Small-town America is full of surprises, most of them pleasant. Having landed up in Hotchkiss in order to remain dry, we were ready to be unimpressed. The hotel didn't look like much but as we settled in we started to appreciate what we had. The room was large and the mattress was good. The laundry was adjacent to our room and well equipped. It was very clean and it was quiet. It was with in walking distance of a supermarket and places to eat. The lady who checked us in was pleasant and helpful, as were the other folk in the town (perhaps village is more accurate) that we had dealings with. Dinner was good and reasonably priced as was breakfast over the road. We could easily have had the hotel's continental breakfast but limited ourselves to filching a couple of hard boiled eggs as we left.
It is quite often women who own and run many of these hospitality establishments and they are hardworking and often cheerful, although some are quite brusque as they seek to turn a dollar. No one has been rude, not in the slightest.
There are so many tourists in the USA these days that we do not attract much attention, although the mention of the bike trip will more often evoke interest. It is usually other bikers, or merely those with an interest in bikes, who will wander over and ask where we are from, or merely to admire the bike and chat.
We were on the bike at the usual time of 8 am and although sunny, it was rather cool. The scenery was very pretty as we have come to expect; and the rivers that run by the roads for mile after mile are such a feature of much of the America we have seen thus far. We passed through the coal mining village of Somerset, and I was interested to see a lengthy coal train. I wondered if any of the trucks were financed by ANZ Bank, my employer. I hope many! As the miles unfolded, I was reminded of a comment made some months ago by my work colleague Paul W, who has been on a few bike rides in the US. He had said that riding in Colorado was fantastic. This morning, in the sunshine, I understood: mile after mile of winding roads, in between soaring mountains and tumbling rivers. It really felt good.
After a bit over an hour we pulled in to another coal town, Carbondale. Despite its rather unprepossessing name, it was exceptionally neat and tidy and the main street very attractive. After a decent cappuccino, Liz got into traffic engineering mode and took a photo which appears on the People and Places page and which she also posted on Facebook. Yes, well!
Soon after we reached Glenwood Springs, much larger, but as neat. That took us onto the I90 to head east for a number of miles. As usual, the road followed a river - the Colorado - and it took us through the soaring mountains. How impressive! How beautiful! There are sections where the interstate in the opposite direction is elevated, and it is attractively done, even if I say so and I am no engineer.
We turned off north and once again enjoyed a quiet country road with wide, sweeping bends through a landscape of lower relief and varying vegetation. We crossed the Colorado at a point and went left as per the GPS instructions, but in the corner of my eye I saw a sign which said "Kremmling 32". As the GPS said 52 miles, I wanted to check this out and so turned back. This dot on the map is called State Bridge and is a destination for whitewater rafting and other river-based activities. The sign was correct, so we dismounted and looked for someone to make enquiries of. While I was looking around Liz took it easy in the sun :-)
No one was around so we looked at the map and consulted each other. The short road is designated a Scenic Byway and I was all for taking it, but Liz pointed out it was gravel. Liz prevailed. We took out our boiled eggs and munched them in the warm sun for a few more minutes. Very pleasant and relaxing.
Back on the bike and Oops! The clouds have come up! We recognized them from the day before and so I opened up a bit with the intention of getting to Kremmling before the rain did. We passed by some stretches where it had already rained but made it to the town with only a couple of drops on the way.
Over a rather decent and cheap lunch we decided we would not press on as we would surely get wet again. Recourse was had to the internet and we landed up finding a place (our second choice) where we got the last room with its own bathroom. The Estin Hotel is 107 years old and is slowly being refurbished while endeavoring to retain the period feel. They are succeeding and it is rather pleasant. As we left the restaurant, the heavens opened, but the hotel was just a couple of hundred yards away and we barely got damp.
Tomorrow we will indeed, DV, get to the Rocky Mountain National Park.