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Heading for the mountains and further north


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Posted 23 October 2014 - 09:08 AM

When departing major cities like Denver on a weekday, we try to get an early start to get ahead of the normal commuter traffic. We stayed in the southwest corner in the suburb of Lakewood, CO, which is west of downtown, which meant we'd have transit the center of the city to get on I-25 North. We got rolling at 6:15 AM and honestly, traffic was so heavy I wish we'd gotten going a bit sooner.
 
One place I hankered to see while on this trip was Estes Park, CO, which is west of I-25 about 30 miles, as it is a famously beautiful valley on the edge of the Rocky Mountains National Park and the site of the Stanley Hotel, opened in 1909 by F. O. Stanley, one of the two identical twins who created the Stanley Steamer. The scenery certainly is as spectacular as advertised and the hotel as opulent and grand. My landscape photography skills are pretty weak, but these two shots may give a hint of the majesty of this location.
 
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And here's the Stanley Hotel, where Stephen King got the idea for his novel The Shining in 1973 after staying in room 217 in the almost-empty hotel on the night before it closed for an extended period. The hotel runs the uncut R-rated version Kubrick's film version continuously on one of their cable channels.

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The drive through Big Thompson Canyon to get to Estes Park is stunning as well and we were fortunate to see a small herd of mountain goats, who had come to down to drink from the river at the bottom of the canyon, blocking the road for a few moments. The famous Stanley Mountain Wagons were built to bring guests to the Stanley Hotel through this canyon, when the road was so rugged that the trip took a full day.
 
As we were headed out of town and back to the interstate, what should pull up to the traffic light in front of us but this:
 
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1924 Ahrens-Fox model T54
 
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We followed the beautifully-restored fire engine to a gas station and chatted up the driver, Doug Klink, who operates the non-profit Reliance Fire Museum in Estes Park, and he graciously invited us over to enjoy the "five-cent tour." Doug and his assistant R.J. Floyd are both firefighters, Doug with the Estes Park Volunteer Fire Department and R.J. in the Denver suburb of Aurora. As well as housing Doug's personal collection of fire apparatus, the museum also operates a high-quality restoration shop for such equipment, with several engines in progress. Wish I had taken a picture of the 906 cubic inch Seagraves V12 engine displayed on a stand...
 
Be sure to take a look at the Reliance website, where you will discover that some of the museum's more modern equipment has actually been used to fight fires when it was needed.
 
After touring the museum, we backtracked to I-25 and headed for Cheyenne, WY, then picked up I-80 towards Laramie, and ultimately stopped in Evanston, WY, almost on the state line. We had ideas of going all the way to Salt Lake City, but there were a number of inexpensive hotels in Evanston and with a much shorter run planned for the next day, we figured we'd go into SLC then for some sightseeing before driving on to Boise.
 
We're taking a little longer than initially planned to reached Oregon, as we realized after thinking about it that it would be easier for us to sightsee while driving one car rather than two, and it also occurred to us that leaving Oregon with the Model A early on a Saturday or Sunday morning, rather than on a weekday, would be the wiser course to take.
 
As a note to Mike Swiss and Ray Price, we definitely got a decent meal in Evanston. My MO for finding restaurants in the towns where we stop is via internet search and TripAdvisor informed that the Bon Rico Supper Club was the number one rated restaurant out of 36 in Evanston. Their steaks were offered in petite, regular, and cowboy cuts. Wish I'd known before I ordered the regular cut ribeye that it was 16 ounces and two inches thick! Oh well, the leftovers will be great later today... LOL! Dunno what the cowboy cut weighs, but we saw one delivered to a nearby table and it seemed to overhang the edges of a standard size dinner plate!
 
Finally, here's something I don't think I've ever seen before, certainly not in the east:
 
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It was a unique experience to set the cruise control at 88 or 89 MPH and not be overly concerned about receiving a very expensive speeding citation.


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