Another big number of hours to cover in the saddle today and we had our bikes booked in to drop off to the bike shop to be serviced and a new rear tyre for both bikes and replacement highway pegs for mine and as we were skating around serious rain we didn't waste a lot of time but the ride was AWESOME ... at least until we were heading from Colorado Springs to Denver when the rain finally caught up with us and proceeded to dump large amounts on us and cover the road with what resembled shallow flowing lakes and the road spray like fog above the road in the distance and a steamy shower when we were in it. Not pleasant but got here safely so that was the aim.There's been a tornado watch on Denver all day and will remain on tomorrow and Denver had 2 feet of hail yesterday would you believe and it had to be cleared from roads with snow plows so it could have been a lot worse. Almost impossible for this Aussie to imagine. Yesterday's ride was awesome as well by the way, lots of sweeping corners as today and more tight ones yesterday than today but all beautiful riding.
We headed for Royal Gorge through Canon City then on up to Cripple Creek an historic gold mining town and the gold mining is still going on in the casinos which are all over the town. Even the cafe we had our coffee at was buzzing and clanging. We had hoped to get a look at Pikes Peak but reserved our decision on how much time we had to get the bikes in and what the weather was doing but even if we had plenty of time the weather ruled it out with the mountain wreathed in clouds and worse. From there we headed to Woodland Park and through Manitobu Springs which are obviously the go to places for ski resorts. Very speccie and then somehow coming into Colorado Springs the GPS Gods had the last laugh and we went round in many circles before we were finally heading for Denver and then it was full throttle between rain when the roads were dry but the trip took a good hour longer than anticipated.
The historic bridge at Royal Gorge which is now a heritage centre and no longer used other than as a footbridge.
The ride to Cripple Creek was incredibly beautiful and no traffic to speak of so very enjoyable. Way too many great sights and way too few safe spots to pull off for photos ... probably just as well. This is one of the great vistas we saw taken from Norm's bike.
And a speccie rocky outcrop amongst grassland and forest on the way into Cripple Creek also.
A quirky house in Cripple Creek which Norm liked.
And a street shot typical of the town. Substantial brick buildings climbing up and down very steep hills and the altitude was 2,950m here so the hills were a challenge.
A cute manhole cover outside our cafe stop.
A shot of the historical museum precinct in the town.
And a view from an overlook above on our way out. 3,166m here. As we climbed in altitude it was obvious that spring was slow coming as the leaves had barely started to open out on the deciduous trees.
A view to Pikes Peak, the cloud cover increased and we stayed away.
After dinner we took a couple of photos and the city looked pretty all dressed up in lights above and below.
Bits and Bobs:
Below, two signs on the restroom wall at Royal George, self explanatory.
Just after we got in to the bike shop the skies opened up with big fat rain then thunder and lightening complete with green fizzing flashes in the rider training yard beyond the shop. We were glad it poured rain as we had been covered in some concrete cutting spray on our way off a ramp to the shop so the bikes were covered as were our visors, which made for an interesting trip to the shop!
This won't be coming home with us, just silly.
Last Night's Accommodation:
Forgot the photo sorry.
Courtyard by Marriott Pueblo Downtown, 110W 1st Street / City Center Drive, Pueblo, CO, 81003
Nice hotel and not too much drama or traffic to get through to get here. Thankfully free parking on site so we checked in showered and headed for a catch up and plan for tomorrow then dinner and bed. Free wifi also. Breakfast available and Starbucks Bistro available for meals throughout day.
We headed off early because we had around 5 hours actual traveling to do and wanted a bit of time to stop and explore and the day became a collection of great visual sights and experiences .... and it was nice to finish off the day with a 121kmh speed limit to knock over the last 80km in spite of the strong wind gusts. We had strong wind from Alamosa including getting tangled up in a willy willy (well that's what we Aussies call them) complete with tumbleweed on our way to the Great Sand Dunes National Park, thankfully I kept the bike straight and was soon out of it, and saw many more in the distance as we approached the park.
Not long on the road we came across the Rio Grande and this shot is just south of the Visitor centre.
And further north we had climbed up onto the rim of the canyon and this is a shot as we did.The plain reached for miles and was covered in prolific grass growth.
