June 10 - 13
|Day 1 - We started off the trip after entirely too little sleep the night before (Brad = 3 hrs, Cara = 1 hr) due to our preparations for renting our house. It's all clean, freshly painted, and packed up now though! We pulled out of Wiebelo Drive and said goodbye to our first house. We left the house around 6 AM Eastern and made pretty good time, crossing the Ohio into Illinois around 9:30 AM. And that was even after stopping for an oil change in Paducah. Maxwell and Zara were very good for this first leg and slept through most of it with their mother. Alora & Brittan were not with us either, since they were going to the beach with Nanny and Poppy, so we were able to take the Accord. They had come to Dinosaur on our first trip there in 1999.||
Zara's all packed in the car.
The oldest Winery in Hermann.
|Our original plan had been to lunch on the riverboat McDonald's in St. Louis where we had taken the twins on our previous trips west, however it is sadly no longer there. C'est la vive. We stopped at a rest area just past St. Louis and made sandwiches. For afternoon fun we decided to go see Hermann, Missouri. My interest in deutsches Kultur und americanischen Wein found it hard to resist. Hermann is a beautiful little town that has some of the best American wine (ie not vitis vinfifera) that I've tasted. The Nortons especially at Stone Hill and Hermannhof were excellent. Down in Tennesse the Norton is called Cynthiana, but doesn't rival the vintages of Hermann. Several of these vinyards are also involved in the experiment of fortifying American grapes, like the Norton, into something like a Port. Sadly, none have yet met with particularly good success.|
Our goal the first day was to reach Kansas and the long summer days provided us time to do so. We stopped just east of Topeka at a place called Woodside Park which turned out rather luckily to be free. This was because it was considered primative, although it was much nicer than many a campsite we stayed at. We all enjoyed marshmellows and hotdogs for dinner. The night brought rain but our tent kept us dry.
Day 2 - We did alot of driving without much stopping until lunch. Western Kansas and eastern Colorado is very boring to drive through; the Rockies aren't visible until you almost hit Denver. Cara, who slept in the car most of the first day, let me take a short nap in Colorado. When we reached the summit of Vail Pass we stopped to play a bit in the unmelted snow by the highway and to have lunch.
|After that we followed I-70 all the way to Rifle, where we camped. The Glenwood Canyon along this route is beautiful to drive through, although all the views of the Rockies are a welcome change from the flatness of the Great Plains. We had thought about maybe going through Rocky Mountain National Park again like we did in 1999 with Alora and Brittan, but Cara had packed the coats in a box and we couldn't find them before we left. I was also somewhat reticent to repeat that terrifying drive. We camped the 11th at Rifle Gap State Park, not too far south of Dinosaur.||
A professional camper always samples the gravel when choosing a campsite.
Day 3 - We got up with the sun again and headed out toward Dinosaur. Maxwell was giddy the whole drive with anticipation. Dinosaur is still a great place to visit where one can touch the dinosaur bones and everything. Maxwell pushed Zara in the stroller for a bit, but when we reached the building he just ran from exhibit to exhibit announcing each to us with glee: "Mommy! Mommy! Yat sharptooth!", "Yook, yat yiddlefoot!", "Yook dinosaur bones!", etc. It was everything he hoped it would be and more. We ate lunch there and then got back on the road. I also got a book on the Roadside Geology of Utah to make the drive more exciting.
Everyone loves visiting Auntie Dell ... will they spend more time
here or with me in Palo Alto this summer?
|Day 4 - After camping not far into Nevada at the Illipah Reservation campground (free, but not very nice), we headed out toward the Elias's on US 50. It's an interesting drive: basin then range, basin then range, ad infinitum. It's a pretty drive down the self-titled "Loneliest Road in America", but one that gives ample opportunity to really test a car's capabilities. Seeing all the cattle farms in this near desert with trees on the hillsides really makes one wonder how different it would look if Mediterraneans, not Anglo-Saxons had first settled this territory. Would there be sheep in the valley and olive trees on the hillsides instead; perhaps better suited to the arid climate? We reached Dell's house in the early afternoon and were greeted, as usual, with overwhelming hospitality.|