USA SOUTHWEST 1990

Driving from Denver, going west..

 

My parents firmly planted the 'travelling bug' into my genes; when I was a child we travelled for the summer holidays to the Alps, Italy and Yugoslavia every year, come what may.
My first summer trip without my parents in the driving seat was on bicycle, to England with a friend of mine.
When I started earning a monthly income my travels took me across the Atlantic, to the USA, a number of times. Even in my early schooldays I was fascinated by the national parks and history of the 'Old West'.

In 1990 the opportunity arose to take my parents to the USA, to what I considered at the time to be the most beautiful part of the US: the Southwest.
We flew a Martinair DC-10, flight MP701, on May 24th to Detroit (DTW) and spent the night; after our arrival we made a quick visit to the Henry Ford Museum, to overcome something of the jetlag (which my parents had never experienced before).
The next day we took a very early flight, on Midway Airlines, via Chicago Midway Airport (MDW), to Denver,CO. In 1990 Denver-Stapleton was still in use.
Go Vacations had booked us in a La Quinta motel; at the time I balked at the price: usd 52, per double room... That afternoon we had a brilliant visit to Denver's Museum of National History.
The next day this trip started for real: GOING WEST!

 

USA Southwest 1990
We'd booked a campervan with Go Vacations, but found we'd arrived too early and the RV hadn't been prepared for us yet; but things were solved very satisfactorily: they had us driven into town in this stretched limo and picked us up two hours later. That was out of this world, esspecially for my parents!
We spent time in a Mall, I think it was called Tabor Center.

USA Southwest 1990 
Well, things got under way. It took a bit of time to get acqainted with the RV. We left in rain showers, but that quickly improved. Go Vacations had provided us with 'KOA' and 'Good Sam' guidebooks, so we were well documented. Our first stop was at 'Chief Hosa Campground', also arranged by Go Vac's Mike Mikel: a belated thank you for all the cooperation received in realizing this rental.

 

 

USA Southwest 1990
My parents: Jan & Hilde Leeuw. They would find I had planned so many things typical of the United States, it would make their head spin!
My father was always 'awol' at the campground, in search of someone to talk to; when he was asked where he'd be heading to next, he always replied: "I don't know, you would have to ask my son, the tourguide!"

USA Southwest 1990
With a choice of going to 'Nederland' and Central City', the choice was obvious: Central City.
Nederland we'd come from..

USA Southwest 1990

A population of 30,000 during the summer months and a population of 1500 during the winter months...
But that's only part of the early history of Central City.
Founded in 1859, it soon acquired the reputation of being in the middle of 'the richest square mile on earth'. By the end of its second year, most of the placer gold was gone which forced hard rock mining into being. As it turned out, that's were the money was, anyway.
Over speculation of some mining stocks created a real depression for a while but the area survived and had good years during the '70s and '80s.
Like most other mining towns of the era, Central City had its share of fires that ultimately resulted in brick being the material of choice with which to rebuild the town.
Not far from Denver, Central City is on highway 160 north of highway 40 west of Denver. A must see town.
Submitted by Henry Chenoweth, on
www.ghosttowns.com/states/co/centralcity.html

 

USA Southwest 1990
My father was an enthusiastic 'Super 8' filmer.

USA Southwest 1990
Normally I shy away from overly touristic stuff, but it was good fun here.

USA Southwest 1990

From Wikipedia:
Central City is a home rule municipality in Clear Creek and Gilpin counties in the U.S. state of Colorado, and the county seat of Gilpin County. The city population was 515 in the 2000 United States Census. The city is an historic mining settlement founded in 1859 during the Pike's Peak Gold Rush.
Many Chinese lived in Central City during the early days working the placer deposits of Gregory Gulch. They were forbidden work in the underground mines. Most of them are believed to have returned to China after making their stake.
The frontier gambler, Poker Alice, lived for a time in Central City and several other Colorado mining communities.

 

USA Southwest 1990
While the train at Central City hadn't started to run yet, we found the opportunity at Georgetown; actually, the train had just left but by driving fast to Silverplume we could get onboard.

USA Southwest 1990
Silver Plume was established in 1870 and was quite lively with a population of 2.000.
Much litigation and fighting was going on between the Pelican and the Dives, two mines on the same vein. The area was rich in gold, silver, lead, zinc, copper and granite. It truly was 'the Wild West' out here then.


