Day 9 – Edgemont to Fountain, via Cheyenne, Laramie, Denver & Colorado Springs
South Dakota to Colorado, via Wyoming
Today is the first of our really long drives with not much sightseeing. And, amazingly for us it was the first bad day of constant grey horizons and rain.
We headed out of Edgemont on a quiet country road (nothing like the country roads in the UK) which seemed to go on for miles, once again without any houses just loads of cattle.
After 150 miles the largest place we saw was a small community town of Lusk where most shops were closed for Sunday.
We then moved onto an Interstate (motorway) road, only our second since leaving Salt Lake City. The map and our satellite navigation told us we would have a journey of 111 miles until our next turn. The road passed by another part of the original Oregon trail (it seemed a long while since we passed it in Idaho) as we made our way past Laramie to Cheyenne. This trip keeps throwing up so many names from my childhood entertainment of TV series, films and annuals. We realised that so many of the places we have visited would mean nothing to our children’s generation.. When our children were growing up they didn’t seem to embrace the ‘Cowboy and Indian’ games and films like we did. I guess if they did a road trip in 25 years time they would visit the homes of Playstation, Sega, Nintento wherever that is! Or seek out the film sets from the Disney Channel or well known programmes such as The Simpsons. I wouldn’t fault them, it was a different time and generation.
Before we left the Wild West I had to make a purchase for a souvenir I had decided to buy. We called into Cheyenne and parked by the old rail road depot which is now a museum. Another reminder of the importance of the rail road in years gone by.
Souvenir bought, a traditional felt hat for the cold winters when we are in Spain, we made our way back on the road.
Cheyenne rail depot
Welcome to Colorado
A wet and blustery day a we came into Colorado
Hardly colourful as we came into the state!
After a couple of hours on the open road, we noticed more urban towns appearing and traffic increasing. We could see the outskirts of Denver and for the first time since Chicago a landscape of sky scrapers. We were lucky to be driving through this city on a Sunday as traffic was heavy but not stationary, in fact we didn’t go below 60mph on our Interstate – their roads are so different from ours back home! With rain pouring down we had the same grey vision of Denver that we saw from the train. I am sure this famous city has some great places to visit and can look stunning on a nice sunny day, but it wasn’t on our agenda, we just wanted to get onto our next location. A noticeable landmark we did drive past was the Denver Broncos Stadium. Their strap line ‘fight like a bronco’ reminded me of our beloved Leicester Tigers Rugby team back home and the good old days of when we ‘fought like Tigers’ and were considered one of the best teams in the world.
Driving through Denver I was amazed at the level of ‘under-taking’ going on. People weaving in and out of lanes to overtake – something we are not used to. Having driven in the U.K., France and Spain, people generally stay in lanes. However, I am told in the USA this is allowed and normal. It did mean you had to keep your eyes peeled in the heavy traffic and wet conditions, not a problem for my experienced driver who was well up for the task (edit from Chris: they encourage keeping right unless overtaking but as usual there are some middle lane hoggers!)
Heading out of Denver the traffic started to clear although the rain didn’t ease. I am told there is a lovely view from the interstate road to the hills, but we had fog and mist so we will never know!
Motorway driving can be boring and with a long straight road ahead to Colorado Springs we decided to turn off and drive through some smaller towns. We stopped off in Larkspur, a very small town, and pulled in at a liquor store. Named Hops and Vines this shop was another place specialising in craft beers. We stocked up on some local Denver and Colorado beers, bought a souvenir for our son then got on our way. The owner was very helpful and well travelled. Turned out he had been to Ronda and Granada in Spain, not that far from Casa Goodwin. He was planning a trip to Norway soon having been to Iceland in the past. He was interested in our trip and congratulated us on taking in so many states. He had visited all but 4 of the 50!
We made our way through Colorado Springs, passing the impressive US Airforce Academy building (memories of Top Gun!) and saw some golf courses, but despite being keen golfers, golf was not on our agenda yet. We would wait until California and hopefully some warmer weather before we played over here.
We came off the interstate motorway to our place for the evening, Fountain. The town was nothing more than a place we picked en-route to Sante Fe for our drive the next day. But it was the first underwhelming place we have seen. I don’t think it was the fact it was grey, foggy and misty – I think it was the place! We had found the sort of America I have never liked in the past. Roads with large shops, eateries and a lack of a ‘town centre’.
Anyway we made our way to the hotel and for the first time my English was not understood. The receptionist was Chinese and had a very poor grasp of English (edit from Chris: enough to tell us, smoking in room, fine $400, pets in room, fine $200). We checked in and went to Walmart (another shopping expedition) as we had decided to use the microwave in the room and have a quiet night in.
Anyone who has ever been to a Walmart knows how huge they are. The shop makes the Carrefour’s in Europe and the large Asda’s and Tesco’s in U.K. look like corner shops! To help me find what I wanted I asked a lady store assistant. She had a badge ‘habló español’ but I spoke to her in English fully expecting her to understand me. How wrong could I be – she apologised saying ‘No speak English’. So I went straight into my Andalusian pigeon Spanish to ask for what I needed. I had expected to perhaps need my Spanish in New Mexico or San Diego but not in Colorado. I managed to make myself understood and get what we needed.
Back to the hotel for a quiet evening and a bit of TV watching. I was pleased to see a programme about Dr Who and the new female Doctor on the BBC America channel, something our daughter would have loved to see as she is a mad keen Dr Who fan.
After the hotel and shopping expedition I was left thinking that in this town no-one will notice my ‘lovely English accent’!
Time to move on. Tomorrow we head to New Mexico and Sante Fe