Summer Road Trip 2018, Part 1: Dallas to Montrose
August. Time to hit the road.
Olympic National Park in Washington State is the main objective for 2018.
Why Olympic? Well, it's a National Park I've never visited, so that checks off the most basic requirement. I've heard good things . The pictures also seem to have an etherial quality, so I'm excited about the photographic opportunities as well.
So Olympic as the impetus seemed like a solid plan. Its Proximity to North Cascades. Rainer, and Crater Lake National Parks sealed the deal. The Northwest is a great choice for 2018.
Being from Dallas means Washington State isn't close. I've planned for 3 weeks but maximizing time up there is still important. I didn't want to start my trip with a 2,400-mile marathon to Washington so the 2018 road trip actually began a week earlier.
I decided to drive Ellie as far as Boise the weekend before, banking 24 hours of drive time in the process. My plan was to get Ellie up there, fly home to Dallas, work the week, then fly back to Boise after work on Friday.
Any unforeseen delays associated with preparation and leaving town would be eliminated all together. The big advantage will be starting from Boise with my truck in striking distance of Washington State, on day 1.
I decided to leave town on Thursday evening. Traffic would be lighter and I'd get in 8 hours of driving. Traffic was mercifully light leaving the DFW metroplex. Before long, I was out of town and on my way.
I'd take US 287 northwest to Amarillo, then follow it north through Stratford and across the Texas-Oklahoma state line.
I continued on US 287 through Boise City (no relation to the destination) and across the Oklahoma-Colorado state line. It's always a nice feeling to officially enter Colorado.
I slept the first night in the Comanche National Grasslands. The next morning, I woke up early and got back on the road. I continued north into Springfield before turning west toward Trinidad.
I needed to work before moving on from Trinidad, so I spent the day parked and working while connected with a Verizon MiFi. With work wrapped up, I was free to push on through central Colorado.
From Trinidad I took 1-25 north to catch CO 69 towards Westcliffe. Exiting I-25 at Red Rock Rd. brought me to an interesting single lane tunnel that served as an underpass for the interstate.
I was parked at the tunnel's entrance preparing to take a photograph when I looked up and saw a Colorado State Police car, seemingly suspicious of a car loitering under an secluded interstate underpass. I immediately got out and told the officer I was there to get a picture of my vehicle in the tunnel.
I told him, "You just don't see a lot of one-lane tunnels anymore."
He laughed, said okay, waved goodby and continued on his way.
I continued on through Gardner toward Westcliffe. Somewhere before Westcliffe I saw a sign I hadn't seen before. Apparently on this stretch of CO-69, the Custer Country line is also the Promontory Divide.
What is a Promontory Divide? A promontory is a bluff, or part of a plateau (or ridge in this case), overlooking a lowland.
So the Promontory Divide is basically a ridge that divides two counties.
I stopped to get gas from my favorite Sinclair at the intersection of CO-69 and US-50. This part of Colorado is my stomping ground. Turning onto US-50 always feels like I've arrived in the mountains.
Time constraints meant I'd continue on through Salida without stopping. I really wanted to pull in somewhere for a bite to eat but I was focused on camping near Montrose. It was getting dark soon and that was still a few hours away.
It was late when I crossed over Monarch Pass but I was determined to get a photo of Ellie crossing over it. With that done, it was time to get down the other side, through Gunnison, and into a campsite somewhere before Montrose.
There were a few options for camping as I approached Montrose. Picking one felt random. I decided to check out a campground in the Curecanti National Recreation Area. It was very busy. Most sites were occupied by RVs pulling boats.
It wouldn't have been my first choice but they had an open site in the very back, so I took it.
The next morning I got up early to make breakfast and get an early start. I was about to visit the first National Park of my 2018 Road Trip.