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Author Topic: Westward Ho!  (Read 5152 times)

jagnweiner

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Westward Ho!
« on: June 05, 2013, 08:18:29 AM »
Subtitle:  "We're the only ones not going to Alaska!"

I decided to take a stab at a journal documenting the Johnson family's first-ever big RV trip to CO and UT.  Current plan is to leave mid-morning on Saturday, 6/8/13.  The kids have the cross-country team's summer weekend retreat.  We already had the trip planned and reservations made, so we told them they could go spend the night Friday night, but we would pick them up Saturday morning and hit the road.

Day -3, 6/5, homebase of Geneseo, IL:  I have spent much of my free time over the last several weeks trying to get the 13 year old RV ready for a long journey.  These include:  getting the daughter's Honda Accord ready for towing (works great), re-attaching one of the lower fiberglass panels that had separated from its framework, doing the Zep treatment to restore the oxidized fiberglass sidewalls (can't have the campground neighbors thinking Cousin Eddie has come to visit), installing ScanGuage D (so I know just how poor my fuel mileage is), sanitize the water system, replace window coverings, etc.  Of course I saved the most time consuming project for last, removing old caulk and re-caulking the fiberglass roof edge.  After a couple of evenings' work, I'm down to the last 15 feet.  The only other remaining tasks are to finally bolt down the recliner in the living room and test the toad braking system.  Oh, and of course, pack!  :)

Meanwhile, the DW is concerned that the neighbors will get sick of me parking the MH in front of the house every evening.  "You're not going to bring that thing over here every day this week, are you?"  "Uh, no, I probably won't bring it over on Monday, so that's only five days this week."
« Last Edit: June 05, 2013, 10:48:49 AM by jagnweiner »
-Scott
2000 Itasca Horizon 36LD

therealsimpsons

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Re: Westward Ho!
« Reply #1 on: June 05, 2013, 09:46:44 AM »
I can't wait to read more! Safe and fun travels!
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dverstra

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Re: Westward Ho!
« Reply #2 on: June 05, 2013, 06:32:22 PM »
That makes two of us that are not going to Alaska this summer! I have to work this month...dang!
2007 Holiday Rambler Navigator
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Grandville, MI
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jagnweiner

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Re: Westward Ho!
« Reply #3 on: June 08, 2013, 10:40:15 AM »
Getting close to hitting the road. It will probably be at least noon, as the DW had to pick up the kids from an overnight running retreat about 90 mi away this morning. Preparations went well and I eventually finished all the tasks I needed to do. One caveat for other travelers, don't wait until the night before your 2500 mi trip to try to install your toad braking system. I did, and was starting to think last night that I wouldn't be able to get it done, but a good nights sleep and some additional thought helped me knock it t quickly this morning.

Meanwhile, I just got a text from my DD on her way home from the running event:  "Can we shower in the RV while we are driving?"  "Uh, no, but I'll let you take a shower before we hit the road." ;D

Here's a pic of the land yacht awaiting the return of its extra passengers.
-Scott
2000 Itasca Horizon 36LD

Wendy

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Re: Westward Ho!
« Reply #4 on: June 08, 2013, 10:50:11 AM »
You're headed to some beautiful country. Looking forward to hearing about the trip. BTW, we're not going to Alaska either, but we are going to Wyoming :)


Wendy
Cortez CO
Wendy, Mike, and Gordon
~We can't be lost because we don't care where we're going~
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jagnweiner

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Re: Westward Ho!
« Reply #5 on: June 08, 2013, 11:27:08 AM »
. BTW, we're not going to Alaska either, but we are going to Wyoming :)


Wendy
Cortez CO

Close enough.   :)
-Scott
2000 Itasca Horizon 36LD

jagnweiner

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Re: Westward Ho!
« Reply #6 on: June 10, 2013, 02:15:41 PM »
The vacationing has begun!  After a couple of grueling 10'hr driving days with an overnight at the Walmart in Kearney NE, and challenging but successful trip through the mountains on I70, we arrived at Rifle Gap SP on Sunday. Got a really nice FHU site in this beautiful state park.

Today we made the hike up to Hanging Lake, which is amazingly beautiful.  Pics later. Whitewater rafting tomorrow then on to Utah Wednesday.

