Monday, July 10, 2017

Back into the Great Amercan West

The Eastern Chapter of the Society of American Travel Writers was meeting in Sheridan, Wyoming, and our friend Gaylene Ore suggested we stop en route to see her territory in Colorado which is all the Good Girls needed to start planning our 2017 road trip. 

Most appropriate as a travel writers' meeting in South Dakota inspired this site, our moniker and these annual jaunts six years ago. We invited you to come along then and hope you are still riding along today. #Good Girls Westward Ho!

Day 1, June 12, 2017: We're stopping here why?

From this to the jail? Photo © by Judy Wells.
After flying into Denver and picking up a rental car, our GPS steered us through mountains, Vail Village where Judy waxed nostalgic over idyllic summers, past the turnoff for Aspen where Debi recalled ski trips, through Grand Junction's lengthy homelier side, dumping us a what it said was our destination, the driveway of the county jail.

Relying on our hostess Gaylene Ore more than electronics, we eventually landed correctly, in a well-equipped room at the Springhill Suites Hotel. It got better.

Grand Junction Visitors Bureau left a tote bag of goodies welcoming the Good Girls.

Pie improves everything. Photo © by Judy Wells.
After a day of 1/2-ounce packs of airplane peanuts or pretzels, a whole dinner anywhere would have been good but at Bin 707 it was superb. Fried artichoke hearts were intriguing, the lamb tenderloin was beyond good and a slice of Momofuku's pie with its ground oatmeal cookie crust was too rich for even the Good Girls to finish.

Photo © by  Judy Wells.
A quick stop at the hotel breakfast buffet and we hit the streets of downtown Grand Junction for real revelation. Flowers and fountains brightened the wide streets.

Art on the Corner added interest everywhere around the restored 19th century storefronts.

Apt entrance to the West, 19th century facades. Photo © by Judy Wells.
So intrigued were we that we forgot to stop for coffee at Enstrom Candies famed for their almond toffee for four generations. (When the Good Girls pass up a sweet or caffeine treat you know they have been captivated.)

Sculpture to look at and play with. Photo © by Judy Wells.
Best of all, on a Tuesday morning, the many cafes were bustling with business. Customers sat outside, often with dogs at their feet. Mothers shared coffee while their children played around fountains and climb-on-me sculpture.
Older residents lingered over bagels.

That's one large shiny bison. Photos by Debi Lander.

We resisted adding retail therapy to our itinerary, but stopped by Cafe Sol to pick up wraps, salad, desserts and beverages for lunch.

Not quite ready. Photo by Debi Lander.
Next stop, Two Rivers Winery & Chateau, a lovely pale stone complex complete with B&B.  They currently ship 12,000 to 14,000 cases a year to 20 states. We liked the cabernet.

Gaylene suggested we spend several hours visiting Colorado State Monument but thinking in terms of a statue of some kind, we wondered how much time seeing a monument could possibly take.

Could the day get any better?
Imagine our surprise when we drove into what was more like a national park with spectacular scenery and clouds that vied for attention.

Deep canyons...

soaring cliffs...

eons of geologic history ...
and yes, a monument.
Independence Monument.

There was a photograph demanding to be taken at every turn in the road and there were many of those. Not crowded either.

Sometimes there is an advantage to not having a clue. Our reactions were stunned delight.

Unlike the stunned horror of Beatrice Farnham, the young Boston artist who was briefly the wife of John Otto, the man responsible for protecting this piece of irreplaceable territory.  He wanted to live life in the open, visiting every inch of his spot of heaven. As the brief bride said, "I tried hard to live his way, but I could not do it, I could not live with a man to whom even a cabin was an encumbrance."

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We felt sorry for her but grateful for Otto's dogged dedication. And to Gaylene for introducing us to this monument.
Art and life combine in this image of John Otto against the side of the Visitors Center. Photo by Debi Lander.

If you have a choice of approaching from the east or west, choose the east, Grand Junction, gate. That puts most scenic pull offs on your right. Trust us, you will use them!

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