Tag Archive | travel

Virginia 2015: Arlington House

Day 3: Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Have you ever thought about how Arlington National Cemetery, that hallowed ground overlooking Washington, D.C. from the other side of the river, came to be?

Arlington House, the home on the site, was built by George Washington Parke Custis, George Washington’s adopted grandson, beginning in 1802. It was designed by George Hadfield, who had also designed the U.S. Capitol, and it was built in stages in the Greek Revival architectural style. The north wing (1802) and south wing (1804) were built first. Family members at the time would have had to cross outside in order to reach the other half of the house. The center section of the home wasn’t filled in until 1818. The estate was 1,100 acres, with many slaves.

A view of Arlington House in the distance at Arlington National Cemetery.

A view of Arlington House in the distance at Arlington National Cemetery.

Arlington was passed down through the Custis family, and became the home of Robert E. Lee between 1857 and 1861, when he departed to serve in the Civil War – Lee had married into the Custis family. Interestingly, Lee didn’t own it himself; his father-in-law left it to the Lee’s eldest son George Washington Custis Lee when he died in 1857, with stipulations that Lee’s wife, Mary Anna Custis Lee, be permitted to reside there for the remainder of her life.

Before Robert E. Lee took control of Arlington as executor of the estate, the property was not-profitable. His father-in-law had been more committed to leisure pursuits like painting – he was actually a quite accomplished amateur artist – than running a plantation. Lee was able to turn it around without selling off any of the slaves living on the estate; he believed that the sale of slaves would not be in keeping with the wishes of his father-in-law, who stipulated that the slaves there be emancipated within five years of his death. Lee executed that portion of the will, and even taught the slaves to read and write, in violation of the law, because he believed that it would better prepare them for freedom.

By all accounts, Robert E. Lee was a more disciplined master than his father-in-law had been, and the slaves resented it. Several of them attempted (unsuccessfully) to run away. Accounts differ on the severity of the punishment when they were recaptured.

After Lee departed for the war and his family for safer ground further south, the estate was used by Union General Irvin McDowell as his headquarters as he oversaw the troops protecting Washington. The grounds were used as a training ground and encampments for Union soldiers. In 1863, a Freedman’s Village was established there, in order to provide a place where emancipated and escaped slaves could establish themselves.

The North wanted to do more than just use the property. They wanted to punish Lee for his sin of taking up arms against them. So, Quartermaster General Montgomery C. Meigs proposed burying the fallen on the edges of Mrs. Lee’s rose garden – 22 graves in all. They wanted to make sure that Arlington was not a comfortable place to return.  In fact, Lee never did return to Arlington after the war. He was offered an appointment at what is now Washington and Lee University, and he is buried there. In 1874, George Washington Custis Lee sued the federal government for improper seizure of the home, and the Supreme Court agreed; he was awarded Arlington, and then sold it back to the government for $150,000.

Graves around the edge of Mary Lee's rose garden.

Graves around the edge of Mary Lee’s rose garden.

Arlington House was restored beginning in 1925, although in direct violation of the legislation that was passed, it was restored to the earlier time period of George Washington Custis, completely ignoring the contributions or legacy of Robert E. Lee. It wasn’t until 1955 that it was designated as a permanent memorial to Robert E. Lee, and the interpretation changed to the time when Lee lived in the house.

Visitation to Arlington House – the Robert E. Lee Memorial in 2011 was about 576,816; visitors can take a self-guided tour of the first floor of the house. The second floor of the house is currently closed, having suffered earthquake damage in 2011. The Park Service anticipates that the house will be closed for several months in 2016 while the damage is repaired.

I enjoyed our visit, although there were quite a few people roaming around. The home had guides in several of the rooms who pointed out interesting artifacts and answered questions. There were several paintings by Robert E. Lee’s father-in-law and his daughter (Robert E. Lee’s wife). There were several things original to the Lee family, including Robert E. Lee’s red upholstered settee and chairs.

Robert E. and Mary Lee's furniture in the parlor at Arlington House

Robert E. and Mary Lee’s furniture in the parlor at Arlington House

 

Lee's office, where he wrote the letter resigning his commission in the U.S. Army.

Lee’s office, where he wrote the letter resigning his commission in the U.S. Army.

 

The cradle were Lee was born - although not in this house.

