Cowboy Country! - Colorado and Wyoming
Trip Start Apr 17, 2011
23Trip End Jul 20, 2011
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The next day we headed for Denver, and in particular a spot just before Denver that I had wanted to see. It is an outdoor natural rock amphitheatre that many years ago was set up with seating and made into an outdoor entertainment venue that seats over 9,000 people. It is called The Red Rock Amphitheatre and there were a lot of visitors, as well as people on stage preparing for a concert, that it turned out was being held that night. So after booking in to our room at Denver which was over 1/2 an hour away we returned at night for some of the youth concert and the film "Footloose'. From the theatre seats you could see Denver in the distance and it is quite a Denver iconic facility. So now we have been re-introduced to some of the ways of the young! All in all a good day & night.
The next morning we went to the Denver museum which we had been told was really worthwhile and then after lunch there, drove on to a place called Estes Park which is in the Rocky Mountains National Park, still in Colorado
The National Park was lovely. Lots of mountains of course, snow, fast creeks & rivers and wild life. Included were deer, elks, caribou, a moose, squirrels which are common in USA, chipmunks, and occasional other critters. We loved the place. In particular the day we left and the road that we travelled called the Mountain Ridge Road. It had only been open for a few days and at some places the snow was about 10 feet or more high at the side of the road. It is the highest paved mountain road in North America and took us over 12,000 feet I think. Our route out took us through steep mountainous roads alongside snow and in view of even higher mountains & we loved it.
Our aim that day was to reach friends who live in the south of Wyoming in a little place called Encampment. We arrived in good time just as our host was going off to a prayer meeting regarding the flood threat to the next town of Saratoga. So we went with her & saw not only the other parts of the towns but the flood threat situation as well.
We left our friends who had been overwhelmingly hospitable on Saturday and headed for a long drive to Mt Rushmore in South Dakota. We had a late lunch at a place called Guernsey which has some very interesting places of significance. In the early wagon train days they were hampered by the big river and had to go over a decent sized hill to avoid it and continue on. At one point many of them inscribed their names & the date in limestone cliffs & names now date from the late 1700's to present day graffiti-ists. But there are many through the 1800's that are quite visible.The other place of interest nearby was the route that the wagon trains took along the limestone hill. Their steel wheels wore away the soft limestone and the roadway is entrenched in the hill to a depth of 4 feet or so as one after the other followed the same track before coming out on the plains and going their various ways.
I am still surprised by the number of usually, very long trains that we are seeing, with up to 5 locomotives pulling & pushing them. We eventually reached the mountain area we were seeking. The first point of call was at the mountain where there is a big project which has been going for many years to honour the American Indians
We were again late getting to our motel so had to rush back to Mt Rushmore without having tea to see the talk & film before the lights are put on the President's faces every night. As the short talk from a Ranger and then a film were shown to probably almost 2000 of us a thunder storm came from behind the mountain, and it all looked great as the lightning flashes lit up the mountain. But then the storm came and we all got soaked. So my first impressions of Mt Rushmore was that it was a rush to get there and a rush to leave. However we returned this morning to enjoy it in sunshine and at relative leisure before heading off again.
Today we almost crossed the whole state of Wyoming after leaving Colorado and the Mt Rushmore area. Once again a lot of driving and we were surprised and delighted by the magnificent countryside that we travelled through. One particular spot was 'Deadwood' and it was a real old historic cowboy town deep in a mountain valley. I remembered the Doris Day song about ..the Deadwood stage is a coming on over the hill... and Kathy found it on Google & even got the song from the film "Calamity Jane". The town has a lot of Wild Bill Hickock history and we stopped in the Visitor Centre for a while but had to move on. Tonight we have been in an historic town called Cody. We had dinner in Buffalo Bill Cody's original hotel and then went to the Cody Night Rodeo which is an historic feature of the town. Excellent food and a fun night out. We are only about 50 miles from Yellowstone National Park where we will spend tomorrow.