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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