Trains, Red Rocks, and Beginning of the Tour

Trip Start Aug 29, 2013
Trip End Sep 15, 2013

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Flag of United States  , Colorado
Saturday, September 7, 2013

We got up at 7:15, had breakfast, and headed east on Rt. 50.  Our first stop was Cimaron where there was a display of Denver and Rio Grande Trains.  We drove back the canyon to see the original trestle where they usually display a narrow gauge steam engine, tender car, box car, and caboose.  But they weren't on the trestle.  Larry had read that they had been taken somewhere for restoration.  But at the Visitor's Center there was a display of three cars, two of which were cattle cars and one which was double layered for sheep or pigs.  We spent a little while there and when we left we noticed some other cars behind a fence.  Once we were back on the highway Larry could see them behind a motel.  We drove on for a couple of miles, then Larry decided to turn around and go back to check them out.  Sure enough, they were the restored Engine 278, the tender, the box car, and the caboose.  I took a picture of them from the road because they were behind locked gates.

We headed down the highway and soon came to road construction.  It was single lane through the mountains.  We got stopped and waited over 15 minutes for the pilot truck to come by bringing vehicles from the east.  It took us another 10-15 minutes to get through the one lane road.  So it took  us about an hour to go the first 20 miles of the day.  We took 50 East past the Blue Mesa Reservoir and through the Curecante National Recreation Area.  We went back through Gunnison and through several very small villages and then we started to climb up to Monarch Pass, another point of the Continental Divide at 11,312 feet.  We stopped to take a picture and toyed with the idea of riding the Scenic Tram to the top of Monarch Mountain.  Erin tried to call me when we were in the mountains but it went to voice mail.  When I tried to call her back I couldn't hear her well, so I called her when we got to the valley where there were cell towers.  We had a good conversation.  We decided not to and then started down about 15 miles at 6% and 7% grades.  We looked for a place for a picnic, saw one, but we weren't really hungry yet, so we went on.   As the road started to level out we reached Poncha Springs where we headed north on Rt. 285.  This took us through the Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area which was an area of rolling hills and wide valleys.  We went over Trout Creek Pass at 9,346 ft. and by Antero Reservoir.  After the town of Fairplay we went through Red Hill Pass at 9,993 ft. and Kenosha Pass at 10,000 ft.  Then we started descending out of the mountains again on steep grades until we reached the town of Conifer where we again met civilization and a four lane highway.  No where along this 2 hour drive did we find a place for a picnic.  We got off of 285 at Rt. 8 and headed north to Red Rocks Park.  We stopped at the Trading Post and found tables on a back deck where we finally ate.  By this time is was after 1:30 and we were starving.  After our lunch we drove through the Red Rocks and took pictures.  We drove through the stone arch and stopped at the Amphitheater but we couldn't get in because there was a concert tonight.  So we drove to the Geologic Marker and walked up to it.  It was a high point so you could see a lot of the park and all the way to downtown Denver.  We liked Red Rocks but we think Garden of the Gods is better.

We headed north out of the park to Rt. 70 and it took us about half an hour to get to the Embassy Suites at the Airport.  We got checked in and took our bags to the room.  WOW!  We have a suite with a bedroom, sitting room, bathroom and a little kitchenette.  Larry left to take the car back to the airport where a shuttle from Embassy Suites picked him up and brought him back.  He was back before very long. Derek called to tell us his flight had landed early and he was going to go to the other side of the airport to meet up with the flight coming from Akron/Canton.   I stayed in the room checking emails and Larry went to the lobby to wait for Derek and the rest of them to arrive.  While he was gone Derek called to say that the flight was delayed by about half an hour.  Derek asked me to have the hotel send the shuttle.  So I went downstairs, told Larry, went to the desk to ask them to send a shuttle.  Then I called Derek and told him where to be.  I went back to the room and before long, Larry and Derek were walking in the door.  All three of us went to the bar in the lobby where they had free drinks and appetizers from 5:30-7:30.  Well, the free beer was Budweiser and I got a house white wine.  Larry and Derek do not really care for Bud, but it was FREE!  While we were drinking my phone rang and it was Mark Warther inquiring if they needed to wait for Derek.  I told him Derek had already arrived.  Before long the bus arrived from the airport with the other people who just got in.  We were supposed to have supper at 6:00 and it ended up being after  6:30.  We finally met Mark Warther the tour leader whom we had only spoken to on the phone.  His family has the Warther Museum in Dover, Ohio.  There are 46 people + Mark on the tour.  We sat at a table with Gene and Ellie Meder from Hamilton, Ed and Ginny Weeger from Fairborn, friends with Gene and Ellie, and Tom and Judy Foushee from Cleveland.  For supper we had Caesar Salad, roasted potatoes, mixed veggies, chicken breast with an amazing rosemary and tarragon sauce, London Broil. and a hard roll.  For dessert there was red velvet cake.  Most of the time the open bar was going on right outside. We had great conversation at our table and we were the last ones to leave.  When we finished eating Mark passed out a paper with everyone's name and a paper with our orders for some of the meals where there are choices.  He told us that checked bags need to be outside our rooms at 7:00 and we leave at 8:00 tomorrow.  There is breakfast in the lobby and it is cooked to order.  After going over some of the other details, he asked us to fill out our dinner preferences and turn them in.  When we turned them in he gave us tickets for each meal, color-coded for each of the three days we had to choose meals.  We also picked up our name badges which are made of sturdy plastic with a magnetic back and they have the logo of the Warther Museum.  Pretty classy!  They are not like the ones you see hanging around people's necks on most tours.

Larry and Derek decided to visit Vinny's Bar just down the street where Larry and I ate our first night in Denver.  They wanted to have a "real" beer.  I stayed behind to write the blog.
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