At 10.24 am local time, we headed out on Highway 70 West. We must admit that we stopped at McDonald’s for a McMuffin and coffee. Because Dick was over 62 years of age, we got the “old age” rate – yes, $1.00 for each McMuffin, $2.00 for two – what a bargain! It was quite a nice little breakfast snack.
|Dick standing beside our Earthroamer|
|Earthroamer parked outside the Earthroamer Factory in Denver|
We were just getting to know the Earthroamer. We found we could sit on about 60 miles per hour which was very comfortable. Even then, in the first few days of driving, it tended to be more of a handful than we originally thought. Later in the trip we could drive it just as if we were driving a small car.
Highway 70 leaps westward through the Rocky Mountains and the Eisenhower Memorial Tunnel. We’d driven on this road years before, on a skiing trip to Aspen. We decided to follow the railway line – some of the bits we missed at night.
We turned off Highway 70 and drove over the Berthoud Pass (11,315 ft high) with snow on either side of the road but was well cleared.
We dropped down to the Winter Park
ski field and the western entrance of the famous Moffat Tunnel. Dick parked the Earthroamer and went searching for the tunnel entrance which was hidden in between the car parks at the ski field. Across the small valley, thousands of Denver people and others were skiing on the beautiful slopes. Even though the portal of the tunnel was to go through the mountain and not over it, we were at 9,178 ft. It was pretty cold outside at 50°F.
|Winter Park ski field|
|We drove through snow on both sides of the highway|
We drove along Highway 40 towards Granby, and at one stage drove across a level crossing and watched a 50 car train with three engines. Dick was in Heaven!
|Earthroamer stopped at the railway crossing so Dick could count the engines and carriages|
The traditional Smith family contest is ten points being awarded to the person who sights a moving train first. We did not know that we would see so many trains and in the end we gave up on the contest.
There was still scattered snow as we drove along in the shining sun. We were actually in the upper reaches of the Colorado River – the mighty river which drains out beside the Baja Peninsula in Mexico.
At Kremmling, we recognised the road that we’d driven on with Uncle Pete, between Copper Mountain and Steamboat Springs, on one of our previous trips.
|Snow cover around the railway line|
Just after Kremmling, we took the Trough Road, a dirt and gravel road, which took us up and around the Colorado Canyon. There was a spectacular lookout where we could look down on the railway line going through a tunnel. Unfortunately, no trains were present.
|View down to the railway line from the lookout|
We stopped at some old buildings at State Bridge - one of which was alleged to have had President Hoover stay there.
A little further on, we stopped beside the Colorado River at Catamount for the night.
We went for a walk up and down the road beside the river - a little bit of exercise.
|We stopped for the night beside the Colorado River at Catamount|
We also spoke to some fishermen who had been drifting down the river and had left their trailers for a later pick up.
|Walking and watching trains - Dick's heaven|
With 172 miles on the first day, it was indeed a pleasure to test our Earthroamer. That night we sat beside the Colorado River with the railway line opposite watching satellite TV and listening to the 60s channel on the satellite radio – ridiculous luxury.