At some point on a road trip, you need to really start heading home. By this point, we were getting tired of the road, the car, and the hotels, and home was just a couple of days away. So crossing Colorado–and Nebraska and Iowa, for that matter–wasn’t going to be a highlight. Unless they gave us something impressive to see from the car.
This day would be a study in contrast and change. We woke up in Grand Junction, at about 4500 feet above sea level, and when we left the hotel, this was the landscape we faced:
By the end of the day, we’d be in Nebraska, down to about 3,000 feet, and this is what we’d see out of the window:
For a while, it seemed like we’d just follow the river valley through Colorado, winding our way between some mountains:
At times the valley was wide. At others, it was barely wide enough for a railroad track, the river, and four lanes of freeway: that elevated road on the left in the picture above was actually the westbound lanes of I-70. We’re on the eastbound lanes here.
And sometimes, there was no room for a road at all, so we had to go through a tunnel:
That would be the second of three tunnels we’d go through during the day. But as I learned, you could also refer to them as a bore. Not because they were boring, but because bore was the action used to create the holes.
We continued to climb gradually throughout the morning, following the Eagle valley along the Colorado river, hitting Vail around 8,000 feet, and then climbing rapidly out of there until we got to about 11,100 feet–nearly two miles above our home altitude. A few of us (including me) were feeling the slight weariness brought on by the altitude, but we were OK.
And then we entered the longest tunnel on the interstate highway system:
Well, specifically the Johnson Bore…But you can read all about the tunnel here. We entered the 1.7 mile tunnel at 11,150 feet and left it around 11,000 feet. And then it was almost entirely downhill from there for about 50 miles until we hit Denver.
And the trip was literally downhill from there…
East of Denver, the topography flattened out, though it was a gradual downhill all the way to Omaha. Though it didn’t seem like that. But more on that tomorrow.
Tomorrow: Nebraska and Iowa. Flat, flat, corn, flat, corn. Corn. But almost home. Just a reminder: you can find larger versions of all of the pictures posted here on my Flickr site.
See you tomorrow.