The cradle where Lee was born – although not in this house.

We toured the garden to see the graves of the Union dead and the Tomb of the Unknown Civil War Soldier (that’s different than the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier).  I checked out the slave quarters, and an interesting display about Selina Gray, one of the slaves who served the Lee family. She helped to safeguard the various George Washington artifacts that had been passed down in the family, by complaining to the Union General stationed at Arlington when soldiers were stealing the valuables.

The Tomb of the Unknown Civil War Soldier - the remains of 2.111 Civil War unknown soldiers are buried here.

The Tomb of the Unknown Civil War Soldier – the remains of 2.111 Civil War unknown soldiers are buried here.

However, it is less known that Selina Gray and several of her children were instrumental in guiding the restoration process of Arlington House, due to her knowledge of the home and furnishings. They assisted with matching paint colors and obtaining period furniture, as well as determining where items should be placed in the home. Despite all this, the Park Service did not have a photograph of Selina Gray until a few years ago, when they were finally able to put a face to this important name in history.

The front of the house was covered in scaffolding during our visit, which didn’t make for great photos, but we were treated to a beautiful clear day so we could easily see the Washington Monument and the Capitol building. No wonder Lee loved it here; it is truly a spectacular view of Washington, D.C.

A view of the Washington Monument and the Capitol from Arlington House

A view of the Washington Monument and the Capitol from Arlington House

While we were at the cemetery, we also saw the tomb of Robert Todd Lincoln, Abraham Lincoln’s oldest son, the only one of his children to live long into adulthood. And no visit would be complete without a visit to John F. Kennedy’s grave. It is poignant in its simplicity – with the eternal flame and the four simple markers – JFK, Jackie, and the two children who died before him.

John F. Kennedy's grave - with the Eternal Flame.

John F. Kennedy’s grave – with the Eternal Flame.

I would have enjoyed wandering around more, but we needed to get to our next destination! George Washington’s Mount Vernon!

Have you been to Arlington National Cemetery? What was your favorite place there? 

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Virginia 2015: Gettysburg NMP

Day 2, October 5, 2015

Gettysburg today is a beautiful, quiet town in the Pennsylvania countryside.  But that peace was shattered for three days in July, 1863, when the Battle of Gettysburg resulted in the Civil War’s most costly battle in terms of human life.  Over 46,000 men were killed, wounded or missing in the three days of battle, and it forever changed this small, farming community.

Gettysburg National Military Park

Gettysburg National Military Park

After I had worked out our trip schedule for our Virginia trip, Jon decided he wanted to fit in a quick trip to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.  And before you tell me that the title of this blog says Virginia, but I’m roaming around in Pennsylvania, there’s a reason!  I decided to keep a consistent heading name for all my posts for this trip – even though we did a couple of detours outside of Virginia!  Gettysburg was only about 40 minutes away from where we were staying in Frederick, Maryland after all! If it were up to me, Gettysburg would never be a quick trip, but I had done the full battlefield tour (with audio tour) before, so I made my peace with doing Gettysburg on a smaller scale this time. Jon is just never going to be an audio tour kind of guy, and I have to accept that…

We got to Gettysburg around 9:30-10 am and did a quick stop at the Visitor’s Center for stamps and postcards. We decided not to see the museum and the movie (that part pained me…), so we could spend more time on the battlefield.  I still need to get back there and do that!

One of the hundreds of cannon that sit on the battlefield.

One of the hundreds of cannon that sit on the battlefield.

 

Another of the many statues featuring horses at Gettysburg.

Another of the many statues featuring horses at Gettysburg.

Jon wanted to see where Pickett’s Charge occurred, so we started there. We checked out the Angle and the High Water Mark, where the Union Army repulsed the Confederates on the last day of the battle. I was again amazed by the sheer insanity determination that must have been involved in sending those soldiers across a mile and a half of open field. Pickett’s troops, and the other divisions that participated in the charge, were decimated.  Standing there, it is easy to see why.

The Codori Farm was in the middle of Pickett's Charge on the third day of the battle in 1863. This barn is a replacement; the original was torn down in 1882. The farmhouse sustained damage from shelling during the battle.

The Codori Farm was in the middle of Pickett’s Charge on the third day of the battle in 1863. This barn is a replacement; the original was torn down in 1882. The farmhouse sustained damage from shelling during the battle.

