffee shop. I sat at a table in the outdoor courtyard, sipping a strawberry italian soda in the shade, writing postcards to friends back home.
Quite an enjoyable afternoon, altogether.
So ends the next four days of the thirteen day road trip. I shall continue more at another time.