Wednesday, October 2, 2019
Well, we are safely back home after our tour of the Mountain States. No photos in this post, just a summary and a few observations.
Our drive from Rapid City, SD to Denver was nice and took us through western Nebraska. Previously, we had only been in eastern Nebraska, the Omaha area. The countryside was entirely different.
The Denver International Airport (DIA) is the 20th-busiest airport in the world, and the fifth busiest airport in the United States. it is the largest airport in North America by total land area and the second largest in the world. Runway 16R/34L, with a length of 16,000 feet (3.03 miles), is the longest public use runway in North America and the seventh longest in the world. With over 35,000 employees, the airport is the largest employer in Colorado.
Our night at the Ramada Wyndham - Airport, was ok but not exceptional. Here are some observations about our lodgings for this trip. The most expensive per night stay was in Yellowstone. The tiny cabin with a tiny bath, no phone, no internet, no tv, no refrigerator, no microwave and no breakfast cost $200/night.
The best breakfast was at a mom and pop hotel in Moab, The Inca Inn. It too cost almost $200 per night but had all of the amenities lacking at Yellowstone. The breakfast was fabulous, including homemade bread.
The best overall lodging we had was in Rapid City at the Fairfield Marriott. It too included all the amenities and was the most comfortable room. The cost was the lowest at $55.00 per night including taxes.
The above observations are only for the hotel/motel rooms we stayed in. It does not include our two stays in our timeshare condominiums.
This was the first extended trip Kay and I have done by ourselves in quite a while and frankly we were a little apprehensive. We are not as young as we once were (who is) and consequently it is often better to travel in a group (even if it is a small group of two couples). Four eyes are better than two, it takes a village, etc, etc. As it turned out, we had a great time and no major issues at all.
Originally, I was a little concerned about the expected 4,000 plus miles we planned to drive, but driving turned out not to be an issue. It is so much easier driving out west than here in the east and southeast. Traffic is much less heavy, all the roads were in great condition and except in the mountains the roads were straight and you could see forever. We rented our vehicle from Enterprise. We have had good luck using them. Their rates are reasonable, they don't charge extra to have the spouse listed as a driver and the pickup and drop off procedures could not have been easier. We requested a full size premium auto. We received a 2019 6 cylinder Chevrolet Impala with 15,000 miles. We have not owned an American auto in over 30 years and now I remember why. The vehicle drove fine, a little soft for my preference but ok. It got great gas mileage, about 30 mpg and the power was sufficient. My complaints are as follows. It just wasn't comfortable, visibility was poor, wind noise was high and the climate control was pretty much non-existent. No matter what temperature you set the thermostat, you had to continually adjust it. It was a real pain.
Despite the above complaints, driving was really not a problem. Kay and I shared the driving pretty equally and neither of us got overly tired.
I had been planning the trip for almost a year and had all the destinations and times set and reservations made. We generally knew what we planned to do at each location, but everything was upto revision except the Durango-Silverton Railroad which I had booked ahead.
Here are a few statistics of our trip:
Miles driven - 4,488
States visited - 9
National Parks Visited - 11
National Monuments Visited - 7
National Forrest Passed thrugh - two many to count!
State Parks visited - 1
I normally do not maintain detailed records of expenses when we travel (mainly because I really don't want to know how much it costs!), but this time I did. This has to be one of the most economical trips we have ever made.
The cost of everything; food, airfare, auto rental, gas, parking fees, lodging and limo service to and from the airport, but not including small gifts we purchased averaged $275.00 per day. This was for the two of us, not individual. If I deduct the days we stayed in our timeshares and travel credits with our credit card company, the total per day cost was reduced to $198.00 per day. My guess is that if we had remained home, it would have cost at least 25% of this amount. This trip was a real bargain!
This is something we have been wanting to do for years. My biggest letdown, if you can say that, is that we simply cannot hike like we used to. There were so many great trails available for us on this trip it was difficult to choose. We found our limit on the "moderate trails" which include a fair amount of up and down and scrambling over rocks is about 5 miles a day. On level ground we can do quite a bit more, but there was not much level ground!
For you hikers reading this, I highly recommend the phone app "Alltrails". The basic version is free and the full version is about $15 per year and it is worth it if you do much hiking. When you are going to be out of internet or cell range you can download the trail maps and elevations and it still works with the phone gps.
Well, with this I will wrap up this blog. For those of you have stayed with me, thanks. I hope you have enjoyed traveling with us.
Until next time...