Coffee at Taos and this is a shot across part of the square which was very nice. Snow capped peaks in the distance.
And just out of Taos on Route 64 we found the Rio Grande Grande Bridge built across the canyon in 1965. Impressive to say the least!
And as we climbed this poodle cloud popped up over the hill.
Lunch in Saint Luis. A tired little town but quirky in it's own way.
And a shot of the Blanca Peaks (14,345 feet) and still under snow as you can see.
And we arrive at the Great Sand Dunes National Park.
Doesn't look all that impressive but people 1.5 miles away climbing the dunes looked like ants.
Coffee at a quirky little spot in Fort Garland.
Heading back to the freeway we climbed up over some spectacular country, away from the dessert lands to pine and grass covered hills and lush growth. There were signs up to beware of Elk, not surprising, the growth was long and green and lush and water galloping down beside the road in marshy ground. Beautiful.
And just cresting the top of the pass (2,856m).
Bits and Bobs:
Thought I'd found my own coffee cafe this morning in Taos (pronounced Touse) but spelt wrong, ah well, the coffee was welcome anyway.
And on our way into Pueblo came across this, looks like everything but the kitchen sink was on board.
Last Two Night's Accommodation:
Inn on the Alameda, 303 East Alameda, Santa Fe, NM 87505
Well what a treat to find this hotel. We looked at many when we were selecting them many months ago and it looked good but it is way beyond that. In a star rating of 5 it would be around 8! The buildings themselves are unique (adobe walls with timber and terracotta finishes in keeping) and rooms either have a terrace or balcony to relax on as well as many other places to relax ( including a hot tub) and just enjoy the lovely outdoors which really is lovely. Not as humid at this altitude but comfortable. Lavish breakfast included, free parking and wifi and cheese and drinks in the and dinner in the restaurant was just delicious. The staff are really hospitable, helpful and warmly welcoming, we could just melt into the place and stay on. Felt like we were being welcomed into their family home without them being pushy or in our face. A treasure!
We headed off early before it got too hot for a round trip out to the Bandelier National Monument (a National Park) and Jemez State Monument. We were going to go to Albuquerque for some more Route 66 sights but they must have been a long way to the west of the town because when we checked the GPS it was a long distance and we wanted to get back to Santa Fe before it got too hot so didn't go there and were glad we didn't as we had a chance to wander around the town before heading back to the hotel for a drink and to chill a little before dinner. The sights we saw today were spectacular on a very grand scale. They were every bit as spectacular as the Texan Grand Canyon we visited a couple of days ago but the cliffs, escarpments and mesas were just separated by more land between (usually) and the colours of the sand / rock varied from sand white to deep ochre red and almost black and everything in between. The photos really don't do it justice and the 2D effect also diminishes it. Ah well, will list them anyway. We reached 2,776m before we started to descend. It was beautifully cool at the high altitude and got very hot very quickly as we descended. By the way the Santa Fe region is known among other things for it's beautiful torquoise jewellery and there is heaps of it for big dollars ... as well as beautiful clothing ... again for big dollars and I have to confess I got myself a pretty large piece of torquoise today ... a sun hat to replace the one I lost. Not as much fun as a stunning piece of jewellery but will be more effective at keeping the sun off the face neck and ears. Ah well.
We headed for Los Alamos and the sights burst upon us. This is a rock called the Camel. I have to thank Ken for this one, I was busy fueling up and didn't see it until we were heading off.
And these are a collection of sights between Los Alamos and White Rock.
And a shot from the Overlook at White Rock of the Rio Grande. Reminded us all of many western movies we saw in our childhood.
Part of the Valle Grande, the description below is self explanatory.
A waterfall as we descended (have to look to see) doesn't do it justice.
South of Jemez State Monument and Jemez Springs, this is two shots (above and below) from the area called Las Casitas. There were so many spectacular sights but limited spots to pull over safely.
Awesome red cliffs as we head further south.
Back into Santa Fe and this is the entrance to a gallery.
Another gallery commemorating the Santa Fe Trail which runs through this area which is where eastern residents of early America peeled off the Oregon Trail and headed instead to the Californian goldfields.
Bits and Bobs:
Love all the overpass bridges we have come across in New Mexico, they all have some sort of Indian motifs on them. This one was on the way north out of Santa Fe.
