10/19/2004: Salida to Montrose, Westward in Colorado
So, we woke in Salida, CO. Well, I did first. After a shower and packing, I went over to the breakfast room to try to let Karen sleep. I took a couple of snapshots of the sunrise, and then sat in the little public room to browse the internet and to write. I was soon joined by a couple of guys from the Netherlands. The extroverted one was an anesthesiologist on his way to a conference in Las Vegas. We talked about scenery and politics. He felt that Europeans are more involved in the upcoming election than any time in memory. With the exception of Poland, polls are 95-5 against the incumbent. His impression of U.S. news sources is that all the media are in the pocket of the White House. Especially Fox and CNN, but even NBC seemed to him to bias subtly toward Shrub.
Anyway, we had a nice chat.
So, once Karen was up and around, we walked around Salida. We had cappuccino and (I quote Karen), "Oh my God good pie" at Billy Bongo's Salida Cafe. We sat on the deck facing the river. The breeze was pretty chilly, but when the sun was out it wasn't too bad in our jackets. The kayak slalom markers swayed in the breeze. They hold the National Kayak races right here in the spring.
Once we were charged up, we wandered around and looked into the shops. Balloonatics was fun. The artist in residence makes colorful balloon-like ornaments from recycled light bulbs! He's made some for quite a variety of famous personages, including the Pope and (as he put it) "Bush the First."
Anyway, by noon we headed uphill. We left the west behind and crossed the continental divide at Monarch Pass (11,370 ft). I got some popcorn at the tourist stand. This time, I felt the giddy RMHigh, rather than the oppressive hypoxia I'd felt on Pike's Peak before I'd acclimated at all.
So we drove down through more of the same. You know, breathtaking mountain scenery that just doesn't photograph well. We went to visit our old friend, the Black Canyon of the Gunnison just before it closed. This gorge is twice as deep as the Royal Gorge, and not as easy to get to. The Visitor's center is at 8,300 feet, and the river is at about 6,000.
Karen kept singing lines from "Smoke on the Water" because "We all came out to Montreux on the Lake Geneva shoreline" sounds like our destination, Montrose, CO.
We spent the night in Montrose, a town whose only redeeming feature (to us) is that it is 8 miles from the entrance to the access road to the Black Canyon. The only WiFi we found in town is in a Motel that was not only expensive and booked up, but the broadband was down. We stayed across the street, and I'm online via the Bugs Bunny-Road Runner sounds of dial-up.
Following us on a map? Well, today we finally leave U.S. 50 (it ends at Montrose) to head down U.S. 550, in stretches known as "The Million Dollar Road". I hope the overcast and predicted snow don't impose too much on the scenery.