After a slightly frantic getaway we spend the first 90 minutes crawling north on I-25 which reminds us of all the reasons we like to exit the Interstates and travel back roads when the opportunity arises. Looking for routes we’ve never traveled we catch US85 north of Greeley heading for the border. We are soon greeted with “Road Work Ahead” and spend time waiting in line and inching forward. 

Across the Wyoming line we’re intrigued by acres of sunflowers. Are they destined for roasted seeds, oil or some use unknown to us? Even in the late afternoon light every plant is facing east to greet tomorrow morning’s sun.

Day 1 - At WorkWhen checking into the Holiday Inn Express we learn they host an evening reception – free beer, wine and munchies. After our afternoon clean-out-the-refrigerator lunch we’re not interested in sitting down to a full dinner. Veggies and dip, cheese and crackers all we need for an evening snack plus an adult beverage to ease the day’s pace; plus, a fresh baked cookie for bedtime. A perfect welcome to Torrington, Wyoming. 

I spend the evening planning our itinerary and making reservations for the next few nights. Above all we’re thrilled to be on the road again.

Road Home

We retraced out first day in reverse for the final leg of our trip, heading east on US40 and then I-70. Cloudy skies bring light rain to the Yampa Valley and Steamboat Springs. We’re surprised at how much autumn color still adorns the hills and mountain sides. Know from reports and photos that we’ve missed one of the best Colorado fall seasons in years.


Steamboat Valley Color


Approaching Berthoud Pass newly fallen snow dusts slopes and rain becomes more constant. Resembling steam, clouds drift out of the valleys. As I drive Bob takes several windshield photos.


Berthoud Pass Snow Berthoud Pass Clouds


We left a month ago under rain and dense fog and return to the Denver area under a downpour. As we pull into the driveway the trip odometer reads 6,005 – miles traveled through nine states, two Canadian providences, countless experiences and memories.

A Carousel for Missoula – and, Bob

Bob at Missoula Carousel

When we travel we like to ride historic and/or hand-carved carousels, from New York state to Oregon we’ve visited these artistic creations. It took four years and over 100,000 hours of volunteer effort before the Carousel for Missoula took it’s first spin in 1995, truly a community effort and labor of love.


We’ve visited this Missoula treasure at least a half-dozen times when traveling through the area. When Bob made his bucket list for this trip high on that list was the Carousel for Missoula. We took two separate spins this afternoon – around and around at a pretty good clip. Afterwards we learned it is the second fastest carousel  in the United States. Bob’s smile was every bit as large as a three-year-old’s. The price was certainly right – 75 cents for seniors. We agree with their motto, “Where happiness comes full circle.”


Next on the carousel checklist is the one in Spokane’s Riverside Park. Check back in a few days.


Missoula Carousel Door

Travel Log – September 11, 2014

Centennial, Colorado – Vernal, Utah

Ridge at Dinasaur NM

Although the main goal for the day was putting some miles behind us as we head towards the Pacific Northwest we must have a least one activity. Our last visit to Dinosaur National Monument occurred in 1973, wasn’t it time for a revisit? What was intended as an hour off the highway stretched to nearly three as we explored the southwestern section of the park north of Jensen, Utah.


Quarry Interior Please Touch

The Quarry Exhibit Hall encloses a wall of an excavation site encasing more than 1,500 dinosaur bones including Allosaurus, Apatosaurus, Camarasaurus, Diplodicus and Stegosaurus of the Jurassic Period. To every 4-year-old’s delight, in one area, you’re actually encouraged to touch. Or, see how you measure up to a femur bone.


Skull Bob - Measuring Up

The Monument includes much more than just fossils – canyons and fertile valleys the Green and Yampa Rivers,  ancestral history dating back thousands of years and the remnants of twentieth-century ranch life. We followed the Tour of the Tilted Rocks along Cub Creek Road searching out petroglyphs and pictographs – rock art left by inhabitants centuries past.


Goats & Guys

Rock NecklaceThe longer we study the panels the more details we note. While some images are easy to decipher (goats and men), others are left to interpretation.  Where they messages, historic records or decorative? Looks like a necklace design to me.


The road ends in a secluded, shady vale that was home to Josie Basset for 50 years. Walking through the dirt-floored cabin we can only imagine life as she knew it. We’re enticed by a couple of  trails leading to nearby canyons but it’s time to hit the road towards tonight’s destination – Vernal, Utah.

Josie's Cabin

Remembering 9/11

One regret from today is that we didn’t take the time to capture photographs of two inspirational sights. Two Colorado towns we passed through made special efforts to mark this 13th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attack.