Half of Pickett’s division was left dead or wounded on the field. The casualty rate for the men that reached the Angle was over 70 percent. When Pickett’s remaining troops made their way back to Seminary Ridge, Lee asked Pickett to organize his troops in the rear to prepare for a counter attack by the Union. Pickett reportedly replied, “General Lee, I have no division now.” Truer words were never spoken.

The Pennsylvania Monument is the largest monument on the battlefield; it also has interior stairs that lead you to the top of the monument for a bird’s eye view of many of the features of the battlefield.  I climbed to the top and surveyed the view; you can see a lot from up there!

The view from the top of the Pennsylvania Monument.

The view from the top of the Pennsylvania Monument.

 

A plaque marking directions and distances from the top of the Pennsylvania Monument

A plaque marking directions and distances from the top of the Pennsylvania Monument.

 

We also checked out Seminary Ridge, where General Lee staged the Confederate line. I do love the gigantic statue of Lee that has been placed as a monument on Seminary Ridge. He’s on a horse, so of course you know I love it!  I’m sure there are lots of people who would argue that it should be removed along with all the other Confederate statues, but I think there is a valid historical reason to leave them, and learn from the past. If we hide all traces of our past, how will people come to understand the complicated road we have traveled? But I digress…

A statue of Robert E. Lee on the battlefield.

A statue of Robert E. Lee on the battlefield.

 

Our last stop on the Gettysburg Battlefield that day was at Little Round Top, where Joshua Chamberlain, after defending the hill valiantly and running out of ammunition, ordered a fixed bayonet charge to repulse the Confederates charging up the hill from Devil’s Den. Before the Union Army defeated the charge, men were fighting hand to hand on the hill.

Looking down at Devil's Den from Little Round Top

Looking down at Devil’s Den from Little Round Top.

 

The rock strewn hillside and Devil’s Den’s, a bowl shaped collection of rocks at the base of Little Round Top, are much the way they were during the battle. You can still see where union troops created defensive walls using the existing large boulders, and the numerous smaller rocks on the hill. Chamberlain was the recipient of the Medal of Honor for his bravery on Little Round Top, 30 years after the war.

I found a toad on Little Road Top! He is an Eastern American Toad.

I found a toad on Little Road Top! He is an Eastern American Toad.

 

We also made one additional stop in Gettysburg – The Gettysburg National Cemetery.  I will post about it next!

Virginia 2015: Headed Out…

Day 1 – Sunday, October 4, 2015

Our first day of vacation was the usual assortment of logistics and fatigue. Jon’s cousin got married the day before we flew out, so we were out late partying with family. We crashed at our friend’s house and he graciously agreed to give us an early morning ride to the airport. He had to be at work at 6 am, so we were up before 5 and left about 5:15 for our 8 am flight. Check in and security were smooth, which left us with plenty of time to get breakfast at the airport.

We flew direct from Seattle to Baltimore, and our flight was long but uneventful.

Somewhere over the U.S.

Somewhere over the U.S.

I did get to listen to the following classic exchange between a boy and his mother:

Boy: I have to pee.

Mother: You just went.

Boy: I farted.  That means I have to poop. 

While I wasn’t overhearing stories about the bowel movements of strangers, I even managed to get a little bit of sleep.  We arrived at about 4:30, just a few minutes ahead of schedule, and grabbed our bag.  Picking up the rental car went smoothly, a silver Nissan Rogue which we really enjoyed, and we made our way to Frederick, Maryland, an hour long trip over clear highways. Frederick was our home for the first two nights of our trip.

Our fatigue made for a quiet night. We got dinner at a brewery near the hotel – Barley and Hops.  I would have guessed that it is a chain, but their website says they are locally owned. Jon had Mahi Mahi fish tacos and the Francis Scott Key IPA; I had Maryland crabcakes with sweet potato fries and Citrus Slam Session Pale Ale. The food was good, the bartender was friendly, and the brewery was pretty quiet on a Sunday night.

A quick trip to Target for snacks ended our wild evening, and we turned in early to get some much needed rest.  The next day was going to be a busy one!

 

Car Rental – Alamo – Small SUV (We had a Nissan Rogue).  Surprisingly, that was the least expensive class of car for this trip!