I don't think I'll be able to keep up the journal as we go along, but I'll try to do a detailed one when we get home.
-Scott
2000 Itasca Horizon 36LD

Wendy

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Re: Westward Ho!
« Reply #7 on: June 10, 2013, 03:19:19 PM »
I see in Colorado just in time for our record breaking high temperatures. Welcome !


Wendy
SW Colorado
Wendy, Mike, and Gordon
~We can't be lost because we don't care where we're going~
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jagnweiner

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Re: Westward Ho!
« Reply #8 on: June 11, 2013, 07:38:56 AM »
Thanks, Wendy. I feel the warmth of your welcome.  ;).  So far we haven't noticed the heat to much.  We climbed to Hanging Lake while the trail was still in the shade and back down by noon. Ran errands in the afternoon so we stayed out of the heat and it cooled off nice in the evening.

Here's a pic of the campsite at Rifle Gap this morning:
-Scott
2000 Itasca Horizon 36LD

Wendy

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Re: Westward Ho!
« Reply #9 on: June 11, 2013, 10:09:44 AM »
Nice spot. Never been there, may have to try it out some day. Good weather news is that it's supposed to cool off to 93 here today AND we're not on the front range where it's supposed to be hotter.
Wendy, Mike, and Gordon
~We can't be lost because we don't care where we're going~
Here's where we are http://map.datastormusers.com/user2.cfm?user=2276
2015 Allegro Ooen Road
1973 Sunshine Yellow VW Bug

jagnweiner

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Re: Westward Ho!
« Reply #10 on: June 11, 2013, 04:57:49 PM »
I would recommend going during the week. I think it gets pretty crowded with boaters.
-Scott
2000 Itasca Horizon 36LD

Wendy

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Re: Westward Ho!
« Reply #11 on: June 14, 2013, 08:34:06 PM »
I see there's a new fire burning up your way, if you're still at Rifle Gap. Hope they get this one contained quick.
Wendy, Mike, and Gordon
~We can't be lost because we don't care where we're going~
Here's where we are http://map.datastormusers.com/user2.cfm?user=2276
2015 Allegro Ooen Road
1973 Sunshine Yellow VW Bug

jagnweiner

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Re: Westward Ho!
« Reply #12 on: June 15, 2013, 05:56:49 PM »
I see there's a new fire burning up your way, if you're still at Rifle Gap. Hope they get this one contained quick.

Hmm, didn't see it while we were there and I'm afraid we've been out of touch with the news.

Since then, we've been to Deadhorse Point/Arches, a nice stopover at Goblin Valley, and now staying at Kodachrome Basin to visit Bryce. (Currently using Rubys Inn wifi :))

I promise a full journal when we get back home. Trip has been wonderful.
-Scott
2000 Itasca Horizon 36LD

Wendy

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Re: Westward Ho!
« Reply #13 on: June 15, 2013, 06:22:51 PM »
Nice country you're visiting. Glad you left before the latest fire.
Wendy, Mike, and Gordon
~We can't be lost because we don't care where we're going~
Here's where we are http://map.datastormusers.com/user2.cfm?user=2276
2015 Allegro Ooen Road
1973 Sunshine Yellow VW Bug

therealsimpsons

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Re: Westward Ho!
« Reply #14 on: June 15, 2013, 10:59:27 PM »
I have to ask. Did you take UT 12 to Bryce from Torrey?

Stan
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jagnweiner

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Re: Westward Ho!
« Reply #15 on: June 17, 2013, 05:06:02 PM »
I have to ask. Did you take UT 12 to Bryce from Torrey?

Stan

We did. The DW tells me it was very pretty and some day I'll look at the pictures. I, however, was watching the road and refused to look over the edge. I thought about pulling over for a short break a few times, but was afraid I would freeze up and not be able to drive again.  :)
-Scott
2000 Itasca Horizon 36LD

jagnweiner

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Re: Westward Ho!
« Reply #16 on: June 22, 2013, 02:53:51 PM »
Ok, after 3200 miles and 14 days on the road, we are back at home, sweet home! :)  I will now begin the official journal. I'll try to make an observation or two each day as well.

Day 1, Saturday 6/8, Geneseo, IL to Kearney, NE, 511 mi.

