Georgetown Loop Railroad and More

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

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Flag of United States  , Colorado
Sunday, September 8, 2013

We got up at 6:30 and had our checked luggage out in the hall before 7:00.  We went down to breakfast which was a hot and cold buffet and made to order things like omelets, pancakes etc.  Larry got an omelet, Derek and I ate from the hot buffet.  When we were done we went back to the room to finish getting ready.  Larry took our carry-on down to the bus.  We boarded the bus about 7:50 and were almost the last ones one so we had seats in the back of the bus.  We started west on I-70 through Denver.  Before long we were across town and past the suburbs.  We went by a house that looks like a spaceship and which was used in Woody Allen's movie, The Sleeper.  Shortly after that w went by a herd of Buffalo.  Shortly after that we went through one of many tunnels on our trip today.  Mark gave us a lot of background information on the Georgetown Loop Railroad and other interesting points along the way.

It was shortly after 9:00 that we arrived at Silverplume, the top end of the Georgetown Loop RR.  Mark bought tickets and we browsed the gift shop and waiting for the train to leave at 10:00.  We watched the steam engine get in place backwards to take us the 400 feet down in elevation.  The engine was on backwards so it would be going forward coming back up the hill.  Before long the Conductor was yelling ALL-A-BOARD.  We got on and headed for the open cars.  These were low cars built in the early 1900s that had been fitting with seats along each side.  With a blow of the whistle we were off.  Narrow gauge railroads were built in mountain areas so they could negotiate tighter curves and handle steeper grades.  We started down the mountain toward Georgetown going slow enough that you could stand up if you wanted to.  We went through several curves that snaked us down the mountain.  Our first stop was Lebanon Mining Station where you could buy a second ticket to take a mine tour.  We continued down the mountain and across the Devil's Gate bridge across Clear Creek.  The trestle curved and we kept going in a circle.  Then we stopped at Georgetown Station where more people got on.  While we were there the engine moved to the other end of the train to pull us up the mountain.  By the way the engine is a Shay Engine #9 and  it was built in Lima, Ohio.  Before going up the mountain we backed the rest of the way down the mountain going under Devil's Bridge to complete the loop.  The the train started chugging up the mountain.  We were closer to the front now and had a better view but we were also getting some of smoke and cinders.  It took longer to go back up but the trip was over before we knew it. 

We got back on the bus and headed back east to Georgetown for lunch.  When we got there it was sprinkling a little bit.  We drove down the main street which is filled with quaint shops that look like they haven't changed much in the last 100 years.  Larry, Derek, and I went to Lucha Cantina for Mexican Food.  Larry and Derek got local beers, I think.  I got a taco salad, Derek got a chimichanga and Larry got a burrito.  All of the food was great.  Larry and Derek said it was the best they had ever had.  I think the secret is that almost all the foods were fresh and locally grown.  It was a very "green" restaurant.  We visited a few shops before returning to board the bus at 1:15.  We bought some honey and Derek got some Huckleberry Jam.

During the next part of the trip the skies were dark, Mark was quiet, and we just watched the scenery which was ever changing.  We went through the Eisenhower Memorial Tunnel and several other tunnels.  We went under Loveland Pass, the Continental Divide, via another tunnel and started down the other side.  It was then that the Colorado River started being beside the road. We went by Vail which had so many ski resorts.   Mark came on the PA and told us we were coming to Glenwood Canyon. He told us that when Eisenhower was a young man in the Army in 1919, we was part of a company that was sent across country.  His company went through Glenwood Canyon.  It is said that he remarked that there has to be a better way to connect the east and west coasts.  When he was President he built the interstate highway system.  Well, Glenwood Canyon is 12.5 miles long and it is a dual level roadway all the way through.  Eisenhower did not want the walls of the canyon ruined so the engineers put the upper, westbound roadway on pilings and the eastbound road ran mostly beside the Colorado River.  It was amazing!  We stopped at the Grizzly Creek Rest Area and walked down to the river.  Some of us took off our shoes and waded in the river.  There were kayaks, paddleboards, rafts, and two girls in bikinis who just floated down the river.  We also saw people just floating in inner tubes.  The river is much bigger and swifter here than where we saw it in Rocky Mountain NP.  Tomorrow we will have lunch in Grand Junction where the Gunnison River joins the Colorado.

We got back on the bus and continued our journey across Colorado to Palisade.  We passed towns with interesting names like Silt, Rifle and Parachute.  About 5:00 we left the interstate at Palisade and were soon at the Wine Country Inn.  The valley we are staying in is filled with orchards and grapevines because of the irrigation they have from canals.  The Inn itself is surrounded by vineyards.  We got off the bus, gathered our carry-on, got our key from Mark and found our room.  This is another beautiful room, not as big as yesterday but very nice.  We rested a bit and then went for our free glass of wine.  Larry and Derek had Ten Acre Red which is made from the grapes grown around the Inn.  I had a Cabernet Sauvignon.  We sat outside and waited for the appetizers, cheese, fruit, and crackers. 

Before long it was time for supper in the Pavilion outside.  It was in the 70s and very pleasant.  There was complimentary wine and beer with the meal.  We sat at a table with Peggy and Joe from Huron and Dick and Judy from Dover.  Joe and Judy are sister and brother.  Joe was a high school science teacher and we had a lot to talk about.  Peggy is a breast cancer survivor of 2 years so we hit it off too.  We had great conversation as we enjoyed another fantastic meal: salad, roll, pistacchio encrusted chicken breast skewered with shrimp, garlic mashed potatoes and a summer medley of vegetables.  Then Mark talked to us about tomorrow and took up a collection of two dollars each to buy Power Ball Tickets tomorrow.  How fun!  If we win we will take home about 1.5 million each.   Then we had dessert,  Pallisade peach cobbler with strawberry sauce and vanilla ice cream.  There was 1/2 a very large peach on top of puffed pastry.  Palllisade Valley is famous for its peaches and has a Peach Festival every year.  Supper concluded shortly after 8:00 and I came up to the room to do the blog and Larry and Derek stayed outside by the fire pit.  It was getting a little chilly.
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