Total driving distance on Day 1: 49 miles – Baltimore International Airport – Frederick, MD

Hotel for the night: Sleep Inn, Frederick, MD – The hotel was nice; one door to the outside was not working, which was a little inconvenient.  Breakfast was good, and it was quiet.

Virginia 2015: A Trip is Born…

A trip to Virginia had been brewing for awhile. The historic sites!  The Presidential homes!  The Civil War connection.  It was my turn to choose a vacation in 2013 (yes, 2013, you read that correctly), and I wanted to go to Virginia. Jon and I trade off on choosing our big vacation each year; at least that is the intent.  So… In 2013, I had dates in March scheduled, and we were researching Virginia airfares, but something was nagging at me.

That something was a little 6 pound kitty named Martini, who had lymphoma. I couldn’t bring myself to fly cross country and leave her at home, knowing that she could decline or die without me by her side.  So, I kept procrastinating.  The same night, Jon and I came up with the idea to do a road trip to California instead – that way we could be home in a day if we needed to. As it turned out, we said our final goodbyes to our sweet girl before we left for that California trip…

Virginia was again on the docket for 2014 – until Jon’s cousin announced his wedding in Los Angeles. We wanted to make the best use of the flight to California, so we decided to forego Virginia again and do a scenic loop of the Southwest before the wedding. A fabulous choice that I don’t regret, but not Virginia.

I was determined to do Virginia in 2015 – I had been dreaming for three years about all the Presidential mansions and historic homes, about Appomattox Courthouse and other Civil War Battlefields.  I started a new job in January – which could have put a wrench in our plans, but fortunately a generous vacation package and some front loaded time meant that I could still do the trip.  Finally we were able to make it happen! After we got back from Colorado in August, I set to work planning the trip. We had almost two weeks; our longest vacation to date (by one day)!

I mapped and researched and connected the dots between our various wish list sites, finding the most convenient stopping points, and booking flights, a car, hotel rooms, and a boat tour! I wanted a more leisurely pace than we’d had in Colorado, with two night stays at several of our destination towns. Slowly it began to come together.

We would fly into Baltimore (that was the least expensive) and visit Harpers Ferry, Antietam, Arlington House, Mount Vernon, Shenandoah National Park, Appomattox Courthouse, Monticello, Ash Lawn Highland, Montpelier, the Fredericksburg Battlefield, the Hugh Mercer Apothecary, Mary Ball Washington House, George Washington Birthplace, Stratford Hall, Menokin, Jamestown, Yorktown, and finish off at the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge. Still ambitious, but workable.

Our route would look something like this - darn you Google Maps for only allowing 10 places!

Our route would look something like this – darn you Google Maps for only allowing 10 places!

Jon decided at the last minute that he wanted to see Gettysburg, so we traded that for Antietam. And oh, by the way, could we possibly fit in some time on the Blue Ridge Parkway?

The next series of vacation posts will be our Virginia Road Trip – October 4 – 16, 2015.  I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Colorado 2015: Hiking Great Sand Dunes NP

Day 5: August 5, 2015

Our visit to Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve started out on the right foot.

The entrance to Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve

The entrance to Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve

With Pronghorn!  On the long country road on our way into the park, we saw a herd of Pronghorn! I have been thwarted in my many attempts to get photos of Pronghorn over the last couple of years – unfortunately they are tough to photograph at 60 mph from a car. But this time, we were able to pull over and see them from a standstill! They weren’t super-close, but they were watching us curiously while I took photos with my zoom.

There was a whole line of Pronghorn, watching us, watch them...

There was a whole line of Pronghorn, watching us, watch them…

We proceeded on to the Visitor’s Center to fill our water bottles and use the restroom, but didn’t look at the exhibits at that point because we wanted to get out hiking before it got too hot.

I finally got photos of Pronghorn!

I finally got photos of Pronghorn!

Jon and I decided to hike up Star Dune, which is the second-tallest dune in the park; Star Dune is 699 feet tall and the hike is about 3 miles round trip. We left at about 10:40 am – hiking though the flat section of the dune field, across Medano Creek, which was about an inch deep and meandered in a wide path across the sand. Jon’s parents joined us for this portion of the hike and some pictures, before breaking off and doing their own thing once it got more strenuous.

