Part 10: Grand Junction, CO to Cody, WY


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The Trip

We did some much-needed shopping and tank service on Thor while in Grand Junction.  An expensive fill-up and trip to the grocery store got us what we needed and allowed us to continue on.  We noted, after a review of Google Maps, that GJ has a very nice bike trail system that follows the Colorado River banks.  We were a bit pressed for time on this trip,  but next time we are in the area, we will check out the trails with our electric unicycles.

The Photos

The photos below are what we saw.

North of Grand Junction, the road heads into the desert towards the Book Cliffs.  These cliffs are quite steep and the road that ascends them is quite challenging.

CO-139 heads directly over Douglas Pass and Thor was not liking it at all.  This road is steep and the road bed is slumping resulting in large cracks in the asphalt.  The path of the road can be seen in the photo above as it cuts a trace on the far cliff from right to left.

After struggling over Douglas Pass, CO-139 continues north toward Rangely.  This area along the highway is apparently a utility corridor.  Note the variety of electrical transmission towers in the photo above.

We had lunch in Rangely, CO at a little cafe by the highway.  The food was good and when we finished we turned west and headed toward Dinosaur, UT and then to Vernal, UT.  The Dinosaur monocline is visible in the photo above.  Note the sloping deformation of the rock layers.

Nothing like a cheesy pink dinosaur to get your attention.

We took on some fuel in Vernal and then headed north over the Uinita range toward Flaming Gorge Dam.  We were told by the cook at the lunch stop that the area had a very wet winter and plenty of spring rain too.  Steinaker Reservoir north of Vernal was full to the brim and the water had covered brush near the previous edge of the reservoir.

The areas north of Vernal showed remnants of the geologic trauma it had suffered in the past.  Note the curving uplift in the rock layers.

It is hard to put a smiley face on the destruction done by surface mining.  The Simplot Potash mine likely produces important products but the environmental cost is quite high.  Plus, it is just plain ugly.

We went over the Uinita Range via US-191 and then descended the north side down to the Flaming Gorge Dam on the Green River.  This arch bridge marks the start of the dam complex.

Thor was taking a breather after crossing the 8,000+ foot pass over the Uinta Mountains.

I had to put my camera over the fence to get an unobstructed view of the bridge.

An upstream view of the Flaming Gorge Dam.

This crane rolls on railroad tracks laid in the roadbed and is used to move heavy equipment at the dam site.

Flaming Gorge is a big dam and is 502 feet tall.  Back in the pre-9/11 days, Kathleen and I got a custom tour of the turbine compartment at the dam when I notified an employee of a flashing alarm light.  He said "You know anything about this stuff?".  I replied "I am an electrical engineer" to which he said "wanna see it up close?".  I am sure that would never happen these days, but he took us below the lower bearings of the turbines.  It was very cool, a one-of-a-kind experience.

Following the Green River north, US-191 heads up on a ridge that gave us a great view of the terrain north of Clay Basin.  We rolled north into Rock Springs, WY and Kathleen found us a free RV spot at the fairgrounds.  It was free in the sense that no monies were exchanged, but not free in that there were dirt track races and the noise and dust from the strong winds were the fee.

It was still blowing hard in Rock Springs the next morning when we departed.  We passed this antique north of Rock Springs on US-191.  When we hit Farson, we turned northeast and headed to South Pass and Atlantic City on WY-28.

We passed the Atlantic City mine near the top of South Pass.

On the Lander side of South Pass we spotted this nice red hogback that made a great contrast to the color of the green spring grass.

We turned north at Shoshoni and followed the Wind River Canyon to Thermopolis.  Near Boysen Dam a very steep access road allow the ability to service the power lines on the west side of the Wind River.

Boysen Reservoir was one of the many beneficiaries of the copious spring rains.  The reservoir was full.

In the Wind River Canyon, the railroad has the west side and the highway has the east side.

We drove hard for the rest of the day and finally arrived at Bob and Sandy's place late in the afternoon.  There was plenty of snow visible on Carter Mountain to the south of their ranch.  Everything was quite green from the rain.

North of Bob's ranch is "Castle Rock" which is the local name for this volcanic plug outcropping.

This doe elk was with her fawn.  Note the spots on the fawn's sides.

There were a number of elk visible grazing in the field.

Far past the boundary fence were more elk chowing down on the tall grass.  Cliffs of the Absaroka Range are visible in the background.

Small patches of snow persisted in the shaded areas of the Carter Mountain.

As an afterthought, I got a photo of Thor parked in the driveway.

Clouds from the previous night's storm persisted on flanks of Carter Mountain.

We stayed with Bob and Sandy for several days and then rolled north into Montana.

The West Slope of the Rockies has some awesome territory.  There are lots of miles to traverse to get there, but it is worth it.  We always enjoy our stays at the Lost Ranch on the South Fork of the Shoshone River.  Bob and Sandy are always gracious hosts.

Next, we continue north and west into Montana.

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