Tuesday, 6 December 2016

The Road Trip North - Day 5. Grand Junction to Craig via The Colorado National Monument and a nearly show storm.

A slightly slower start to the day today, we left the motel at about 8:30AM after finishing last night’s Pad Thai, the tofu having frozen in the night. An unhealthy start to the day, not helped by the truck outside our window running his engine for what seemed like an eternity at 6:30AM outside our window, sending his toxic diesel fumes right into our room.

We have been spoilt with spectacular scenery for the last 4 days, so the Colorado National Monument had a lot to live up to. It really held its own, and was even more enjoyable to explore as it was pretty much deserted, and we didn’t meet any other travellers on the trails. Another crisp and sunny day to overlook the orange, green and white landscape, me wrapped up in most of the clothes I own, and Michael just in a t-shirt. The view back into a dusty looking Grand Junction was nice too, though incredibly the noise from the Interstate visible in the distance spoiled the peace of the canyons. Michael spotted a Cotton Tail rabbit but sadly there were no Big Horn Sheep to be found.

After lunch we headed north again, anxious that the weather could turn and wary that a big storm is due in a few days. We had pre-booked a motel in Craig,  CO, which is about halfway to our next destination, Casper WY. The first half of the three hour drive was done in glorious sunshine, and then the grey clouds appeared in the distance and we hoped we weren’t heading into a storm. As soon as we turned left at Rifle, everything changed, the sun disappeared and visibility dropped. There were a few flurries of snow, the wind picked up and the temperature dropped to 16℉. On either side of the road the hills were covered in deep snow; even the rivers were half frozen, and the lakes frozen solid. We felt sorry for the cows and horses we passed. The visibility improved but everything still felt grey and ominous.

The roads stayed clear and the snow stayed away, and after a slight detour due to Google Maps getting an address wrong we were in to our room and cranking up the heat, trying to decide which of Craig’s many pizza restaurants we would visit that night.