Mountains, Canyons, and Mesas

These are some quick notes from our recent trip to Colorado.

Day 1, Saturday, October 21, 2017

We left home at midnight and drove to Detroit International Airport. This got us to the airport in time to check in and be ready to leave by 6:30A. We had an uneventful flight on SouthWest and arriv

ed in Denver at around 8:30A their time. We then took a train to the main terminal in order to catch a shuttle to our rental car. We had a mid-size SUV and started working our way to Grand Junction. The drive got interesting when we went into the mountains. The

re we found that it was snowing and the roads, at times, were covered with snow and ice. It was strange to be traveling through a winter wonderland in October. Thankfully, the snow cleared once we were out of the mountains. We continued on through some stunning scenery of canyons, mountains, and mesas.

We arrived in Grand Junction at around 1:30P. It was too early to check in to our motel so we grabbed a sit down lunch at Chik Fil A and then went to WalMart to purchase our groceries for the week. This included a small cook stove and fuel from the camping section so we could heat up food for picnics on our day trips.

We stayed at a Candlewood Suite in Grand Junction. The room included a kitchen with a stovetop, microwave, sink, and refrigerator. It also had pots and skillets for cooking food. We unloaded all of our supplies and enjoyed some rest and relaxation after a full day of travel.

Day 2, Sunday, October 22, 2017

Today we decided to check out a National Park that was only 20 minutes from our hotel, Colorado National Monument. We entered from the North side of the park. This park is on Monument Mesa. We stopped at the visitor center and talked with a park ranger who shared some good spots to hike and also shared other places we might want to visit over the coming days. He highlighted Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, and a road that we should travel along a river, 128.

We stopped at many scenic views in the park and then had a picnic lunch at the Devils Kitchen Picnic area. We enjoyed heating up soup and seeing amazing views from our picnic table. We then hiked the Devils Kitchen trail which brought us into a rock area that had amazing views of the area. Thankfully, the weather was in the 60’s with full sun which was perfect for hiking.

We ended the day by checking out the local mall, Mesa Mall, and then resting in our room at the motel.

Day 3, Monday, October 23, 2017

Today we went to Arches National Park in Utah. Before heading out, we decided to get so fresh crusty bread from a local bakery called Main Street Bagels, 559 Main St., Grand Junction, CO 81501 We purchased a few baked goods along with a fresh loaf of ciabatta that we could use with our lunches. We then headed out for our day.

We arrived in Arches National Park and stopped at the visitor center. We took some time to watch a video about the park and how the arches were formed before checking with a ranger about recommended hiking destinations. We then went on our way to stop at “The Windows Section” where we walked to the Double Arch. We then traveled to an area known as the Delicate arch. From there we stopped at the Fire Furnace, and then ended at the Devils Garden Trailhead where we saw the Landscape Arch. All of these arches were amazing and we were filled with awe at the size of the arches and rocks that surrounded us. It is hard to capture the scale with photos.

Arches National Park, overall, was pretty busy. We couldn’t imagine how busy it might be in other seasons. Many of the parking areas were close to full.

After Arches, we took a quick drive into Moab. In Moab we stopped at an outdoors shop where I picked up a chalk bag for climbing and bouldering. We then found a local coffee shop and filled up with gas. Then we started heading back to Grand Junction. We took a different route by following a road, 128, that goes along a river and through a canyon. This road was recommended by the park ranger at Colorado Monument Park. It was a stunning ride and we are so glad we took that route back to I-70.

Day 4, Tuesday, October 24, 2017

This day was our longest day of driving. Neither of us had memories of seeing the Great Salt Lake in Salt Lake City, Utah. So, we decided to drive there. This journey took us through Provo and Salt Lake City Utah before getting to Antelope Island. This Island is located in the Great Salt Lake. You can get to the island by driving a causeway. Our research showed this as being one of the best ways to see the lake. Once we arrived on the island, we found a picnic area and enjoyed another wonderful lunch with amazing views of the lake and surrounding mountains. As we ate, thundering fighter jets would fly by from the area Air Force base.

After lunch, we stopped at a beach location where we could walk all the way out to the water. The sand was crusty and filled with thin slivers of sandstone which made the walk rather challenging. Once at the waters edge, it was quite peaceful. we then went to a few more viewing locations before working our way off the island. Along the way we saw one of the Bison from a heard that lives on the island.

The trip out of Salt Lake City was challenging because of all of the traffic we encountered because it was around rush hour. Once past Provo and back on the back country highway roads, all was good. Once back on I-70, it was dark. We found a rest area and stopped for a moment to see all of the stars. With so little light pollution, we were able to see the Milky Way and so much more. It was a glorious sight.

Day 5, Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Today we decided to stay around the Grand Junction area since we had done so much driving the day before. We took some time to walk the downtown of Grand Junction. We walked through a tea shop and a few outdoor goods shops before returning to Main Street Bagels. We had such a good experience there before that we decided to stop for lunch. The lunch service was really slow this particular day but we still enjoyed the time together and the food.

We then headed out of Grand Junction and found a bouldering spot along Monument Road. This spot is across the street from a major mountain bike trail system. Bouldering is where you climb low enough to the ground that you don’t need any particular climbing gear. After climbing on a few boulders, we drove into the Colorado National Monument from the South entrance. It was amazing to drive the same route we did earlier in the week from a different direction. It felt like we saw entirely new sites. Along the way we took time to drive a few back roads onto the Mesa before completing our tour of the National Park. It was such a gift to have this park so close to our motel.

Day 6, Thursday, October 26, 2017

Today we traveled to Canyonlands National Park in Utah. This was a trip that followed almost the same route we took to get to Arches National Park. Once again, once we reached the park we stopped at the visitor center. The park ranger shared some spots she loved. You could tell that she loved the park. When we asked about a picnic location, she just said to find a rock someplace and enjoy our lunch. We followed her suggestions and went to Mesa Arch, Upheaval Dome (hiked a trail to the First Overlook), Green River Overlook, Grand View Point Overlook, and White Rim Overlook. White Rim Overlook had an assortment of private picnic tables. Once again, we had a wonderful lunch in the sunshine outside with some stunning views. We then headed back to our motel so we could pack up our stuff in preparation for heading back to Denver. We also took some time to track down a Drury Inn that we could stay in the next day.

Day 7, Friday, October 27, 2017

It is hard to believe that we need to leave Grand Junction today. It has become our home away from home. We chose to make breakfast in our room, pack up, and head out. We stopped at Starbucks and then headed out on I-70. We hoped to go through Rocky Mountain National Park on the way home but found that the road in the park was closed. So we, took back roads where we drove dirt and paved roads through mountains and valleys. They ultimately took us through Winter Park and back to I-70. It was worth it in order to get off of the expressway and experience the back-country beauty of Colorado. We ended up at the Stapleton Drury Inn between Denver and the Denver International Airport. We arrived early enough to have time to relax and enjoy the Drury Inn 5:30P kick-back time. Our room at the Drury Inn overlooked Denver and the Rocky Mountains. It was a perfect location to end our time in Colorado.

Day 8, Saturday, October 28, 2017

Today we were able to have a nice hot breakfast at Drury Inn at 7A. We then drove approximately 20 minutes to the airport, returned our rental car, rode the shuttle to the airport, checked in, went through TSA, and found our gate in terminal C. We had a great seat at the end of the terminal where we could see the Rocky Mountains in the distance. Once again, SouthWest was on time and we had a wonderful flight back to Detroit and had an uneventful drive home. We give thanks for the opportunity to celebrate our 25th anniversary by having such a wonderful time together as a couple and as best friends.