Road Trip – Estes Park, Colorado and Rocky Mountain National Park to Grand Junction Colorado and Colorado National Monument to Arches National Park to Delta, Utah to Great Basin National Park to Home

If you would like to see all the pictures from our trip they are available on Flickr here.

Day 22 - Sunday, September 14 -   Estes Park, Colorado to Grand Junction Colorado – today 358 miles – total  miles 5177

When we left Estes Park on Saturday morning and headed west into Rocky Mountain National Park the ranger at the gate told us that the road through the park was still closed because of snow. We stopped and made a breakfast picnic of the donuts we had picked up at the Donut Den in Estes Park (yummy!) and then headed up to where the road was supposed to be closed. We were going to turn around and head south around the park but we lucked out. They must have just opened it because we did not have to turn around. The highest point on the road is 12,183 feet, the highest point of the trip.

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Heading west from RMNP we stopped briefly in Georgetown, Colorado. To quote The Colorado Guide "What separates Georgetown from many other historic mining districts is the sheer number of old Victorian Homes still standing." But for me the most fascinating part of the town wasn't even mentioned in the guide book. The Georgetown Energy Museum is  hydroelectric power plant that has been generating power with the same basic equipment since 1893. It was the second AC power plant in Colorado. In addition to seeing the plant we learned its history and how it operates. They had several old appliances that still work. Here you can see our guide turning on the washing machine and below that you can see the generating unit.

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Sunday night we camped in Colorado National Monument. It was a perfect night. The temperature was about 65 degrees and we had a full moon. The camp ground was only about half full and we had a great choice of sites. Ours overlooked Grand Junction. After going into Grand Junction for dinner we sat in the chairs next to our tent and just enjoyed the view and the perfection of our setting. The picture below is the view from our camp site.

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Day 23 – Monday, September 15 -   Grand Junction Colorado to Delta, Utah – today 335 miles – total  miles 5512

We left Grand Junction fairly early and stopped for a hike on the Trail Through Time on the Colorado-Utah border. We were the only ones there. The trail is about 1.5 miles long and you get to see dinosaur fossils still in the rocks. In the picture below you can see some backbones.
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In eastern Utah we stopped at Arches National Park and did a bit more hiking. The pictures below are of Double Arch and Duke sitting under Double Arch. The larger opening of the two arches has a span of 144 feet, the third longest in the park and a height of 112 feet the highest in the park.
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There was quite a bit of traffic so we decided to take a different route out of the park. Most people back track on the paved road back to the main entrance. We decided to take a dirt road that went the other way. The road was very rough. We saw only three other cars. It probably didn't save us any time but it was fun and scenic.
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Monday night we had thought we might make it to Ely, Nevada but instead we stopped in Delta Utah. There are very few towns with motels in western Utah and eastern Nevada.

Day 24 (The last day of the trip) – Tuesday, September 16 -  Delta, Utah to Home in Reno, Nevada – today 501 miles – total  miles 6013

On our last day of the trip we stopped in Great Basin National Park in eastern Nevada took a short hike and toured Lehman Cave.

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I think we will come back to Great Basin in the future and do more hiking. Someday I would like to do the hike to the top of Wheeler Peak the second highest mountain in Nevada. From Great Basin we kept heading west. With only a few food, fuel and road work stops got home to Reno about 8pm. It was a wonderful trip .

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Road Trip – Manchester, Iowa, Correctionville, Iowa, Estes Park, Colorado and Rocky Mountain National Park

Day 18 – Wednesday, September 10 -   Manchester, Iowa – Today  0 miles – total  miles 3850

Day two of our visit to Manchester. We finished mowing today, visited with Duke's Dad and enjoyed the perfect weather. We saw several deer in the trees at the back of their property.

Day 19 – Thursday, September 11 -   Manchester, Iowa to Brian and Joanne's farm near Correctionville, Iowa – Today  376 miles – total  miles 4126

Thursday morning we loaded up the truck with a few pieces of furniture from Duke's folks house, some for us and some for Duke's sister in western Iowa. We drove from Manchester to their farm. On the  way we stopped to see the University of Northern Iowa and Iowa State University, Duke's and my alma mater's respectively. UNI and ISU are two of the most beautiful universities I have ever seen. Of course maybe I am biased.

