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GoinThisAway

middle TN

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Posted: 08/06/18 07:38pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Having trouble getting this to post so trying this before adding all the text.
OK. That worked but it doesn't want to let me post the whole report so I'm going to try one day at a time.
Yahoo! It worked. So here we go ...

*****

I learned I was to go for a week of training in Denver, Colorado, and decided to take a few days off at either end of the course and drive rather than fly. I would go out on my own then, after the course, my DH would fly out and we’d travel home together. It was to be my longest solo trip yet. This was a while ago but better late posting this than never.

DAY 1
The day of my departure was overcast so I traveled under gray skies all the way to the I-155 bridge over the Mississippi River.


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Once over the Mississippi River and in the Missouri boot heel I pulled off the road for a break. Yeah, there it is! Blue sky!


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This area is part of the Mississippi River floodplain with rich soil supporting expansive fields of crops. I looked close at one field of gold I was unfamiliar with and was surprised to find it was rice.


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Further down the road was a more familiar crop, soybeans.


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Later I spied the unmistakable sight of a southern icon, a field of cotton ready to be harvested.


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And where there’s cotton, there are cotton gins.


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My destination for the night was Big Spring RV Park at Van Buren, MO, where I had my pick of sites alongside the Current River. The owner, John, is a laid-back guy who runs the place as much for enjoyment as for business. He rents tubes and will bus you upriver so you can float back down to the campground but I have yet to visit in the summer.


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Continued ...

* This post was last edited 08/06/18 08:16pm by GoinThisAway *   View edit history

GoinThisAway

middle TN

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Posted: 08/06/18 07:52pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

DAY 2
The next morning I strolled along the riverbank, watching as a mist rose off the cold water.


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After crossing from Missouri into Kansas I was ready for a break and stopped at a small roadside park. I was rewarded with this view looking back to the east. I made this panoramic view from three photos but still have some learning to do with the Corel software I used to stitch them together. This area is part of the flint hills. I’d read that the rocky land here had defied settlers’ plows, preserving this part of the prairie as grazing land. A fortunate turn of fate indeed as the area is beautiful.


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I stopped for the night at Cheney State Park on a reservoir of the same name just west of Wichita, KS.


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DAY 3
There were only a couple other campers there so I found a spot off to myself and had a peaceful night. The next morning I was enjoying breakfast at the dinette when as one bird chased another out of the tree outside my window. Thunk! They slammed into the glass and fell to the ground.


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I went outside and found one of the birds stunned but in good shape. It recovered very quickly and flew off.


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The other bird looked like it had been knocked cold, motionless except for its breathing. It was a warm morning so I figured it best to just leave the poor thing alone and see if it recovered. It took 10 minutes or so but it did finally come to, right itself, and eventually fly away. Probably looking for some aspirin.


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I walked out to the end of a jetty to get a photo of my quiet site before continuing west on US 54/400.


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Another 100 miles down the road I stopped in Greensburg, Kansas.


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Being employed full time, on most of my trips I’m pressed for time and find myself passing up many interesting stops. This time I was determined to slow down. I’d passed through Greensburg a couple times on previous trips. This time I stopped and toured an iconic roadside attraction.


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The Big Well Museum has a series of plaques describing the founding of the town and construction of the world’s largest hand dug well. Of course I also walked the many steps down into the well.


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The plaques also covered the historic tornado that decimated the town in 2007 and the path the town has taken in its recovery. I remember news stories from that time.


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One can get a good view of the town from an upper floor observation area in the museum. From there, I saw preserved older buildings, remnants of buildings destroyed by the tornado, empty lots, and new modern construction. Leaving the museum and walking into town, I browsed through a little antique store and made a donation to a group working to restore the town’s theatre. Maybe next time I come through I’ll be able to see a show there.


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I left Greensburg, still on Hwy 54/400 until I came to the next town, Mullinville, where Hwy 50 veers south and Hwy 400 veers north. I stayed on Hwy 400 and came across a huge display of eclectic signs on the west side of town. I stopped and took a closer look. Hey, I remember seeing these on an American Pickers television show! The art was created by M.T. Liggett and often has a political slant.