And our coffee spot in Jemez Springs had this sign. Thought it was appropriate for Norm and Ken before their first coffee in the morning.
Happy to report we had another fine day as per the forecast and to quote the girl at the desk this morning when I said it looked like being another nice day she said "I hope so, I like the weather when it's 85 - 90F, this time last year it was 102F' Ouch! We had a great day checking out some Route 66 sites and just enjoying the changing landscape from open plains to low grassed scrubby valleys between great rocky cliffs and small rocky hills ... oh and some mountain peaks in the distance covered in snow as we started to head for Santa Fe. Apparently Denver where we arrive in a couple of days had a temperature of 30F today and snow a week or so ago so that could be interesting. Ah well, all part of the fun. Happy to say we posted off our parcels to home today. No peeking until we get there family! Oh by the way the speed limit for most of today and yesterday has been 121kmh so helps to cover the distance in a tidy fashion and mainly straight roads which is just as well as we are a bit preoccupied with the landscape. Quite a collection of photos today and for those of you who don't know Route 66 was known as the 'Mother Road of America' and despite the fact that lots of it is now blocked off and not maintained and by-passed, people have continued to enjoy it and in spite of many businesses perishing, many have soldiered on and continued the quirky and dare I say kitsch themes of decoration at times so here's a bit of a selection of some of what we saw today.
First stop Cadillac Ranch named because of the 10 cadillacs on end in this paddock a bit off the route. People are free to graffiti them which they do (discarding their cans when they finish in spite of a waste bin outside the property ... really!!) and the paint is so thick it's rippling all over but they'll probably never rust away other than where they are in the ground. Lucky we weren't here last week or the shot would have been from quite a distance given the mud still around in patches.
And we head into New Mexico.
We headed into Tucumcari and it was a feast of sights. Oh dear, typical of many we have seen, and lots of them along the streets and in front of shops. Love it.
The Blue Swallow Motel all painted up and quirky. They have garages beside their rooms and these are even painted inside and some examples are below.
For the grandchildren, this one, and the one below from the Cars movie which is based along Route 66.
And for all the Easyriders SMC Members especially those in Traralgon one depicting the original Easyriders. Ha ha.
A shot of a bygone era, the servo, and today, the wind turbine and the number of these we have seen is testimony to how windy it is through Texas and New Mexico but we have left Tornado Alley unscathed so I'm pleased about that.
I spotted this old servo which was in beautiful condition and thought it must still be trading ... and it was but not as a servo but a drive through smokes shop.
Some of the many street signs. Would love to see them all lit up at night.
Heading into Santa Rosa for lunch. Love that sky. We have enjoyed great big desert skies all day. Mmmmm.
Lunch at the Silver Moon Cafe ... is that an Inline 4 logo on the right hand side? Yes it is! Let me tell you their food would beat that at the Silver Moon anytime without even trying.
Hey Steve is this how your new trucks are being delivered? We have seen them all over the country and finally saw some stopped at the cafe where we had lunch.
And off to Santa Fe. I was starting to lose sight of the snow so thought I'd better stop and take a shot.
Our last stop for a cold drink and cool down and wander around the rows and rows of souvenirs at a huge roadhouse. This is the men's loo ... see told you things were quirky. By the way Norm took that photo in case you were wondering.
And in for the night in Santa Fe, adobe houses and buildings everywhere. We are going exploring tomorrow.
Last Night's Accommodation:
Holiday Inn Express & Suites Canyon, 2901 4th Avenue, Canyon, TX, 79015
Not a bad spot. Place is showing it's age a little but reasonable size room and bathroom and well set out. Complimentary continental breakfast and wifi and free onsite parking and a short stroll across the street for dinner.
Well we had a good day on the bikes today, strong wind but dry all day and temperature well managed from humid and comfortable to very humid and hot this afternoon. We traveled through some of Oklahoma and northern Texas and after the record breaking rain they have experienced in May I imagine we are seeing it at it's best with prolific grass growth and lots of wild flowers in between patches of silted up sand and areas still inundated with rain looking like lakes large and small in odd places. We struck out from the highway from Shamrock and traveled through some smaller lots of farmland / ranches which prior to the rain had prepared land for planting and it was a surreal look with the sand drifted up against the rows and snaking down any sloping valleys was what looked like a massive flat sand road from silt which extended out into drains on the side of the road and in places across. Been an awful lot of water rush through there.
