Sunday, May 28, 2006

Alaska Day 11-12

Creede CO to Rawlins WY via Rifle CO
Friday May 26, 2006. Today we face a real test of the engine overheating problem. We have a clean radiator, the muffler and exhaust pipe are "securely" attached, and we have a new insight as to how to shift the transmission during hill climbs. The test is Slumgullion Pass at 11,361 feet. We leave Creede at 8500 feet and start toward Lake City, the route we traveled yesterday to the Jeep road over Cinnamon Pass. The Discovery performs flawlessly. The temperature stays down and it appears that the fuel mileage is much improved. The exhaust system must affect the computer data that controls the operation of the engine.

The Scenery is fantastic after passing the community of Lake City; the road winds through a deep canyon beside the Lake Fork River. Hard to watch the road with all the beauty surrounding us. Herb has traveled this road on the motorcycle, but at somewhat greater speeds. Hwy 149 crosses the Gunnison River about 9 miles west of Gunnison CO. Here we join US 50 and turn west following the Gunnison River and Reservoir. Just before Montrose, we turn north in the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. It is still a little early to stop for the day, but the park is situated along the rim of a huge canyon with steep walls. Jake had no fear going right up the edge and looking over. The canyon was so named because at Warner point at 2,772 ft deep, it was so narrow with very little sunlight able to get in,and so deep that early travelers found it shadowy and foreboding. Molten rock formed crystals of quartz and garnet as it cooled, and the lighter colored rock, called pegmatite dikes, weathered more slowly and resulted in the rugged walls seen.

Back on 50 West and into Grand Junction where we join I-70 East for about 60 miles to Rifle CO. The interstate follows the Colorado River where we pass some nice campgrounds and pullouts that would have been a nice place to stop and arrive in Rifle for the night. After fueling up at $3.169, we see a new Wal-mart Super center. We pull in over to one side and park near a great bike path that follows the interstate behind motels and business parks. We have a restful evening, and before leaving the next morning, we spend about $40 in Wal-mart. We find that it is more expensive to stay in Wal-marts than in a regular just seems less expensive.

Saturday May 27, 2006. Leaving Rifle CO, we head north on CO 13 through the little communities of Meeker and Craig. North of Craig, the winds become noticeable as we pass through some very desolate country. Lots of Oil and Gas activity though. I notice that the crude tanks at the wells are painted a dull tan to match the terrain. A nice touch that the oil companies I am sure are glad to do in order to drill and produce in this region. By the time we get to I-80 in Wyoming, the winds have picked up tremendously. As we turn East on 80, the winds out of the South make for some interesting Discovery dancing in our lane of travel. By the time we reach Rawlins and fuel up at the Flying J ($2.799), we are ready to stop at RV World Campground at Exit 211. This is a Passport America site and we pay $12. Lots of rabbits and ground squirrels that get Jake's attention. The winds continue until dusk when they die down and start up again the next day.

Lots of history here that is captured by the Wyoming Frontier Prison and Museum, and the Carbon County Museum. "Big Nose" George, who was associated with Jesse James' gang, killed two deputies in 1878, persuaded the law not to hang him and he would rat on his partners. After an attempted escape from jail, he was taken by a lynch mob and strung up on a telephone pole. Two doctors did an autopsy to study his brain in order to determine what caused his criminal behavior. Dr. John Osborne removed skin from the body, had it tanned and made into shoes which he wore to his inauguration as territorial governor to 1893. Not sure the good guys were any better than the bad guys.

Day 11 and 12 pictures are here.

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