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The fields in southeast Missouri had been large but they were nothing in comparison with the fields in Kansas. And here I saw another crop I was unfamiliar with, quinoa. It was something to see vast fields of its red seed heads ready for harvest. I was surprised to see it being harvested with combines just like ones you’d see harvesting wheat.


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Fall was also the time to store up the large rolls of hay needed for another prairie industry, cattle feed lots. Whenever I spotted a feed lot in the distance, I’d put the truck’s ventilation system on recycle. If I wasn’t quick enough a heady odor would fill the truck and take miles to clear out. Pewee!


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One of my DH’s favorite places out west is Cimarron, New Mexico. So I couldn’t help but take a picture of Cimarron, Kansas, to share with him. There’s no chance of mistaking one for the other though as Cimarron NM is in the edge of the mountains while the highest point in Cimarron KS is the top of the silos that characterize this and most other prairie towns. These towns are also mostly located along a railroad like the one my GPS insisted I was on.


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Continued ...

GoinThisAway

middle TN

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Posted: 08/06/18 07:55pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

DAY 4
I’d spent the night at John Martin Reservoir 50 miles into Colorado. Being late when I pulled in, it wasn’t until morning I was able to see the beautiful waterfowl area downstream of the dam. I’d tried to find the campground on the lake side in dwindling light the night before but had backtracked to the tailwater campground when the road seemed to go on forever. I was glad I did!


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I took a walk on a trail around the waterfowl pond seeing beautiful flowers, insects, and birds. Tracks in the sand showed the area is also visited by larger animals such as deer.


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Back on the road, I had turned off Hwy 400 and was traveling a country road when I saw this interesting mailbox. Very cute!


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And the reason I’d turned off the main road was to find this, Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site. For many years, this was one of the busiest stops along the mountain route of the Santa Fe Trail.


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In the parking lot was a beautiful blue roan gelding mowing the lawn. Also at the parking lot were some informative signs that I took the time to read before walking the trail to the fort.


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Approaching the fort I passed a cemetery of 13 graves. Only one, that of Edward Dorris, is marked with a headstone. He was a stagecoach driver whose life ended here in this lonely corner of the west. I could imagine how welcome the sight of the mud walls of the fort, with Old Glory flying above, would have been to a dusty, weary traveler.


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When the fort’s builders decided to relocate, they tried to sell it to the U.S. government. But when they low-balled him, they blew it up after moving out. So the fort seen today is a reconstruction. Inside its doors is a spacious plaza surrounded by separate functional areas such as cooking areas, a blacksmith shop, a trading store, dining areas, gathering areas, and sleeping areas.


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In one place the outer layer of mud had cracked off the fort wall, revealing the underlying mud bricks which were used to construct it.


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A window niche showed off the old-style wavy glass while from the top of the parapet wall I could see way off across the flat plain.


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Another niche in the wall on the 2nd floor was open, possibly for defenders to shoot at attackers. And through the opening I could see a nearby wooded area blazing with brightly colored leaves. This calls for a walk!


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After my visit to Bent’s Old Fort, I picked up the highway again in LaJunta, Colorado, only the 400 designation had been dropped at the KS-CO state line leaving it as Hwy 50. There I spied this extreme RV. It looked like the camper portion had beaten its way through the wilderness a time or two.


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I followed Hwy 50 west to Pueblo then turned north on Interstate 25. I’d picked out Mueller State Park as my goal for the night. It ought to be about right there on that mountain where the storm cloud is settling down ;-) I made it there after the storm and before dark but barely.


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DAY 5
Morning dawned bright and sunny, highlighting a beautiful view from my camper window. The brown plains were gone, replaced with mountains complete with a dusting of early snow.


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Maybe one of the RV.NET Avion aficionados can identify the owner of this rig.


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Packed and ready to roll, I was still in a “go slow and enjoy the trip” mode so I looked for a trail to walk before leaving Mueller SP. The Elk Meadow trail looked interesting at about 2 miles long and it was a loop trail. It turned out to be a good choice with beautiful fall colors and scenic mountain views but, unfortunately, no elk.