The Route 66 Museum at Clinton OK supposedly the most historically accurate Museum, one of many I suspect.
And this is one of the first Oklahoma Highway Patrol Cars.
And then there was an Indian bike.
One of many servo graveyards along the old Route 66. This one also has a substantial truck graveyard around the perimeter. This was one of several in the one location. I needed a nap so we parked under one canopy and Norm took photos.
A work shot, a huge low loader with huge dolly (45m long all up) with a reel of steel pipe on it beside our coffee spot in Shamrock TX.
A 1930's CONOCO Servo and Cafe in Shamrock TX above and below. Norm is talking to a biker from Austria.
And then after we checked in we headed for the Palo Duro Canyon State Park known as the Grand Canyon of Texas and it was great to wind our way down into the canyon and ride right through it. A small collection of shots above and below.
Last Two Night's Accommodation:
Homewood Suites by Hilton, Oklahoma City, Bricktown, 328 Sheridan Avenue, OK 73103
A lovely spacious suite with kitchen and sitting area. Nice space to spread out in and also hang our washing out to dry out. Lovely comfortable bed again and handy to Bricktown an old warehouse area cleverly refurbished has become a destination in itself. Staff really friendly and helpful and not just doing a job. Always a treat to find.
We have had a lovely kick back day wandering along the canal system in Bricktown which is the area our hotel is in. It is the old warehouse district which now has a baseball stadium and masses of hotel and apartment accommodation and eateries saloons and bars. We were the only ones out this morning as everyone was sleeping off whatever they had been up to last night and it was nice and peaceful. We headed into the theater to see 'San Andreas' and when we came out a lot of people had woken up and headed out so we got a quick bite for lunch and headed for the Oklahoma City National Memorial, the Memorial to the Oklahoma bombing in 2005. It was a very beautiful, peaceful and meaningful memorial as well as very confronting. Cannot believe it is the 20th anniversary of the bombing this year. From there we headed to the Oklahoma Museum of Art mainly to see a glass sculpture in the foyer by Dale Chihuly, it was huge and I suspect he is also the artist responsible for a piece we saw in Montreal a couple of years ago. We have kicked back in the hotel for a bit and will head out for dinner soon. The weather has been fine today, humid but rain free and apparently the record breaking rains through Texas and Oklahoma have moved further east and there are not as many tornado warnings about today so we will see what tomorrow brings. So different to what we have at home. We aren't in our room for long and the only channel we put the TV on is the weather channel so we can track what we are likely to encounter re topography and storm damage and upcoming weather. All part of taking care of the logistics of the trip.
The start of the old warehouse area. There was a list of rules for the Coyote Ugly bar at the door. Ha ha, I remember the movie.
And apparently Norm has a bar along the canal though he says no one would believe it's him because this guy doesn't wear a black leather cap ... no mention of the cigar. Hmm.
A shot of the canal which meandered through a large area it was lovely and when the canal boat man is there, not when we were, you can go on a ride along the canal and hop on and off .
One end of the canal complete with water pourers.
And we discovered some lovely gardens complete with a conservatory and zebra striped butterflies which didn't stay still long enough for me to get a photo.
And a very clever fountain. If I get Norm's video onto You Tube I'll put the link here at some time in the future.
Devon Towers from the gardens. Devon is a power company and the building is quite a statement. That's the conservatory on the right.
Some reflections on our way to the Memorial.
Oklahoma City National Memorial to the 2005 Bombing. This is a view from above across the empty chairs which signify people killed and in the densities of how many at what level in the 9 story building which once stood. It was both beautiful and sobering but a fitting tribute. Glad we came.
The reflection pool at the Memorial.
And the Survivor Tree which was once in the car park of the building blown up and survived the blast in spite of looking like a burnt stick at the end of the blast. The stone wall around it says "The Spirit of this City and Nation will not be defeated; Our deeply rooted faith sustains us".
And part of the glass sculpture in the foyer of the Oklahoma City Art Museum, couldn't fit it all in.