 

 

USA Southwest 1990
We enjoyed the beautiful drive on the I-70, in awe of the fantastic scenery. We did not have the time to visit Aspen, Vail & Beaver Creek, but enjoyed the drive and fleeting glimpses of deer and even some big horn sheep.

USA Southwest 1990
Trucking among the serious 'big rigs'..
I was told that a month before our visit traffic had to deal with some serious snow here, crossing
'the Continental Divide'. The pass here is some 4.000m alt. The entire ski-area here has 53 mountains higher than 4.000 meter, Colorado has a mountainous area 6x larger than Switzerland.

USA Southwest 1990
Ami's Acres campground had cancelled the 'Good Sam' cooperation, so we had the pay a wopping $21.95 in full !
The entire evening was spent talking with our neighbours, which evidently is the advantage over stays in motels.

 

 

USA Southwest 1990
Another 'typical' store in the US; never actually stepped into one, must remedy that some day.]

USA Southwest 1990
A giant buffalo in Grand Junction.
Everything is bigger than life here in the USA, but small minded people live in every country.

USA Southwest 1990
A visit to the Dinosaur Valley Museum for the benefit of our son, Alexander.
At the time he was into dinosaurs big time, even made us read out of books on
dinosaurs. Believe me, that is not easy with names like Tyrannosaurus, Triceratops, etc.
Dinosaurs on Wikipedia

 

 

USA Southwest 1990
Sandstone formations on the Colorado Plateau.

USA Southwest 1990
We'd arrived at the first National Park of this trip: Colorado National Monument.

USA Southwest 1990
Camping is a unique experience here; would like to do it again some day, though it is more expensive than
renting a car and staying in motels. In later years I compromised and took a tent and campinggear with us.
A storm was brewing, but all we got was a lot of wind, no rain.

USA Southwest 1990
Men hard at work..
Note the dinosaurs on the table.

USA Southwest 1990

Colorado National Monument preserves one of the grand landscapes of the American West. Towering monoliths exist within a vast plateau and canyon panorama.
One can experience sheer-walled, red rock canyons along the twists and turns of Rim Rock Drive. But take your time, a visit here cannot be rushed.

 

USA Southwest 1990
I love taking pictures of dead trees..

USA Southwest 1990
The view is truly grand! Americans like to give awe-inspiring names, e.g. 'Cold Shivers Point' and 'Devil's Chair', but even without the names we were much impressed.

The Uncompahgre Plateau in western Colorado is a distinctive large uplift part of the Colorado Plateau. Uncompahgre is a Ute Indian word that describes the water: 'Dirty Water' or 'Rocks that make Water Red'.

The plateau, with an average elevation of 9,500 feet (2,900 m), rises from the Colorado River 4,600 ft (1,400 m) to Horsefly Peak 10,300 ft (3,100 m).
It continues on about 100 miles (160 km) southeast to the northwest margin of the San Juan Mountains.
Its boundaries are the San Miguel and Dolores Rivers to the west, the Colorado River to the north and the Gunnison and Uncompahgre Rivers on the eastern side.
Wikipedia, more..

 

USA Southwest 1990
Masterpieces of erosion..
USA Southwest 1990

 

 

USA Southwest 1990
Telluride.
Finally that storm unloaded rain and hail on us, but the weather cleared when we arrived in this
mining town - turned ghost town - turned hippie commune.
Actually those days were gone to, it was developing into a ski resort, but still had ways to go.

USA Southwest 1990

USA Southwest 1990
That zig-zag road in the distance, on the left hand of the photo, leads to a ghost town, Pandora.
But that road was all mud and rocky hard going, not something we could consider for the camper.

 

USA Southwest 1990
Another thing we won't find at home: signs torn by bullets.

USA Southwest 1990
The long drive never got boring with views like these.

 

 

USA Southwest 1990
Fast food was nothing new to us, but it was a novelty for my parents. Pizza Hut and Burger King had not come
to our country yet. My mother did not like the soggy sandwiches with the burgers; neither did she like the American style pancakes we had for breakfast, so unlike the ones we bake at home. My father took it all in his stride, particularly taking a liking to taco's and other Mexican food.
USA Southwest 1990

 

 

USA Southwest 1990
Driving the 'Million Dollar Highway', signs of abandoned mines: the ruins of the Idarado Mine or Longfellow Mines?