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We drove by the places we lived and walked through a few of our old haunts. I'm sure the computers have changed but I don't think the computer science building at Iowa State has changed at all in the last 34 years. Even the benches and colors in the ladies room were the same! It is the white building in this picture. It was supposed to look like a punch card. Back then we used punch cards for our programs.

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Day 20 - Friday, September 12 -   Brian and Joanne's farm near Correctionville, Iowa to Estes Park, Colorado - Today  638 miles – total  miles 4764

We had a nice visit last night with Duke's sister and her husband and son. We stayed at their farm between Correctionville and Moville, Iowa. We got an early start and headed southwest out of Iowa and through Nebraska. Most of the way across Nebraska we stayed off the interstate. We even took a couple of dirt roads. It wouldn't be a Marion and Duke road trip without dirt roads.

Our route joined the interstate at North Platte, Nebraska. This summer North Platte opened an eight story viewing tower called the Golden Spike Tower overlooking the Union Pacific's switching yard. The Bailey yard is the largest classification yard in the world . It is 8 miles long and covers 2,850 acres, They handle 15,000 rail cars every 24 hours. They had a retired Union Pacific guy who used to work in the yard on the viewing platform answering questions. It was fascinating to see all the activity and learn something about how the railroads work.

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After North Platte we drove through some really heavy rain and eventually got to Estes Park, Colorado about 8pm. This was by far the most miles we have driven in a day. The furniture in the back of the truck  is wrapped in plastic. It looks like it stayed pretty dry.

Day 21 - Saturday, September 13 -   Estes Park, Colorado - Today 55 miles – total  miles 4819

Today we are staying Estes Park. We stayed here on our vacation 2 years ago and liked it so much that we are staying here again. Today we went into Rocky Mountain National Park and did a hike and then listened to a ranger talk about beavers.  I learned that beavers jaws are made so that they can hold logs in their mouths and that up until 1980 the park used to get rid of beavers because they backed up streams. Now the park administration realizes that beavers are an essential part of the ecosystem and encourages them. The views today were stunning. All the rain we went through yesterday covered the mountains in snow. The road through the park was closed but is supposed to open tomorrow.

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Road Trip – Tofte, Minnesota to Hibbing, Minnesota to Eau Claire, Wisconsin, to Manchester, Iowa

Day 14 Saturday, September 6 – Tofte, Minnesota to Hibbing Minnesota – Today  178 miles – total  miles 3365

I was born in Hibbing, Minnesota. Hibbing is in the heart of the Minnesota iron range and is also where Bob Dylan grew up. Friday we left the shore of Lake Superior and drove to Hibbing. On the way we stopped and saw what turned out to be a highlight of the trip.

We stopped at the Soudan Underground mine and took the tour down into the  old iron mine that U.S. Steel closed in 1963 and gave to the state of Minnesota, First you put on hard hats and go down in the rickety old cage that the miners used. It goes down at a speed of 10 miles per hour and it goes down into the earth half a mile! When we got out of the elevator cage we were on the last level that was actively  mined, the the 27th level below ground, From the vertical shaft we got into a little ore train and rode out three quarters of a mile to the area where they were mining. It was pretty cool to be so deep underground.

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In Hibbing we saw the first house I lived in and visited the Hull Rust Mahoning Mine View where we saw one of the biggest open pit mines in the world. My Dad's first job was as a an engineer for Oliver Iron Mining Company. Dad told me that he used to go down into the Hull Rust mining pit to collect samples when it was 40 degrees below zero.

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Day 15 Sunday, September 7 -  Hibbing Minnesota to Eau Claire, Wisconsin- Today  229 miles – total  miles 3594

From Hibbing we drove to Duluth and into Wisconsin. We spent the night in Eau Claire with my Aunt Dorothy. It was fun to see her and catch up on what is going on in the family. We went out to dinner and did laundry.

On the drive to Eau Claire we stopped in Duluth and toured the S.S. William A. Irvin an iron ore ship . It was very interesting to see the ship that used to be the U.S. Steel flag ship. Now it is owned by the city of Duluth. Coincidentally they are using the hold where they used to put the cargo to set up a haunted house that will be open for Halloween.