We are underway on our first big RV trip!  Headed west on I80. Nothing too exciting and no photos to share. Due to the late start, we stopped at the Kearney, NE Walmart around 1030 pm.  I wouldn't really recommend it for the interstate traveler, as it is about 5 mi north of 80. There is plenty of room to park, however, and there was one other RVer there with us.

Daily Observation #1:  I knew I had made the right decision to get the RV about 60 miles into the trip when, while rolling down the road, the DW asked me if I wanted her to go back and make me a sandwich. Nothing tastes quite as good as a roast beef sandwich made in your rolling kitchen from supplies taken out of your rolling refrigerator.  :D

Daily Observation #2:  The favorite recreational activity of the youth of Kearney NE seems to be drag racing. In the Walmart parking lot. Honestly. At least that's what it sounded like from my bed. Btw, if you are interested in attending the Kearney drags, prelims start at 1130 pm, with elimination rounds beginning promptly at midnight.

All in all, a successful first day of travel.

-Scott
2000 Itasca Horizon 36LD

BinaryBob

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Re: Westward Ho!
« Reply #17 on: June 22, 2013, 10:41:20 PM »
Sounds wonderful!
Keep the journal coming!
2004 Itasca Suncruiser 37B

"Every hobby perpetuates its arcane mysteries. How else would we impress the newbies with our superior knowledge?"
--Gary RV Roamer--

therealsimpsons

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Re: Westward Ho!
« Reply #18 on: June 23, 2013, 11:15:28 PM »
Great report, Scott. Last year, Becky went back to get me a drink while we were rolling, I had to stop quicker than usual, and she stumbled, broke her foot, its just now healing.

Next time, if you are a Passport America member, there is a PA park a few miles west of Kearney in Elm Green, $15.00, pull through, full hook ups. No drag racers. Nothing fancy, just a big parking lot, but 1/4 mile off I-80.
05 Beaver Monterey Laguna IV
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jagnweiner

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Re: Westward Ho!
« Reply #19 on: June 24, 2013, 10:46:47 AM »
Great report, Scott. Last year, Becky went back to get me a drink while we were rolling, I had to stop quicker than usual, and she stumbled, broke her foot, its just now healing.

Next time, if you are a Passport America member, there is a PA park a few miles west of Kearney in Elm Green, $15.00, pull through, full hook ups. No drag racers. Nothing fancy, just a big parking lot, but 1/4 mile off I-80.

Ouch!  Thanks for the tip.  I hadn't realized that the Walmart was all the way on the north side of town, but it was after ten when we got to Kearney so I just kept driving until we finally found it.
-Scott
2000 Itasca Horizon 36LD

jagnweiner

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Re: Westward Ho!
« Reply #20 on: June 24, 2013, 11:30:05 AM »
Sorry for the delay in plugging in the journal; I'll try to get a few entries done each day now.

Day 2, Sunday 6/9, Kearney, NE to Rifle Gap SP, north of Rifle CO, 545 miles

We got a nice early start and were out of the Walmart parking lot by 0700, with a good night's sleep, once the drag racers settled down.  By and large, smooth sailing through Nebraska and eastern CO.  I will note that the condition of I-80 and I-76 is variable.  In many stretches, the pavement is buttery smooth, in others it just about shakes one's fillings out.

The adventure started when we got to Denver and then headed up into the mountains.  Shortly after we began, I got a signal from the monitor for my toad brake that the battery voltage was low and it was shutting itself off.  I stopped and let the toad engine run for a while to charge itself back up.  I had been trying to stop to do so every 3-4 hours, but it had been a while and I don't think I was letting it run long enough to get much of a charge.  That process done, we started climbing again. 

I then began to notice my coolant temperature rising.  I had my ScanGuage set up to display the actual coolant temp, so I could see that it had risen from its normal happy 190F up to around 215F and seemed to still be climbing.  I remembered what I had learned from other forum members in another conversation I started about mountain driving and manually downshifted (upshifted?) to 4th so the RPMs would stay around 2200-2300.  This helped cool things back down, although it stayed around 205F while climbing hard.  Other than that, mountain driving went well.  There was a lot of construction coming down through Glenwood Canyon, with one-lane road most of the way.