We headed off in doubtful weather which deteriorated to rain on and off so the waterproofs were on all day in spite of the humidity. It was nice to see sun this afternoon but by then I felt very cold. The ride was long but some delicious bike roads with lovely corners and camber. Shame it was so wet. We found a quirky little town called Eureka Springs which was a bit like an upmarket / substantial version of Walhalla with a through road. We assume with the title it has to have been some sort of mining area and given the buildings (in the middle of nowhere supports that ... as well as the rail line into it) It was quirky and delightful but was wet and we had heaps of ground to cover so while I took a shot at the railway on the outskirts while we checked the GPS we didn't stop in the town. After that we saw prolific forest growth and farms with incredible growth as well as a lot of land which had been and continues to be inundated with flood waters. A Turnpike attendant told us the farmers wanted dry weather to get their hay cut but there was water everywhere after all the dumping of rain with the surrounding tornado and would be tornado weather there has been through Oklahoma over the last couple of weeks. We had seen many fields with very long grass which had been laid down with the rain. Doubt it will stand again but I hope it does.
A shot of the Branson Scenic Railway Dining Train in the station due to depart tonight.
The Eureka Springs Railway Historic Park. Looked pretty overgrown but we had to move to let a trolley car of people into the spot we had parked so who knows?
We stopped in Muskogee to find a historic home and in theory found it ... or the ticket office / house which was closed even though in theory it was supposed to be open. Looked pretty ordinary so didn't waste a photo on it but instead took a couple of shots of some of the nice homes in the area and this is one of them.
When we booked into our hotel after negotiating a detour just before our hotel we discovered there is a National College Softball championship happening across the street. This is the stadium when we booked in but has filled up since and they are playing. Apparently last night they had a fireworks display around 10.30 - 11pm but we plan to be sound asleep by then!
Last Two Night's Accommodation:
Hilton Promenade at Branson Landing, 3 Branson Landing, Branson, MO 65616
Another lovely comfortable hotel. Spacious room and bathroom with separate bath and shower. Plenty of room to chill in lobby if you want to and a bar and grille on site. Breakfast provided ... at the Hilton hotel across the railway line?? A bit weird. No mention of that when we booked just that breakfast was available. In the centre of Branson Landing shopping and entertainment precinct. Undercover parking. As we discovered on our exit the old Branson is a mixed bag of fruit and we liked the Branson Landing side of things better.
We headed off in good time and it wasn't long before we were wet through. We had planned to kit up with the wet weather gear after we fueled up but were distracted with GPS issues and not far out the skies opened up. We stopped under the first overpass to kit up but were already wet through by then. Oh well, you get that sometimes ... and today we did. Not to worry, the traffic wasn't as hectic as the last time we were out so tolerable. We had planned to check out the Marvel Cave on our way in (Missouri is known as the Cave state with huge areas of limestone) but with the sky as black as it was we decided to head for the hotel and take our chances. Just as well. The skies opened up a few minutes before we got in and as it turned out we got in too late to get to the last tour of the cave. We then decided to go to the Dixie Stampede, a stage show of great country hits but that was sold out so instead we kicked back and wandered along the foot malls behind the hotel which were very nice and then had dinner at a nice Mexican Restaurant. The heavy rain has continued on and off with a tornado warning to our north west. Hoping for more comfortable traveling weather tomorrow.
By the way I forgot to let Jenny's children know that we saw Optimus Prime (of Transformers fame) as we were heading into St Louis the day before yesterday. He was at a truck sale yard doing some sort of promotion and he looked awesome. Sorry, we were going too fast to get a photo.
A taste of Route 66 outside and below inside at Exit 161.
Limestone country and the lush growth everywhere is not surprising, also the fact that Missouri is known as the Cave State.
Once we were into Branson we headed out to the walking street at the back of the hotel. It was very nice and the boys did the husband waiting thing very well.
A shot for the boys, a calendar in the 5 and dime store.
And a quirky shooting gallery we found opposite our Mexican Restaurant. Reminiscent of the talking characters of the Cars movie.
We walked down to the edge of the river and were intrigued by the mist rising off it after the rain.
And then while we had dinner lights highlighted the fountain effect so looked good.