In front of the Granby fire station an extra large American flag hung suspended between the outstretched ladders of two gleaming red fire trucks.


Along the entire length of Victory Avenue (the route of US40) in Craig, Colorado was lined with literally hundreds of American flags, a project of the local Rotary club.


Stirring sights noting respect, honor and resolve – We will NOT forget!

Drive to Taos

No matter how many times we make the nearly 300-mile drive from the Denver area to Taos, New Mexico there’s always excited anticipation. In light of mid-summer paving projects on I-25 we opt to try bypasses for both Colorado Springs and Pueblo.


Bob at Pass KeyHeading west on US50 we spot a Pass Key Restaurant – a Pueblo tradition. Their Italian sausage sandwich is a favorite indulgence for Bob. We normally stop at the restaurant on Abriendo Avenue (near the original site of Pass Key Drive-In circa 1952)  so the US 50 location is new to us although they’re celebrating their 25th anniversary. Bob had his first Pass Key sausage sandwich in 1963 and could hardly wait for today’s edition.


Reaching Taos we’re delighted to get settled into the casita we’ve rented each summer for several years. Casa de las Abuelas is a modern adobe haven on a quiet Taos Lane. The private courtyard and patio calls us for a leisurely evening. For the next ten days our Taos home away from home.


Casita Patio

Castle Cafe – Castle Rock, CO

Pan Fried Chicken


How do you want your chicken – deep fried, roasted, broasted? I long for fried chicken right out of the cast-iron skillet, crispy skin, cooked to perfection just like Sunday dinner to Grandma’s decades ago. Pan fried chicken is nearly impossible to find in all of the Denver metropolitan area. A half-hour south of town there’s a cafe where we’re welcome to sit down to a family-style dinner highlighted by a platter of pan fried chicken.


Castle Cafe Chicken


We arrived on a Saturday a few minutes after five to occupy the last available table. Castle Cafe, in downtown Castle Rock, opens Monday-Friday for lunch, however the chicken dinner is only available during dinner hours, 4:30pm-close Monday-Saturday, 11:30am-8pm Sunday.


The dinner menu includes a full range of appetizers, soups, salads, sandwiches, entrées and desserts. By far, the chicken dinner stars in popularity. Served family style for two or more orders the meal starts with a choice of soup, salad or slaw. The menu notes “Chicken is Cooked to Order – Please Allow 30 Minutes). Having skipped lunch we ordered a queso dip and chips with our drinks.


Sooner than expected a large tray of dishes was headed our way. A platter of chicken (each order includes ½ chicken), mashed potatoes, crackling gravy, veggies and homemade Parker House rolls. Even with high expectations we were not disappointed. Of course we couldn’t finish everything so a full box of leftovers accompanied us home. Desserts were tempting but we were much too well fed to indulge.


We noted that many extended families gathered for the chicken dinner, reminding us again of those long ago dinners at Grandma’s. With the restaurant’s popularity unless you’re willing to wait arrive early.  On this rainy evening people even waited outside under the awning and umbrellas. They won’t be disappointed.


When You Go: Castle Cafe, 403 Wilcox St., Castle Rock, CO, 303-814-2233,

Chihuly in the Gardens

Denver Botanic Gardens & Desert Botanical Gardens

Purple Blue Boat


As we stroll the Denver Botanic Gardens and admire the Chihuly glass installations we’re reminded of seeing some of these same extraordinary pieces in the Sonoran Desert setting of the Desert Botanical Gardens in Phoenix, Arizona.


AZ - Purple Blue Boat


Variations between an arid dessert and a mile-high Rocky Mountain environment offers interesting contrasts. Saguaro and a plethora of other cacti, palms and palo verde create the backdrop in Phoenix. In Denver themes include Rock Alpine, Lilac, Woodland, Montane, Japanese and plains gardens.


AZ - Ball BoatAlthough Denver has a semi-arid climate, there are more water features in the gardens giving additional visual opportunities. Boats dry docked in the desert rest in lily pad studded ponds with striking reflections.




Ball Boat



We’ve been fortunate to see Chihuly permanent collections and special exhibitions in museums and gardens in a dozen cities. There may be similarities but no two shows are identical. In fact there may be changes during the course of an exhibition. Special glass pieces may appear in entirely different arrangements.


AZ - Green HornetsGreen Hornets in Pond



Please enjoy this slide show featuring the contrasting installations seen in earlier shows at the Desert Botanical Gardens and the current one at the Denver Botanic Garden (open until November 30, 2014).


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 We always see something we’ve never seen before, a new creation making every exhibition unique.

AZ - Blue Spiky Orb

Phoenix 2014


Denver 2014

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