We arrived at Rifle Gap SP in the mid-late afternoon.  I had reserved (six months out) a site right on the lake.  It was electric-only, but I thought it would be nice to be right on the lake.  When we arrived to check-in, I told the ranger the site # and she said, "Oh, our records show that you aren't coming in until tomorrow and that site is already taken."  I showed her my printed reservation and she determined that the park had accidentally double-booked it for the night.  She said we could either take another neighboring site for the night and then move, or we could kick the current occupants out (with the help of staff).  I didn't want to do that, so I was prepared to take another site.  After I had gone back out to unhitch the toad and proceed to the new site, another, more experienced ranger came over and offered to take us up and show us some sites in the new, full hook-up section up the hill aways from the lake.  Although I had specifically reserved the site because it was right on the lake, we decided to take one of the FHU sites because (1) FHU might be nice (I'd never been in an FHU site before), and (2) the lake level had dropped substantially from what I had seen in the pictures of the site I reserved and the "lakeside" site was now over 50 feet away from the water.  We ended up with a great site.  Campsite photo already posted.

Observation of the Day:  IMHO, I-70 through Glenwood Canyon has to be one of the most beautiful stretches of interstate highway in the country.  There may be more beautiful interstates, but I haven't driven them yet.  It is also an impressive feat of civil engineering to cram an interstate, a river and a rail line all through such a narrow canyon.
   
EDIT:  Added some photos of the drive and of Rifle Gap, including the first time I've ever actually seen a runaway truck on the runaway truck ramp. Sorry for the bugs on the windshield.
« Last Edit: June 24, 2013, 09:28:08 PM by jagnweiner »
-Scott
2000 Itasca Horizon 36LD

Wendy

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Re: Westward Ho!
« Reply #21 on: June 24, 2013, 11:34:15 AM »
And you didn't even have to pay for the drag races ! Love the daily observations, will need to add to my daily journaling.
Wendy, Mike, and Gordon
~We can't be lost because we don't care where we're going~
Here's where we are http://map.datastormusers.com/user2.cfm?user=2276
2015 Allegro Ooen Road
1973 Sunshine Yellow VW Bug

jagnweiner

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Re: Westward Ho!
« Reply #22 on: June 24, 2013, 12:34:06 PM »
And you didn't even have to pay for the drag races ! Love the daily observations, will need to add to my daily journaling.

I hope I can remember enough of them to have one for each day.   :)  I kept thinking of little "observations" to share, but I wasn't writing anything down and am mostly reconstructing the days from memory (although each was memorable in its own way so it's not too hard).
-Scott
2000 Itasca Horizon 36LD

jagnweiner

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Re: Westward Ho!
« Reply #23 on: June 24, 2013, 03:38:35 PM »
Day 3, Monday 6/10, Rifle Gap SP, 0 miles in RV, 70ish miles in the toad.

Our first real day of vacation.   :)  The primary event of the day was a trip partway back up Glenwood Canyon to take the hike up to Hanging Lake.  I wanted to try to get there relatively early because I knew that (1) the climb would be less fun as it got hotter, and (2) I knew the parking lot can fill up on a busy day.  On point #2, when we drove through the canyon the previous afternoon, the electronic signs on I-70 indicated that Hanging Lake parking was full.  Therefore, we tried to get an early start, but it was probably at least 0845 before we left the campsite.  Rather than drive back south to Rifle and then get on I-70, we took the scenic "shortcut"  out the back way from the park.  It was a fun drive through interesting ranch land.  Cut off several miles, but probably didn't save any time.  When we arrived at the Hanging Lake trailhead, we had no trouble finding a place to park and actually found a nice spot in the shade.

You begin the hike by walking 1/4 mile or so up the paved bike trail that runs through the canyon, reaching the old trailhead.  Then you start the real climb.  Before the trip, I had read up a little bit about the hike, but I will admit that I didn't pay much attention to how long it was or how truly steep it was.  To a flatlander like myself who has spent most of his life at 600' above sea level, the climb from about 6000' to 7000' turned out to be a bit daunting.  Basically, it is a non-stop climb.  The decision to come in the morning proved to be wise, as we were in in the shade pretty much the whole way up.

