In 1967 my father bought a Pontiac Catalina and a dingy old travel trailer and took his girlfriend, my brother and me on a road trip. Over the next 8 weeks we drove 13,498 miles, visited 51 parks, and saw wonders like geysers, redwoods, grizzlies, and the Summer of Love in San Francisco. The trip made an indelible impression, cementing my appreciation for the natural world and the American landscape. This summer Pamela and I hope to repeat the experience for our family.

Saturday, July 10, 2010


Thursday, July 8

9:50 Leave Morefield Campground at Mesa Verde. Got a bit of a late start because we had to clean up from having the Kalinskis over for dinner. The night before we just threw the dirty dishes in the van. Too hard trying to wash up in the dark.

9:55 The usual construction delays. Our recovery dollars at work! Math class for the kids begins.

10:05 Leave Mesa Verde NP.

10:19 Stopped in Cortez to buy Colorado map because we evidently recycled our other map accidentally.

10:50 Passed Circle K dude ranch where Pamela stayed when she was 14

11:45 Stopped to take photo of Mt. Wilson. Encountered heavy mountain thunderstorm. Quite a change from the dry desert climate we’ve been dealing with for the last 12 days.

12:30 Stopped in Telluride for lunch and touring.

3:30 Stopped in Montrose for gas. Also stopped at a roadside stand to buy a string of dried chiles.

The last time I passed through Montrose, in 1982, I was struck by what a pleasant town it was. This time it looked like just a big suburban sprawl surrounding a Walmart and a Target.

Earlier in the day we passed through Ridgeway. We didn’t stop but it seemed like a rather cool little town. That’s how Montrose felt 20 years earlier.

5:10 Pass road to Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. Don’t bother to go there. If it had been earlier, I would consider making the drive so I could snag another national park patch. Instead, we just had a memorial singing of “Patches.”

7:00 Crossed Monarch Pass. It wasn’t snowing, thank goodness. When Pamela and I drove this road in August of 1992, it was snowing hard. That was a scary drive. This time there was fresh snow on the roadside, but nothing in the air.

7:30 Checked into Silver Ridge Lodge in Salida, CO.

8:00 Dinner at Amica’s, a cool brew pub. Thurday night and a crowd on the street waiting to get in.

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