2011 NY to California, Cross Country Drive, Drives

NY to California 2011 via Lincoln Highway – Day 8 – Boulder Colorado to Vernal Utah

Total Distance: 541.09 km (336.2 mi)
Total Time: 11:20:50
Moving Time: 7:23:20
Average Speed: 47.68 km/h (29.6 mi/h)
Average Moving Speed: 73.23 km/h (45.5 mi/h)
Max Speed: 137.20 km/h (85.2 mi/h)
Min Elevation: 1433 m (4703 ft)
Max Elevation: 3691 m (12110 ft)
Elevation Gain: 4527 m (14853 ft)
Max Grade: 13 %
Min Grade: -11 %

White knuckles and Coyotes

With so little time spent in Boulder and so many world renowned breweries still unvisited it was difficult to leave Boulder. Unfortunately we had many miles to make up for since we dawdled the first few days of the trip.

It was not long before the imposing vista of the rocky mountains became more clear as we got closer. Mountains of this size to someone who lives on the east coast of the USA are a stunning sight since we have little more then hills. Our first stop for some espresso was the town of Estes Park. It’s a typical modern and clean Colorado city full of collage kids and aging hippies. It is also home to the Stanley Inn hotel that was Stephen Kings inspiration for the “Overlook” in his novel “The Shining”. I attempted to park in front for a photo but was told I would have to pay $5 to enter the gate!

A few miles away from this very busy town was the entrance to the Rocky Mountain National Park. Driving in you are charge $20 for a week long pass regardless if you just driving through or not.  Stunning beauty and an endless line of SUVs greeted us as we started to ascend the single lane road. Unfortunately the speed we were forced to travel was too fast for 2nd gear and to slow for 3rd so much shifting ensued. We slowly climbed the long twisting road seemingly for hours. The tempture steadily dropped as the air got thinner.  The sidewalls and guardrails disappeared as did the shoulder leaving us with a quick and quite bumpy decent if we inadvertently veered off the road.   A few miles from the peak with us stuck behind a very slow moving truck towing a gigantic caravan, the super was starting to struggle with the lack of real air.  I attempted to keep the revs as high as I could but with the constant stopping thanks to the man who thought it would be a good idea to drag his house up a mountain, it was quite difficult.  Just when I thought the super would choke out, the road started to descend and we were able to pass and seek more oxygen. 14,000 feet is too much for carburetors!

Steamboat Springs was our lunch stop and again, we found a new city filled with kids, old hippies and now some ranchers. Little did we know this would be our last view of civilization for many hours as we headed west on Route 40 through the western part of Colorado and into Utah.  It was quite a stunning drive on a seemingly endless road.  Driving over each road crest, only presented us with another ribbon of asphalt that disappears into the horizon. This occurred so many times that only the various wildlife running across the road broke the monotony. The old town of Vernal UT was our stop as the sun set. Two more hours of that never-ending road in the dark was not welcomed.

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