Jon and me at the beginning of our hike to the top of Star Dune - 699 feet tall and the second tallest dune in the park.

Jon and me at the beginning of our hike to the top of Star Dune – 699 feet tall and the second tallest dune in the park.

We began hiking up the dune, and it quickly turned tough in the soft sand. It was definitely a challenging hike; we had to stop multiple times and rest while climbing the steep dunes! I’ll be honest; I was driving the rest breaks much more frequently than Jon.  On the hike we saw several patches of prairie sunflowers growing in the sand – it was interesting to see them growing without any soil!

A Prairie Sunflower growing in the sand.

A Prairie Sunflower growing in the sand.

A whole field of Prairie Sunflowers

A whole field of Prairie Sunflowers

Once we reached the top of the dune, we posed for photos and sat in the sand, resting and admiring the view.

Partway through the hike - the view back towards Medano Creek and the

Partway through the hike – the view back towards Medano Creek and the “trail head.”

After resting, we made our way back down the dune. The hiking was way easier going down! We didn’t stick to the “trail” on the way down, instead sinking into the deep sand on the sides of the dunes. It was like being a little kid again! I understood why rangers tell you to wear closed shoes in the summer; when the sand hit my leg it was getting quite warm, and it wasn’t a super-hot day.

Someone wrote a message in the sand - We are not alone...

Someone wrote a message in the sand – We are not alone…

We checked out the Visitor’s Center and I got my passport stamp and postcards – plus I got a cute bumper sticker proclaiming that I hiked Star Dune! 699 feet! Jon just rolled his eyes.  We had a picnic lunch that day near the Visitor’ Center, at a nice picnic area with some shade. We did encounter a few little biting flies, and a relatively well-behaved church group of teenagers.

We tried to hike a little bit near Medano Creek, but at that point it was getting pretty hot and there were lots of little gnats flitting around, so we decided to quit while we were ahead.

And with that, it was time to say goodbye to Great Sand Dunes National Park…

Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve History

What would your answer be if you were asked where are the highest sand dunes in North America? If you said Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, you would be right!

Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve protects a total of 85,932 acres of sand dunes, grasslands, coniferous and deciduous forests, alpine lakes and tundra habitat. It was originally designated as a National Monument on March 17, 1932, and was upgraded to a National Park on September 13, 2004 by Congress and George W. Bush. Interesting, the fact that the sand contains consistent moisture, just a few inches below the surface, played a large role in the efforts to achieve National Park and Preserve status. The residents of this area of high desert Colorado have a vested interest in protecting available water sources.

The entrance to Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve

The entrance to Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve

The tallest dunes in the park are 750 feet tall, and were formed as a result of westerly winds picking up particles of dirt and sand, then dropping them on the eastern edge of the Sangre de Christo valley as the wind loses power before crossing the Sangre de Christo Mountains. Geologists believe the dunes began forming around 440,000 years ago.

From the top of Star Dune - dunes almost as far as the eye can see.

From the top of Star Dune – dunes almost as far as the eye can see.

Annual precipitation on the dunes averages 11 inches per year, which puts it just above a true desert habitat (10 inches or less), but it still qualifies due to the high rate at which water evaporates. Summer temperatures can exceed 95 degrees Fahrenheit, and winter lows go down below zero. Snow is rare though, due to the dry climate.

The preserve designation is unique for National Parks in the lower 48; Great Sand Dunes does permit hunting in the preserve area of the park. Bow hunting is common, and hunters are permitted to use tracking dogs to hunt mountain lions, provided that the dogs are leashed until the animal is spotted and being pursued.  That seems pretty cruel to me, so I try not to think about it…

A wide variety of wildlife make their home in the park and preserve, including mountain lion, black bear, pronghorn, bighorn sheep, beavers, badgers, bison, snakes, lizards, several species of fish, eagles, falcons, owls and other birds. The park even has at least seven species of endemic insects.

I finally got photos of Pronghorn!

I finally got photos of Pronghorn!

There is also lots to do for visitors to the park, including camping, hiking, sandboarding (yep – you can slide down the dunes on a sandboard!), sand castle building and skimboarding on the shallow and ever changing Medano Creek.

The park also has one other unique feature – a distinction on something that is absent from the park – noise. Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve is the quietest National Park in the contiguous 48 states. What a fabulous place! And we were headed there on our trip!