Most of U.S. 550 in Colorado is two-lane mountainous highway. It is one of only two north–south U.S. Highways in Colorado which runs west of the Continental Divide The other route is US 491. The route travels north through the San Juan Mountains.
The Million Dollar Highway stretches for about 25 miles (40 km) in western Colorado and follows the route of U.S. 550 between Silverton and Ouray,CO. It is part of the San Juan Skyway Scenic Byway. Between Durango and Silverton the Skyway loosely parallels the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad.

U.S. Route 550 at the Uncompahgre Gorge:
Though the entire stretch has been called the Million Dollar Highway, it is really the twelve miles (19 km) south of Ouray through the Uncompahgre Gorge to the summit of Red Mountain Pass which gains the highway its name. This stretch through the gorge is challenging and potentially hazardous to drive; it is characterized by steep cliffs, narrow lanes, and a lack of guardrails; the ascent of Red Mountain Pass is marked with a number of hairpin curves used to gain elevation, and again, narrow lanes for traffic—many cut directly into the sides of mountains. During this ascent, the remains of the Idarado Mine are visible.
Wikipedia, more..

 

 

USA Southwest 1990
Silverton.
Silverton is a former silver mining camp, most or all of which is now included in a federally designated National Historic Landmark District, the Silverton Historic District. The town population was 531 at U.S. Census 2000!
What I thought to see in Durango, I got in Silverton!

USA Southwest 1990
Note that sign 'Hitchin Post'.
There was a lot of good Indian art for sale here too, not just gaudy tourist trinkets, but good quality art work.

 

 

USA Southwest 1990
Mesa Verde National Park and the Anasazi Cliff Dwellings.
Mesa Verde, Spanish for green table, offers a spectacular look into the lives of the Ancestral Pueblo people who made it their home for over 700 years, from A.D. 600 to 1300. Today the park protects nearly 5,000 known archeological sites, including 600 cliff dwellings. These sites are some of the most notable and best preserved in the United States.

USA Southwest 1990
With that shadow cast over the buildings, it isn't so strange that these weren't discovered for centuries.

USA Southwest 1990
Ancestral Puebloans made Mesa Verde their home from about A.D. 550 to 1300. For more than 700 years they
and their descendants lived and flourished here.

USA Southwest 1990

The cliff dwellings of Mesa Verde are some of the most notable and best preserved in the North American Continent.
Sometime during the late 1190s, after primarily living on the mesa top for 600 years, many Ancestral Puebloans began living in pueblos they built beneath the overhanging cliffs. The structures ranged in size from one-room storage units to villages of more than 150 rooms.
While still farming the mesa tops, they continued to reside in the alcoves, repairing, remodeling, and constructing new rooms for nearly a century.
www.nps.gov

 

USA Southwest 1990

USA Southwest 1990
By the late 1270s, the population began migrating south into present-day New Mexico and Arizona.
By 1300, the Ancestral Puebloan occupation of Mesa Verde ended.

The cause of the migration has never been satisfactorily clarified.

 
USA Southwest 1990
From the Mesa Verde NP we headed for Navajo country..

 

USA Southwest 1990
We could hear strange tongues talking, but fortunately they spoke English too. And US dollars was the right currency. You cannot get alcohol in this 'country', but you can see where the inhabitants drink it: big piles of bottles dumped at the roadside just across the border. No environmental hang ups here.

USA Southwest 1990
'Window Rock' near Gallup.
Regretfully I couldn't plan a visit to Arches NP in Utah, but this arch was a nice consolation prize.

USA Southwest 1990
We bought a few souvenirs that were too nice to resist. Support the local community, I say!

USA Southwest 1990
Canyon de Chelly
Next was a long hike down, a thirsty trail into the hot canyon for more cliff dwellings.

Canyon de Chelly National Monument was established on April 1, 1931 as a unit of the National Park Service.
It is located in northeastern Arizona within the boundaries of the Navajo Nation.

Reflecting one of the longest continuously inhabited landscapes of North America, it preserves ruins of the early indigenous tribes that lived in the area, including the Ancient Pueblo Peoples (also called Anasazi) and Navajo.
The monument covers 83,840 acres (131.0 sq mi; 339.3 km2) and encompasses the floors and rims of the three major canyons: de Chelly, del Muerto, and Monument.
These canyons were cut by streams with headwaters in the Chuska mountains just to the east of the monument. None of the land is federally owned.