As I was huffing and puffing my way up hill, while my three kids frolicked on ahead and my wife waited patiently for me, I had a couple things that kept me going.  First, I knew the lake itself would be beautiful, and second, I saw several people who looked  to be in much worse shape than me making the trip back down.  I am 20-30 pounds overweight; some of these folks who had completed the hike were easily 100 lbs overweight and appeared to have made the climb with no problem.  Also, someone making the trip back down explained to me that the total length of the climbing portion (not counting the bike path) is about 1 1/8 miles, there are mile markers each 1/4 mile, and you cross the small creek running along the trail seven times on bridges so once you reach the seventh bridge you're close.

Once we finally reached the top, the lake was breathtaking.  In looking at it in pictures, I had envisioned it to be a bit bigger than it really was, but no matter.  It was still stunningly beautiful.  The water is clear blue/green and we saw quite a few fish (trout?) living their lives in this tiny pond on the side of a mountain (where fishing is prohibited).  I will try to attach some photos later tonight after I transfer them off my wife's iPad.

We lingered at the lake for 20 minutes or so, then got back on the path down.  When we started the climb up, someone at the trailhead told us to make sure we took the side trail up to Spouting Rock.  His advice was wise.  A little bit back along the path down from the lake is a turn-off to go to Spouting Rock.  This involves another climb of about 1/8 mile up above the level of Hanging Lake.  I'll admit, I didn't really feel like more climbing, but I'm glad we did.  Spouting Rock is where water essentially comes out of the side of the mountain, forms a little stream and then goes over a waterfall into Hanging Lake.  It was very pretty and peaceful.  I don't think many people make the extra side trip, even though it is short, because it was not nearly as crowded as the lake itself.

Then we started the trip back down.  By then the sun was up over the east wall of the canyon so it was starting to get hot.  The trail was also getting even more crowded.  I was amazed at a few things:  (1) lots of people were making the climb with no water whatsoever, which seemed crazy to me; (2) lots of people were making the climb with tiny babies strapped to their chest, which seemed even crazier; and (3) many folks were taking toddlers aged 2-4 on the climb, either by dragging the kids along by the hand or carrying them on shoulders (the craziest!)  On the way down, the kids and the DW were a little frustrated with me because I kept stopping to talk to people on the way up to give them encouragement.  There was one lady that I gave the same detailed explanation that was given to me about exactly what to expect, the seven bridges, etc.  She was very grateful and reassured, but frankly, I was worried about her continuing the climb.  She didn't have any water, she was very overweight, and during the few minutes that she was stopped talking to me she was breathing hard and couldn't catch her breath.  I probably should have suggested she not continue, because she still had at least a 1/2 mile to climb.  I can only assume she made it or decided on her own to turn around.

The kids were starving (so was I) when we reached the car.  We had packed sandwiches, but we promised them the sandwiches would just tide them over until we reached the Glenwood Springs McDonalds.  We hit the McDs for a "second lunch" and some wifi and then went back to Rifle Gap to relax for the rest of the afternoon.  It was there that my son discovered the ubiquitous lizards of the soutwest that would help keep him entertained for the rest of the trip.

All in all, a great day.

Observation of the Day:  I have heard from some people that climbing down a mountain is just as hard as climbing up.  They are wrong.  OK, I agree that walking down a steep hill is difficult, and may be very difficult if you have bad knees or some other condition, but based on my experience, going down is still MUCH easier than climbing up.
« Last Edit: June 24, 2013, 09:54:23 PM by jagnweiner »
-Scott
2000 Itasca Horizon 36LD

jagnweiner

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Re: Westward Ho!
« Reply #24 on: June 24, 2013, 10:06:04 PM »
Just added some photos to previous days.
-Scott
2000 Itasca Horizon 36LD

BinaryBob

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Re: Westward Ho!
« Reply #25 on: June 24, 2013, 10:28:37 PM »
Great pictures!
Having had the opportunity to meet your crew adds to the reading enjoyment.
Well be taking the Titanic out this weekend for another trial run before the big SD trip. Hope to also post some pictures. Dollied up the Corolla and took the MH to storage. Didn't even lose the car once!
2004 Itasca Suncruiser 37B

"Every hobby perpetuates its arcane mysteries. How else would we impress the newbies with our superior knowledge?"
--Gary RV Roamer--

Wendy

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Re: Westward Ho!
« Reply #26 on: June 24, 2013, 10:45:21 PM »
I love hearing about great spots in my state from visitors. We really do need to get up there some day.