Day 16 Monday, September 8 -  Eau  Claire, Wisconsin to Manchester, Iowa – Today  256 miles – total  miles 3850

From Eau Claire we headed south and a little west to Manchester, Iowa. where Duke grew up. On the way we stopped at  Effigy Mounds National Monument and saw some of the Indian burial mounds that are shaped like animals.

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Day 17 Tuesday, September 9 – Manchester, Iowa – Today  0 miles – total  miles 3850

It was nice to stay in one place today. We visited with Duke's brother and his wife and with Duke's Dad. We also went out to the house where Duke grew up and mowed some of the yard and pastures. Duke cut down a tree in the fornt yard and hauled it out to the far corner of the property.

Road Trip – Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada to Tofte, Minnesota, USA

Day 13 Friday, September 4 - Thunder Bay, Ontario to Tofte, Minnesota - Today  136 miles – total  miles 3187

I am sitting in on a couch in front of the fireplace looking out at Lake Superior. I can hear the waves and see the rain in the distance. Did you know that Lake Superior contains 10% of the fresh water in the world? 

Yesterday we drove south along the north shore of Lake Superior. We entered the U.S. and stopped at Grand Portage National Monument. It is a fort on the shore of Lake Superior where the Northwest Company held its fur trading rendezvous from about 1790 to 1803.

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We are staying at a resort called Bluefin Bay on Lake Superior. Our condo has floor to ceiling windows looking out at the lake which is only about 20 feet away. I could spend days here with no problem. Last night be got a pizza and had it for dinner by the fire.

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Road Trip – Canada – Keewatin, Ontario to Thunder Bay, Ontario

Day 11 – Wednesday, September 3 -  Keewatin, Ontario – Today 47 miles – total  miles 2741

Wednesday we didn't move. We stayed on Lake of the Woods. We explored the Kenora and Keewatin area and just took it easy. Kenora has a wonderful farmers market right on the water and seaplanes coming and going just off shore. This part of Canada has lots of fly in resorts and private islands. It is fun to think about spending time on a private island some day.

In the afternoon we sat on the deck in front of our B&B and played cribbage. It was a warm day with no wind and no bugs! Other than the fact that Duke beat me it was a perfect afternoon. I highly recommend the Spruce Lake Bed and Breakfast in Keewatin.

Duke on dock

Day 12 – Thursday, September 4 -  Keewatin, Ontario to Thunder Bay, Ontario – Today 310 miles – total  miles 3051

Thursday we drove to Thunder Bay on Lake Superior. Thunder Bay is in the eastern time zone and is the farthest east we will go on this trip. It is also Canada's biggest wheat terminal. The last several days we have seen lots of combines in the fields harvesting the wheat.

We have seen several wonderful waterfalls on this trip. Yesterday  we stopped at Kakabeka Falls just outside of Thunder Bay.  It seemed like the best but then I say that about all of the big ones.

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Road Trip – Canada – Riding Mountain National Park, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Keewatin, Ontario

Day 9 – Monday, September 1 -   Brandon, Manitoba, Canada to Winnipeg- Today  398 miles – total 2506 miles
Monday we left Brandon and headed north into Riding Mountain National Park. It started to rain soon after we got into the car and rained all day. In the national park we saw several buffalo and finally saw our first bears of the trip. We didn't see any bear in Yellowstone but we did see a mother bear and two cubs in Riding Mountain.

In the area north of Winnipeg we saw quite a bit of flooding. Apparently they have had a very wet summer and this additional rain had no where to go. We drove down the west coast of lake Winnipeg and spent the night in Winnipeg.

Day 10 – Tuesday, September 2 -  Winnipeg, Manitoba to Keewatin, Ontario – Today  188 miles – total 2694 miles

It is still rainy and overcast today. We decided to make a short day of it and and only drive to the Kenora area today. Kenora is at the north end of Lake of the Woods. We are stying at a lovely B&B overlooking Spruce Lake and have decided to spend two nights here. For dinner we ate at the top of the Best Western Hotel which is up seven stories overlooking Lake of the Woods. We had a wonderful view of the lake and al the islands many of which have cabins on them. The first picture below was taken from the balcony of our B&B. The second is from the restaurant where we had dinner tonight.