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Leaving Mueller State Park, I traveled just a short distance to Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument. This monument is small at about 6,000 acres but has 15 miles of trails. I didn’t walk all 15 miles but did explore the 1 mile long Petrified Forest Loop Trail.


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Other than the beautiful scenery, the most notable feature of the park are the fossilized tree stumps. I read they were formed when redwood trees were buried in a volcanic eruption 34 million years ago. Wow, those are some old stumps! And big ones too at up to 14 feet in diameter.


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The exposed portion of the trees is long gone. The stumps are so well preserved I could see the wood grain. I could also see that once exposed the layers makes them highly susceptible to erosion.


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I didn’t find any flowers here but did see some plants as pretty as a flower.


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The trail led off to a rise where a sign indicated a lodge had existed in the 1920s, before the area became part of the national park service.


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Back near the visitor center was the grandmother of all fossilized redwood stumps … or actually three grandmothers. And they even have girdles! They’re also under roof to protect them from weathering.


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I did a better job of stitching together a panoramic view of the Petrified Forest Loop Trail area.


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I could have gone back to the Interstate to finish my drive up to Denver. But instead I decided to make a loop through the mountains. So I went west on Hwy 24 a ways then turned north on County Road 9. It was a good choice as I had the road to myself and the scenery, accented with afternoon storm clouds, was spectacular. I didn’t average much speed as I kept stopping to take pictures.


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I made it to my destination and picked out a site with a view at the Bear Creek Lake Park in Lakewood on the west side of Denver. The park was only 5 miles or so from the class site so each morning I’d drive over, attend the training, then return to the park. I probably could have boondocked at the training site but the nightly rate at the park was low and was paid for by my work. Besides, with such a beautiful view to enjoy, staying at the park was definitely more appealing. I even managed to get back early enough to walk some of the trails. I’d definitely stay there again!


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The trip out on my own was very enjoyable. It was a nice taste of what I hoped to be doing when I retire in a few years. I might let my DH come along some then ;-) As noted earlier, he flew out at the end of the training course and we returned to Tennessee together, again with time allowed to make a few stops. Stay tuned for a separate report on that part of the trip.

Click HERE to go to the report on our trip home.

* This post was last edited 12/08/18 01:33pm by GoinThisAway *   View edit history


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NRALIFR

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Posted: 08/06/18 08:49pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

That’s an awesome trip report! I love your pictures and narrative. We share a love of the less well known sites along your route, as we’ve stopped at many of the same places. It’s always a pleasure to return, either personally or vicariously through others.

Thanks for taking the time to post this. I look forward to seeing more.

[emoticon][emoticon]


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a0ra

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Posted: 08/06/18 09:11pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Beautiful Pictures!!

Isaac-1

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Posted: 08/06/18 09:13pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Wow, thanks for that trip report, it was a walk down memory lane for me in more than one way. For one my first wife grew up about 20 miles form Van Buren, MO in the little town of Winona which you would pass through if you were driving west from Van Buren. Also I drove through Greensburg KS, in the summer of 2007, just about 8 weeks after the tornado hit, the devastation was hard to comprehend, starting about 7 miles out of town we started seeing wind damage, it got worse and worse as we approached the town, there were no undamaged building to be seen, and several blocks were just piles of debris, even the street signs were gone and the street names were painted on the pavement in spray paint so people could tell which street was which.

azrving

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Posted: 08/06/18 09:52pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Great post. Thank you. I want to check out the well.

Grit dog

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Posted: 08/06/18 09:57pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

You have a way of sharing the beauty of America! Thank you for sharing


"Yes Sir, Oct 10 1888, Those poor school children froze to death in their tracks. They did not even find them until Spring. Especially hard hit were the ones who had to trek uphill to school both ways, with no shoes." -Bert A.

GpnAZ

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Posted: 08/07/18 12:27am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Excellent trip report, beautiful pics and interesting narrative, thank you for sharing!


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gbopp

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Posted: 08/07/18 05:14am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Beyond awesome! [emoticon]

Thanks for sharing.

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