Wendy
Wendy, Mike, and Gordon
~We can't be lost because we don't care where we're going~
Here's where we are http://map.datastormusers.com/user2.cfm?user=2276
2015 Allegro Ooen Road
1973 Sunshine Yellow VW Bug

jagnweiner

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Re: Westward Ho!
« Reply #27 on: July 08, 2013, 10:23:18 AM »
Alright, sorry for the delays in continuing this post-trip journal.  It's just been a pretty busy few weeks and I haven't been able to get to it.  Transferring photos and downloading has been a little cumbersome as well, which sort of sapped my motivation.  But the only way to get it done is to do it, so here goes:

Day 4, Tuesday 6/11, Rifle Gap SP, 0 miles in RV, 80ish miles in the toad.

Today was whitewater rafting day!  After a leisurely wakeup/breakfast, we drove back to Glenwood Springs, where we had made an appointment the day before with Blue Sky Adventures, one of the local rafting companies.  There are 4 or 5 rafting outfitters in Glenwood Springs that all seem to offer basically the same trips at the same prices ($52).  We went with Blue Sky because they had good reviews and pretty good marketing on their website.  I imagine the other outfitters would probably be just as good.  The most popular trip (and the one we took) is the "half day" (about two hours actual time on the water) trip down Glenwood Canyon on the Colorado River. 

We began by getting our safety briefing and getting outfitted at the office in downtown Glenwood.  We were all wearing swimsuits with shorts and tshirts over.  Some of us had on "Teva" sandals or tennis shoes, while others wore flip-flops.  My kids wearing flip-flops actually got the lucky break.  They were told they couldn't wear the flip-flops because they needed footwear that was firmly attached in case they fell out and had to walk on the river bottom at some point.  So instead, they got to wear "loaner" waterproof neoprene boots.  This would have been nice later on.

There were going to be three boats on the trip.  Our family of five was paired with an older couple from Denver and a guide to make up one boat.  We all loaded into an old school bus for the ride up the canyon.  Because the Colorado runs right along I70, the bus just gets on the interstate and heads up canyon.  The trip we signed up for normally begins with a run through the Shoshone rapids.  However, the water level was very high and the Shoshone was closed to boats because of the high water.  Accordingly, we put in at a rest area that is below the Shoshone rapids.  The trip was then extended further on past Glenwood to take in a different set of large rapids (can't remember the name).

I won't bore you with too many details, but it was a very enjoyable trip.  Our guide was nice and very informative, but kind of on the quiet side.  Most of the trip involves just floating down the river.  There are some small rapids every so often to keep things interesting and douse you with water.  On our trip, the biggest (and longest) rapids were at the very end.  Normally, the trips do the Shoshone rapids at the very beginning, and most of the rest of the trip is floating.  I enjoyed having the big rapids at the end, as it gave us more to anticipate. 

Two hours was about right.  We really enjoyed the trip, but it does start to get a little slow and the scenery is not as interesting after you pass through Glenwood.  Of course the canyon itself is absolutely beautiful, and you often forget that there is an interstate on one side of you and railroad tracks on the other.

We started our trip at noon and were all done by 3:00.  We hit the McDs again for a little snack and wifi.  After that, I decided to drive south out of town to see Sunlight ski area, where we used to ski when I was a kid almost 30 years ago.  That was a fun bit of nostalgia.  Sunlight hasn't changed much at all, although the road up has a lot more development. 

Then it was back to hang out around the campground for the evening.  Another great day.  No photos of the raft trip right now.  They are on a CD from the raft company and I haven't downloaded them yet.  For now, just picture every other photo of whitewater rafting you have seen, with screaming people getting soaked as they plow through the rapids.

Observation of the day:  When you see snow on the tops of mountains, the water coming out of those mountains and forming rivers is still VERY COLD!!!!  My one bit of discomfort on our rafting trip was my feet.  Water would collect in the bottom of the raft and my feet were sitting in some water most of the time and eventually just became numb.  By the time the sun would warm the water in the boat, we would go through another rapids and get new cold water in the boat.   :D  My kids that got to use the neoprene boots got the better end of the deal.  But, if that's my biggest problem for the day, it's been a pretty good day.

Tomorrow, onward to Utah!
-Scott
2000 Itasca Horizon 36LD

 

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