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Road Trip – Bismarck to Brandon

Day 8 – Sunday, August 31 -  Bismarck, North Dakota to Brandon, Manitoba, Canada – Today 365 miles miles – total 2108 miles

Sunday we left Bismarck and headed north. We stopped to look at the site of an old Indian village overlooking the Missouri. Farther north we stopped to check out Garrison Dam. It is the  fifth largest earthen dam in the world. Back before it was completed in 1954 they would never build homes along the river south of Bismarck. On this trip we saw lots of big expensive homes right on the river.

We had a picnic lunch in Minot. (That is where my Dad was born.) From Minot we went to the International Peace Garden. It is a beautiful big park and garden straddling the border and celebrating the peace between the U.S. and Canada.


Our border crossing went relatively smoothly although we must look suspicious because we were the only car that they asked to pull over. We had to get out while they searched us and the car for drugs or guns. They didn't find any!

We spent Sunday night about 80 miles north of the borer in the second largest city in Manitoba, Brandon, Manitoba. The population here is about 43,000. The weather has really cooled off. A cold front is going through. It was hot when we crossed the border but by the time we got here it was very windy and cold. Between the border and Brandon we did stop for a picture in Boissevain. They have a 22 foot statue of Tommy the Turtle!

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Road Trip continued – Beartooth Highway – Hardin, Montana – Little Big Horn, Montana, Dunn County, North Dakota and Bismarck, North Dakota

Day 5 – Thursday August 28 -  Canyon, Yellowstone National Park to Hardin, Montana – Today 246 miles – total 1266 miles

Thursday we left Yellowstone. We stopped for breakfast at the lodge at Tower – Roosevelt. Our view out he front window included the mountains and the meadows. It was one of my favorite places we ate in Yellowstone. From Yellowstone we drove from Cooke City, Montana to Red Lodge Montana over the Bear Tooth, Highway which climbs to 10,900 feet from the exit of Yellowstone at 7365 feet. It is a stunning highway that switchbacks up and up and then down and down.


We spent Thursday night in a Bed and Breakfast in Hardin , Montana

Day 6 – Friday, August 29 -  Hardin, Montana  to Bismarck, North Dakota- Today 477 miles – total 1743 miles

Friday morning before leaving Hardin we visited the Big Horn County Historical Museum. It included twenty historic structures including a one room school house, an old barn, an old log cabin and an old church. All of the building were furnished and fascinating to explore.

Next stop was the Little Bighorn Battlefield which is only 15 miles from Hardin. I visited the battlefield once when I was a kid and I had always wanted to go back. It was a fascinating and moving as I remembered it. The ranger who told us the story of the battle and the Indians and soldiers who were there was wonderful.

From Little Bighorn we drove into North Dakota and stopped in Dickinson where my great grandparents Erb are buried. We also went north in to Dunn County to try to find the remains of their homestead. My Erb Great grandparents moved form Iowa to Dunn county north east of Manning in 1910. My Robinson Great grandparents moved form Wisconsin to north west of manning in 1912. We didn't find the exact location of either homestead but we got a real feel for the country where they homesteaded. I can't even imagine trying to build a farm from scratch there. It is remote, very cold in winter, very hot in summer and rain is unpredictable and undependable.


From Dunn County we headed to Bismarck. I lived in Bismarck from when I was a baby until we moved to Australia when I was 13. I haven't been back since 1986 just before my Grandparents died.

Day 7 – Saturday, August 30 -  Bismarck, North Dakota- Today 0 miles – total 1743 miles

This morning Duke and I attended the memorial service for my childhood best friend's Father. It is just a coincidence that we are here for the service. He was a very special man. I am so glad we were able to attend.

This afternoon I gave Duke the Marion Robinson tour of Bismarck. We saw everything from my childhood home to my Grandfather's plaque in the North Dakota  Department of Transportation Hall of Honor to  the state capital.


It has been so much fun to see how Bismarck has changed and to see my old friends and to remember what it was like when I lived here. Tomorrow we are heading north to Canada.

Road Trip – Boise – SawTooth Mountains – EBR1 – Craters of The Moon – Rigby – Mesa Falls – Yellowstone

Duke and I are on great circle road trip. We haven't had Internet access the last few places we have stayed. But now I am sitting in our B&B in Hardin, Montana waiting for breakfast so I can do an update. The Internet here is very slow so I'll have to finish this and  add more pictures later. Update: Now I am in Bismarck, North Dakota. I've added my pictures to Flickr here.