Have you been to Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve? I’ll tell you about our visit next!

Colorado 2015: Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

Day 4: August 4, 2015

Have you ever heard of the Gunnison River and Black Canyon of the Gunnison? I don’t blame you if you haven’t – I really hadn’t either until a couple of years ago. But after hearing about a canyon that rivals the Grand Canyon in terms of its awe-inspiring beauty – I knew I had to see it.

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park has two main roads, one on each rim of the canyon. Driving to the other rim is about a 90 minute trip, because you have to go outside the park and drive around. We chose to visit the South Rim, based on what worked for our trip route, which has a Rim Road that is about 6 miles long with several viewpoints along the way.

A view of the Gunnison River

A view of the Gunnison River

We went to the Visitor’s center, which has a fabulous view of the Canyon from an overlook. Jon and I also went on a 2 mile hike, the Oak Flat Loop Trail, which took us through stands of Gambel Oak trees, and descends a short distance into the canyon. It gave a great perspective on what the canyon walls look like from below. At one point of the trail, there is a sheer wall of granite – you can look up and see the sparkly rock, and see the swifts leaving and returning to their nests high above.

A butterfly on the Oak Flat Loop Trail.

A butterfly on the Oak Flat Loop Trail.

After our hike, we did the scenic drive, and stopped at several of the viewpoints, which have overlooks between 100 and 600 yards from the parking areas. Each viewpoint has a sign marking how far the walk is. Each overlook offers something different, showing various features of the geology of the canyon.

Rock formations at Black Canyon

Rock formations at Black Canyon

The Pulpit Rock Overlook has a unique rock formation jutting out into the canyon, giving a great view of the river.  Another of the overlooks, the Painted Wall overlook, gives a view of the Painted Wall to those who are willing to walk the 200 yards, which at 2,250 feet is the tallest cliff in Colorado, and 1,000 feet taller than the Empire State Building.

The Painted Wall with its unique features.

The Painted Wall with its unique features.

The view of the river below the Painted Wall

The view of the river below the Painted Wall

The last overlook on the South Rim Road is at Warner Point; it offers a 1373 yard hike (about 1.5 miles round trip), to a panoramic viewpoint.  In one direction, you can see the canyon, in the other, you get a spectacular view of the farmland outside the park.  Jon and I really enjoyed ourselves on this hike, and we were virtually alone the whole time!

A view of distant farmland from the Warner Point Trail

A view of distant farmland from the Warner Point Trail

After hiking the overlooks, we decided to take the 5 mile road down to the Gunnison River.  The road is extremely steep, with over a 16% grade, so we had to shift into low gear and take it slow (it did take us a little while to figure out how to get the rental car into the lowest gear).

Once at the river, we sat for a little while and relaxed, watching a fly fisherman further up the river.  Only catch and release is permitted.  We also saw a small branch floating down the river, and when it got just past us I realized it was actually a river otter!  I didn’t get any pictures though, because I was caught completely by surprise.

A fly fisherman in the Gunnison River.

A fly fisherman in the Gunnison River.

We had a fabulous day in Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, taking in the amazing views, and spending some time hiking along the rim.  Jon would like to see the south rim as well, but that will have to wait for another trip.

We couldn’t stay at the park too late, because we still have quite a long drive ahead of us – we were going to be visiting Great Sand Dunes National Park the next day.  We had dinner on the road, at the Blue Mesa Grill in Gunnison, which had an assortment of dishes.  I mixed and matched my dinner, with a Philadelphia sushi roll with mango and a cup of Baked Potato soup.  Jon had a Tuna roll, and shared his dad’s burger.  It hit the spot!

My Philadelphia Roll and Baked Potato Soup at the Blue Mesa Grill

My Philadelphia Roll and Baked Potato Soup at the Blue Mesa Grill

Obligatory pic at the Continental Divide

Obligatory pic at the Continental Divide

On the rest of the drive, we saw lots of magpies and rabbits, plus two bighorn sheep!  No photos though, as it was dusk and we were moving at a good clip along the highway.  What a great day!

Total driving distance on Day 4: 195 miles – Montrose – Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park – Alamosa
Hotel for the night: Super 8, Alamosa – dated, strange room configuration, smokers right outside our window (YUCK!), decent breakfast.