Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Eastward ho!

Our trip from Denver to Beattyville, KY was a great 4 day adventure. During the first day we traveled from the foothills of the Rocky Mountains to the Great Plains. Eastern Colorado and western Kansas are flat ranch / farm country. There isn't a whole lot of cool and spectacular scenery. We decided that after crossing the border to stop at the tourist information center rest area. Here we learned of a place to stay 7 miles west of Salina, KS. Sundowner West was a peaceful rural setting where I could take the dogs for a good long walk and we slept peacefully. The price for a full hookup was very reasonable, but the facility could use updating.

About an hour into our drive, Tony pulled into a rest area and I took over the drive. The last time I had driven while towing the trailer was when we drove back from picking it up in Lincoln, NE. Tony had driven all summer due to my lack of courage to drive on the narrow winding roads near Rifle. Thankfully the freeway was straight and the traffic light. The truck makes the task easy, but I was quite nervous for my two hour stint at the wheel. The crazy thing about our drive that day is that I-70 is a toll road for a portion! We got to the toll booth and the attendant announced that we owed $4.25. The collective cash in the truck was $4.11. Upon hearing that news, the attendant told that Visa was accepted. Thank goodness! Otherwise we would have needed to get into the trailer to get money.

The goal for day 2 on the road was to make it to St. Louis, MO. We rolled out of Sundowner West and continued east. The plan was to stay in the KOA southwest of St. Louis and then spend a day playing tourist. The plains of western Kansas gave way to rolling forested hills of eastern Kansas and Missouri. I got the section of driving through Kansas City. Now, if you have made that drive recently you know it is a nightmare of branching interstates under construction. My palms were sweating as I drove slowly through the narrow construction zones and drove the truck from right to left and back again as I-70 split and wandered.

Five miles from our destination, traffic came to a halt. The freeway was closed due to a big accident. The detour took us 2 stressful hours. Tony had to drive on a 4 lane road that was really a major surface road. The road was narrow and the other drivers crazily darted in front of us either from the other lane or from side roads. To our amazement there was signage stating ‘Share the Road’! No cyclist in their right mind would ride along that road. We arrived well after dark and after the front office had closed and had to find our way through the campground to a site. Purely by accident we landed a choice secluded site. The humidity was high and all sorts of night insect noises echoed through the trees. It rather reminded me of Costa Rica, toned down just a bit.

The next day we started slowly. After paying for a second night we loaded our bicycles into the truck and headed to downtown St. Louis. We parked for the arch and mounted our trusty mountain bikes and cruised through the park to the arch. After touring the free attractions we peddled the trail along the Mississippi river. We didn’t see much of the river because of the huge flood walls separating the trail from the river front. The trail crossed the river (and Illinois state line) on a dedicated bike/pedestrian bridge. Lacking courage to explore we returned to where we parked. Along the way we got a good view of the local shanty tent town. Near a pop up tent trailer a handmade sign read ‘Welcome to failure is not an option’.

Day three objective was to travel into Kentucky. We made it to Shelbyville, KY, the home of the American Saddlebred horse. After a little searching online we discovered that Lake Shelby offered camping for a very reasonable rate. Turns out that Lake Shelby is managed by the city and on the outskirts of town that is part of a larger complex of city parks. It was a nice quiet rural like setting where the dogs again got to sniff lots and stretch their little legs.

The last day was to be short and easy. Ha! Tony used his navigation software ‘(aka Betty) to provide directions. The way outlined by Betty was shorter! Well, the first warning was a sign ‘One Way Tunnel’ followed by the sign’ 11’2”. The trailer is 13’6”. Tony had to do some fancy backing to turn around on a blind corner. Just as we got set to pull out a railroad employee pulled up and told us to follow him. (It was a RR tunnel we couldn’t get through.) He took us the back way around and off we were on very narrow, steep and winding roads. Finally we arrived at our home for the next six weeks, Lago Linda Hideaway.

About a month earlier I had requested a 30amp site to be reserved for us. First Tony tried to back into it but due to my insufficient directions we decided against that. He got us turned around and pulled into the site but the power was too far from the trailer plug in. So we drove out to the main road and turned around. It was a tight squeeze between the trees, but we pulled into the site and got set up.

Let the climbing begin!

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