Wednesday, June 13, 2012

West Coast or Bust

We left Lugoff on June 6th, heading up to Robbinsville, NC, to see Dick and Mary Anne Sander, our RVing friends we met in Florida.  They invited us to their lovely home in the mountains for dinner and lots of talk.  We took a stroll through the neighborhood, over hill and dale, to see the lakes and beautiful scenery.  We drank a good amount of wine, had a wonderful meal, and really enjoyed the time with them.  We plan on meeting up again next winter in Texas!

The next day we headed out for St Louis, MO. 

The skies looked foreboding.

Driving in an area of the Smokey Mountains.

Here we are in a traffic jam entering Tennessee and we sat here for about an hour before the traffic moved.  Turns out someone in a pickup truck took a corner too sharply and careened into oncoming traffic hitting a truck head-on that was carrying rocks.  Ouch!  Everyone involved looked okay.

Beauty in the Cherokee National Forest in Tennessee.

Is he a good looking dude or what????

This is the Nashville, TN, skyline and ....

...home of the Tennessee Titans.

Crossing the Mississippi to St Louis, Missouri.  The water level was really down.

We stopped in St Louis to see Maureen, a good friend of mine that I hadn't seen in 35 years.  Our children played together when they were young but we drifted apart for far too long.  It was fun to get together with her the first night and then see one of her sons and his family the second evening.  We also were able to see some of the sights while we were there.

We took our pups on a hike through the Route 66 State Park on the Meramec River.  A good part of the park followed the river and the dogs had a blast chasing the deer which had come down to drink.  The deer kept crossing back and forth across the trail and some of them were barely ten feet in front of us.  They didn't seem too worried about the dogs and eventually Max and Lucy got so tired they quit chasing after them.  This park is named for the old Route 66 that used to go across the country and we walked on sections of the park that were the actual highway.  Pretty cool. 

The Meramec River.
After wearing out the dogs we took a trip downtown to see the Gateway Arch on the Mississippi River.  That was quite an experience.

A view of the Arch from the park by the river.

The Arch is 630 feet high and 630 feet across at the base.

If you look waaaayyyyy up at the top there are some little windows for viewing.

Brett thought it would be a fun idea to go up to the top.  You have to walk down below the street level to get into the Gateway building.  It houses a wonderful museum with a great deal of history of the United States.  It also has an historical section related to St Louis and its growth.  You could easily spend a day or two just in the museum part........but Brett wanted to go up to the top of the Arch.  When we purchased our tickets the lady asked us if either of us was claustrophobic, afraid of heights, or didn't like crowds.  Well, of course, we both said no even though I was still mulling over the question when Brett forced me into the line.
Here we are with other people waiting on steps where the elevators takes you to the top.

There are 8 separate elevators that each hold 5 people (note the large chairs) and take you up to the top.  Oh, did I mention the elevator ride lasted 4 minutes........I was the first one into elevator (I use that term loosely) and don't I look like a timid little mouse. 

The door to the elevator is glass so you get to see things like gears and steps and strange metal objects while it is moving.  I kept noticing how warm it was in the space capsule....oh, I'm sorry, I meant elevator.

There are 1,100 steps to the top. 

And here we are at the top trying to find a little window to look out.  Notice the small space and the large crowd.  By this time I was already thinking about the trip down.......Brett was busy taking pictures. 

The other side of the Mississippi River from the Arch.

Busch Stadium where the Cardinals play.  How cool is that!

A beautiful view of downtown St Louis.

A river barge moving down the Mississippi.

Cinderella was here, too, because we saw her coach parked out front.

While we were in St Louis we had dinner with Maureen one evening at a great Chinese restaurant.  We sat for hours and talked about our kids and remembered things that happened when they were growing up. 

The next night we were invited to dinner with Maureen and her son, Vincent, and his family.  Vincent and his wife, Tracy, wanted to take us to an area called The Loop.  It is six blocks of  restaurants, live music, cafes and eclectic shops. They took us to dinner at the Blueberry Hill which is a landmark restaurant filled with pop culture memorabilia.  Like a zillion Pez containers, Howdy Doody plates and cups, and tons of other neat items that most of us threw away when we became adults.  The restaurant features live music by touring and St Louis bands, including Chuck Berry who made the Blueberry Hill song famous.  I know there are a few of you out there that remember Chuck Berry!

My good friend, Maureen, and my honey enjoying ourselves.  How come Brett and I are the only two with grey hair?

Dr Vincent Joe, Tracy, and their sweet little girl, Lillian.  She was having as much fun as the grownups.

Sadly, we had to depart after two days but Brett and I will be back.  Not only to see our friends but also to explore this remarkable town.  And I'm definitely planning on spending more time in "The Loop".

Heading into Kansas we crossed this narrow bridge that they had turned into three lanes instead of two. 

Eastern Kansas has many rolling hills and is a beautiful area.

This proves that Dorothy was from Kansas, too.

Abilene has the Eisenhower Museum and they still like Ike.

Starting to see the wheat fields as we drive further into Kansas.

Lots of wind mills and believe me they had lots of wind. On the western side of the state we faced wind gusts of 45mph which made it hard to keep the rig on the road.  Brett was the lucky one who had to do the driving.

See what I mean.  This was a view from I-70.

Wheat is being harvested now.  We stayed in Colby, KS, the second night and Brett talked to some young guys who travel from late April to November all over the West harvesting the grain.  They said the wind always blows in this area.

An old farm in Eastern Kansas with nothing else around it.

Finally, the Rockies come into view as we head closer to Denver and civilization.

Beautiful scenery, lots of green.

On the left is a rock slide area.

We were at 11,000 feet and there was still snow in the mountains.

One of several tunnels through the mountains.

Reaching the top at 11,318 feet.  No where to go but down and I was driving.  The interstate had many warnings for truck drivers to not exceed 35 mph on the downside.  We saw one truck fly past us and then pull over to the side because something in the truck was smoking.

Ski trails around Breckenridge.

Stunning view from the White River Canyon.  See how small the car is in front.

We spent the night in Colorado at Ami's Acres RV Park at Glenwood Springs.  Across the interstate from the park was the White River where people were kayaking and rafting down the rapids. While there we took the pups for a long walk up to a fishery and saw some sights along the way.
This was the view of the White River from our rig at the RV park.

Poppies in bloom.

These are Greenback Cutthroat Trout which is the Colorado state fish. 

Driving through western Colorado the scenery became more stark.

A lot of green on this side of the road because of irrigation.

The other side of the road looked like something from the moon.

We finally made it to Moab, Utah.

Just the beginning of all the rock formations we will be seeing in Moab.

We can't wait to start exploring the area.

That's it for our trip across the country.  We are in Moab now and Brett has already taken hundreds of pictures because there is so much to see.  But that's for our next blog!  If you care to look at additional pictures Brett took on the trip West just click on the  High Hopes album link at the top of this blog.  Peace !

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