Day 11

Colorado To Illinois

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May 25, 2006 Woke up, started packing, and I couldn't find the bag that my sleeping bag packs into. I rummaged around and, after way too long, found it in the backpack that I had put in the van. This put me behind for the morning, and I was about the last one in the van ready to go. I hate making people wait on me.

We headed out, east on 160. The valley before Wolf Creek is really nice. You hit Pagosa Springs, which is a nice little town, and then you go through a valley with a lot of nice sized ranches, with a pretty little river running right through the valley. Very scenic. And, of course, you are starting to see taller mountains with snow on them in the background. That never hurts. We passed Treasure Falls as we started up the hill to Wolf Creek Pass. I could see it out the van window, and it looked like it would be a nice place to stop at some point. Not on this trip, though. From above, the valley was even more spectacular. We got up to the top, and got out and walked around a little bit. David and myself walked out across the snow, and he managed to make a sort of snowball, even though the snow was really hard packed at this point. We took several pictures, read about the Continental Divide, and I noticed trailhead signs saying that the peak was only a mile or two away. But, not a hike for this trip. It's almost as though we went west to hike the Grand Canyon, and not hike around in the mountains. Go figure. We piled back in the van and continued east. Shortly after the pass we passed (ha ha) Wolf Creek Ski area. It wasn't as big as I had expected. We came down off the hill, and the area just didn't seem quite as nice as the area on the western side.

On the high plains (about 8,000 feet or so) now. -- Right past Del Norte. -- Coming into Monte Vista. Must be good sized. -- Going through Alamosa. I spent about 20 minutes of air time on the cell phone checking my email. It doesn't look like things have blown up back at work. -- Just crossed the Rio Grande. Not a very big river at this point. Bob said it doesn't get a whole lot larger, even down in Texas. -- Going by the Great Sand Dunes right now. Mount Blanc, a 14er, is right here too. Bob said he had been up 8 or 9 14ers. -- Finally got into I-25 from 160. Came up through Pueblo, and now we are about 30 miles south of Colorado Springs. I starting seeing Pikes Peak about 15 miles back. Lots of Yucca plant alongside the road. -- Just passed through Colorado Springs. It's always depressing to leave the mountains behind, knowing that you have nothing but relative flatness to look forward to. Guess it's time to start reading a book....

Read "Into Thin Air" about Mount Everest in 1996. Rachael had the book, and I had been eying it the entire trip. After leaving Colorado Springs I asked if I could look at it, and read the whole thing over the course of the next few hours. We stopped in Limon, Colorado to gas up and eat up at a Subway. We just went through Salina, Kansas. -- Stopped at an Arby's west of Topeka. I got a beef & cheese sandwich and a shake. The plan was for Bob to gas up the van while we got food, but there wasn't a suitable place to get fuel. So, we tried an exit in Topeka for fuel. No station was immediately obvious that sold diesel. We did get to drive in front of the Topeka jail, though. So, we stopped at another exit. Lucky was commenting that I had a radio announcer's voice. That has never really occurred to me. Anyway, at this exit, we were able to get fuel. Farther on down the road a few miles we stopped at one of the "comfort stations" on the toll road that had a Hardees. Bob had been craving a Hardees burger, so he bought one. From there, I took a nap. I woke up a few times here and there. I noticed the Centralia , Missouri exit about 11:30 pm, and then we stopped at a rest area. Bob wanted to catch a few Z's himself. So, we slept in the van until around 4am. Then Bob woke up and we started going again. We stopped at the Flying J on the 270 circle around Saint Louis, and we are now nearing Mattoon - Charleston.

-- End Of Journal

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You can also look at some of my thoughts about the entire trip.