Follow by Email

Visitor Count

Monday, 5 July 2010

Day 3: WVC to Grand Junction Colorado

After an overnight stay with our good friends the Hellewells, of whom more later, we set off early to drive five hours to Grand Junction, Colorado.  As we left the urban sprawl behind, Route 6 took us towards a mountain pass.

We were pleased to see a wind farm at the West end of the pass, taking advantage of the near-constant winds.

At our highest point on the whole journey, we were 1.4 miles above sea level (1 mile = 5280 feet). We didn't notice the thinner air just breathing, but our gas mileage improved dramatically during the trip.  

In the car I had two bags of Cheetos Puffs, purchased in Eugene at 400 feet elevation. One bag burst close to the summit of the pass, giving us a shock and a giggle. The second, puffed up like an overstuffed pillow, survived until we were descending into Utah the next day, when it gave up the ghost with a sigh. The Hellewell children made short work of the contents.

Descending rapidly from the pass into the high plains, the road stretches ahead with an arrow straight precision.

At a rest stop we took some panoramas of the scene. It was 95 degrees Farenheit, but very dry with some light wind, so it felt cooler. This combination can be very dangerous to the unwary because sweat evaporates instantly and people don't realise how much they are dehydrating. Dessicated corpses are occasionally  found carrying full water bottles.

By 2pm we arrived in Grand Junction, and checked into a Rodeway Inn. We were happy to get some relief from the now 100 degree heat, though we had dropped to a mere 4600 feet elevation. The sun blazed down from a clear sky, the only shade was created by buildings and trees. Grand Junction was named for the convergence of the Grand and Gunnison rivers, and in this arid land became the largest township for miles.

In 1921 the Govenor of Colorado had the Grand River renamed the Colorado River, which previously started only when the Grand River met the Green River further downstream at Moab in Utah. This saved Colorado the embarrassment of being named for a river that didn't actually run through the state, but also made a nonsense of the town's name of Grand Junction. The town still lies in the Grand Valley which was not renamed, and due to urban growth between the town and the airport to the north, now occupies most of the valley. This provides splendid views of Mountains all round the town.

Our reason for choosing Grand Junction as the furthest point of our trip was to see Mack and Joan Hoover, old friends of Beth's, who were also giving her a spare lathe to get her workshop started.  Mack is the creator Hoover Whistles , which are much sought after for their sweet tone, and are played at least as far afield as Miltown Malbay in Co. Clare, Ireland. Mack showed us his workshop, and demonstrated the eccentricities of this particular lathe for Beth. I left them to it, and went back to the Motel for a rest, returning later in the evening to help load the lathe, now in pieces, into the station wagon.


  1. Very interesting. I also have a Garmin Nüvi, but have not been anywhere with it that invited the use of the altitude feature. (thus I've never noticed it.) Will have to check my altitude just for fun now.

    I'm very familiar with the dry air/rapid dehydration syndrome, as when we visit my BIL, who lives across CO in Boulder, he is pushing water on us nonstop. (You also enjoy that lovely clear vista of mountains surrounding the town--The Flatirons, in the case of Boulder.)

    Although Boulder is only 5400 ft, we took the (somewhat nearby) cog railway up to Pikes Peak in Colorado Springs a few years ago. At 14,000+ ft in altitude, Pikes Peak is about the dizziest I've ever been on while on solid ground. They have an Oxygen bar inside by the gift shop, so that you can re-orient your brain sufficiently that you'll remember to buy tchotchkes.

  2. Something else that the wide-open spaces of the American west reminded me of: One of my college roommates, Tomoko, was from Japan. (her father was a Toyota exec. or something.) I did an Asian cooking workshop in which she was one of the instructors, and our group had its end-of-session party at the home of a local older couple, in the countryside surrounding central Ohio. We stood on their patio looking out at the gentle hills stretching out all around and Tomoko noted how you'd NEVER see such a space in Japan. A vista for miles, with no other homes in sight. So many people, so little real estate in Japan, relatively. And that was just Ohio.

  3. There's two ways to get to the elevation reading - either tap on the car symbol, or for a constant readout tap on the right hand box nexst to menu. I never knew it was there either, until Beth told me.

  4. Love these entries, M! Fascinating reading and beautiful pics. Makes me feel like we're taking the trip with you.