Bits and Bobs:
A couple of interesting raffle prizes organised by BADD - Bikers Against Drunk Drivers, an organisation which was formed around 20 plus years ago and they have been raffling awesome machinery off for the last seven years to fund their charitable works. Well done guys. Their website link follows: http://baddcentral.com/
Last Two Night's Accommodation:
St Louis Union Station Doubletree by Hilton, 1820 Market Street, 1 Union Station, St Louis, MO 63103
It's been a treat to stay here. The lobby and restaurant is within the beautiful old station building which is an architectural delight. Our room was one of a huge number spread out from the station along platforms where the trains used to reverse into the station to take on passengers. The whole complex is awesome. We were in a King Executive room with Concierge lounge access which was lovely with evening appetizers and a delicious breakfast included. Have just loved the enthusiasim and friendliness of the staff and fallen in love with the building which was just beautiful and being refurbished with great care and passion, In the starbucks cafe a natural spring drinking fountain has been uncovered and also a magnificent fireplace. I imagine there are many more treasures still to be found. This is part of a long term project where the shopping concourse will be extended down the platforms and trains will also return to take diners out and people to wineries as well as other destinations. Awesome. Well done!
We decided to sleep in this morning and didn't head down to breakfast until 8.30 ... I know not much of a sleep in but places to go and things to see. Tom and Karen Stein who we dined with last night had given us some tips on some of the great sights we could see so headed off down Market Street to climb the famous St Louis Arch which is an architectural and engineering masterpiece and enjoyed all the lovely public buildings we encountered on the way. We bought our tickets at the Old Court House, did the Arch tour and saw the documentary of it being built which was incredible then headed for the Trolley Bus tour and were grateful to sit down for a bit as well as a chance to tour a lot of the town we wouldn't have otherwise seen and enjoyed traveling through. We waved out to Tom on our way past the Washington State University where he works. Currently planning the direction we need to head tomorrow to head down Route 66.
The Old Court House where we bought our tickets which was a beautiful building still dressed up in bunting from the Memorial Weekend.
And the Arch itself. We had a 4min. ride to the top and a view through the windows then a 3min. ride down before the documentary. The work being undertaken is to streamline visitor interaction and people and traffic flows as visitor numbers are larger than anticipated being between 5,600 - 5,800 a day through the summer.
A view back over the town from the top of the Arch.
A shot of the Arch behind the Old Court House.
A shot in front of the Museum of Art in the Forest Garden park as the rain approached.
And a mobile shot of the New Cathedral which is old but just not as old as the original.
We got away in good time today and looked like we would be seriously rained upon in a couple of spots but got in dry. Yay! We are in a very nice and quirky hotel tonight and also caught up with some USA travellers we met in 2013 for dinner so ran out of time to upload the blog before we headed out.
Oh oh, can we make it out from under before it drops it's guts? Yes barely and not wet enough to worry about. YAY!!
Coffee stop ay Whitehaven and this is their Welcome centre.
Some great memories with these road signs.
And Norm's GPS stopped working so 'my assignment if I chose to accept it was to lead us into St Louis' and I did quite well. You can see the famous arch to the right as well as some of the skyline.
And almost there, even got the indicator on and yes we are staying in a train station, an awesome building and again the famous arch is visible in the distance.
And the main lobby. Has a great bar and heaps of spots to sit and lean back and watch the light show on the ceiling. Okay there are more comfortable chairs in the lounge area beyond these ones.
Bits and Bobs:
A couple of road signs for you. The first has been quite common in most states with similar wording meaning you slow down or pull over for all stopped vehicles on the side of the road. It's also interesting to note that a lot of roadworks don't have reduced speed limits but have a sign which says speed panalties double in work zones and another, a reduced speed limit if workers present, and then there's the one below which really says to take things seriously. (Taken from a reasonable distance, sorry it's so fuzzy).
Last Two Night's Accommodation:
Renaissance Nashville Hotel, 611 Commerce Street, Nashville, TN 37203
The hotel has been a lovely experience. Lovely roomy space in the room, generous bathroom and gloriously comfortable bed. 22nd floor so a great view which was lovely as well. Restaurant and bar, a Starbucks with great cakes (Norm sampled them) and all the staff are friendly and helpful and pleased to be here. Nice mix. Well done Marriott.