Day 2 – Monday Aug 25 -  Boise, Idaho to Rigby, Idaho – today 391 miles – total 804 miles

From Boise we headed northeast around the Sawtooth Mountains and through the ski resort town of Sun Valley. The country is gorgeous with lots of mountain homes and ranches. We followed the Salmon River for a long ways and saw fly fisherman along the river and Orvis fishing outfitters in every town. As we left Sun Valley the terrain changed very quickly to high desert much like what we have around Reno.

Our next stop was Craters of The Moon National Monument. A whole line of old volcanoes created the terrain from Yellowstone, through southern Idaho to northeastern Nevada. The most recent volcanic activity in southeastern Idaho left vast expanses of black jagged black rocks and cinder cones. It is beautiful landscape but very forbidding. We climbed a cinder cone and explored a lava
tube cave.

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The Oregon Trail passed right along the edges of the mountains where the lava beds ended.  It was easy to see where sometimes it was very tight for the wagons to squeeze between the impassable lava formations and the steep mountains.

East of Craters of the Moon we stopped at EBR-1. As we approached it we had a guessing contest going to see what EBR stands for. It turns out that the Idaho National Labs in this location have built more nuclear reactors than an anywhere else in the world. EBR stands for Experimental Breeder Reactor. By the time we got there it was after 5 so unfortunately it was closed but it turns out EBR-1 was the world first nuclear power plant.

Monday night we stayed at the Blue Heron Bed and Breakfast in Rigby Idaho. The house was right on the Snake River. It was one of the nicest B&Bs I have ever stayed in. What a setting!

Day 3 – Tuesday Aug 26 – Rigby, Idaho to Old Faithful, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
       Today 145 miles – total 949 miles

Going north out of Rigby towards Yellowstone we decided to take a scenic byway that detours off to the east of highway 20.  We passed fields of golden wheat, lush green potato fields and then forests and rushing rivers. We stopped at Mesa Falls. I am amazed that I have never heard of them before. Both Upper and Lower Mesa Falls were stunning. A giant river full of water just dropping of the
edge of a cliff. The view point is right by the drop off.

In Yellowstone we stayed at the Old Faithful Inn. What a stunning building. We took a tour. The hotel  is over 100 years old. The lobby is 7 stories high and all made out lodge pole pine with a giant working fireplace in the center. The weather has really cooled off so we sat by the fire for a while and people watched.

Before dinner we went for a walk on the trail through the geysers. Wow! Every one if different. Giant Geyser only erupts twice a day but we happened to be there when it erupted. You get much closer to it than you do to Old Faithful. It erupts for about 5 minutes and shots well over 100 feet into the air. It is very close to two other geysers that go off at the same time. the whole show seemed like
a fantastic water fireworks show. When it finished the crowd applauded!

As we were coming into the park we saw several moose right along the river. We've  seen one deer and one coyote. By far the most prevalent animal so has been the buffalo. I bet we have seen at least 1000 lt different times. They walk down the middle of the road and stop traffic. There seem to be herds of them in every open  meadow. Every rock that moves as I look for bears turns out to be a loan bull.



Day 4 – Wednesday August 27 – Old Faithful to Canyon, Yellowstone National Park. – Today 71 miles – total 1020 miles

 We moved from the Old Faithful Inn to a cabin at the Canyon village in Yellowstone. I never realized that the grand canyon of the Yellowstone was so stupendous or that it contained two amazing waterfalls. We did several hikes to the overlooks.

Who was Jean Baptiste Charbonneau?

Reno, Nevada to Boise, Idaho – 413 miles

We just completed the first day of our road trip. We are in Boise, Idaho. There is a whole lot of wide open spaces between Reno and Boise but I love the wildness of it.

In south eastern Oregon we happened to see a road side historical site and decided to stop. Do you know who Jean Baptiste Charbonneau was? I should have known when I saw this sign but it didn't click.

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The sign below explains. It begins……

"This site marks the final resting place of the youngest member of the Lewis and Clark expedition. Born to Sacagawea and Toussaint Charbonneau at Fort Mandan (North Dakota) on February 11 1805."

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Here are a couple of other pictures of the site.

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We stopped at one other interesting roadside site. Who would think an area in eastern Oregon would be named for an outdated spelling of the word Hawaii!

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