USA Southwest 1990
A hogan.
The Navaho hogan, was a smaller counterpart of the Pawnee 'earth lodge'. The communal pueblo structure of the Rio Grande region consisted of a number—sometimes hundreds—of square-built rooms of various sizes, of stone or adobe laid in clay mortar, with flat roof, court-yards, and intricate passage ways, suggestive of oriental things.

USA Southwest 1990

The name chelly (or Chelley, pronounced shay) is a Spanish borrowing of the Navajo word Tséyiʼ, which means 'canyon' (literally 'inside the rock' < tsé "rock" + -yiʼ 'inside of, within').
The Spanish pronunciation of de Chelly was adapted into English, apparently through modelling after a French-like spelling pronunciation, and now English pronunciation: shay.
Canyon de Chelly long served as a home for Navajo people before it was invaded by forces led by future New Mexico governor Lt. Antonio Narbona in 1805.
In 1863 Col. Kit Carson sent troops to either end of the canyon to defeat the Navajo population within. The resulting devastation led to the surrender of the Navajos and their removal to Bosque Redondo, New Mexico.
Wikipedia, more..

USA Southwest 1990
Impregnable as a European castle..
 

 

USA Southwest 1990
From Canyon de Chelly to Carson Mesa; just when we thought it couldn't get any warmer...

USA Southwest 1990
But the heat did not stop us getting out of the car every now and then to get the cameras out..

USA Southwest 1990
Monument Valley, Navajo Tribal Park Arizona - Utah.

USA Southwest 1990

This great valley boasts sandstone masterpieces that tower at heights of 400 to 1,000 feet. Framed by scenic clouds casting shadows that graciously roam the desert floor. The angle of the sun accents these graceful formations, providing scenery that is simply spellbinding.

The landscape overwhelms, not just by its beauty but also by its size. The fragile pinnacles of rock are surrounded by miles of mesas and buttes, shrubs, trees and windblown sand, all comprising the magnificent colors of the valley. All of this harmoniously combines to make Monument Valley a truly wondrous experience.
http://navajonationparks.org/htm/monumentvalley.htm


USA Southwest 1990
We arrived at the campground quite early in the afternoon; we had decided not to loose too much time in
the park yet as I was afraid the campground might be filling up and we had not made any reservations.
And we were determined to get some nice sunset photos and film. There we have a disadvantage of travelling with a campervan, as you have to pack it all up again when you go for a drive. We also found the campervan not suited to drive the sandy roads inside the park, nor was it insured in off-road conditions...

USA Southwest 1990
We did get some nice shots at sunset from the general vantage point.

USA Southwest 1990

 

 

USA Southwest 1990
Everybody recognizes this: the Grand Canyon - and may I emphasize 'Grand'..

"I'd heard of the Canyon (the old cowboy said)
And I figured I'd like to go see it.
So I rode till I sighted a rim out ahead,
And reckoned that this place might be it.

I anchored my horse to a juniper limb
And crawled to the edge for a peek.
One look was a plenty to make my head swim.
And all of my innards felt weak.

If I'd known how durned deep it was going to be,
I'd have managed, by some hook or crook,
To tie my ownself to the doggoned tree
And let my horse go take the look!"
'Grand Canyon Cowboy' - S. Omar Barker, from Rawhide Rhymes; Singing Poems of the Old West[www.cowboypoetry.com]

 

USA Southwest 1990
We decided to visit the North Rim, as it better suited out itinerary. Much less travelled too.
But it is the same as on the South Rim: just by spending time here one sees the sun changing the colours,
the contrast and the shadows grow longer changing the view even more. It is a painting coming alive.

USA Southwest 1990

 

USA Southwest 1990
Camping in the wild.. This is something very different from a roadtrip in a car, staying in motels.
But there were a few disadvantages to a camper van too: e.g. the wind could slow us down, sometimes 55 mph was as fast you could go. And the milage would turn to 1:3, effecting the range and the budget!

USA Southwest 1990
Still, it brought us to tranquil places like these...

 

 

USA Southwest 1990
Next was Bryce Canyon. This time we only did the 'rim drive' as my father had trouble with his knees and a hike
down into the canyon is quite an undertaking that could last several hours. So we admired from above.
I did visit the area again: UTAH 2008

USA Southwest 1990
Quite cosy: little house on wheels.
My father converted a van into a campervan, later bought a 'real one', and they travelled all through Europe with them. For me the travel is too restricted and too slow, but this view may change over the years.

 

USA Southwest 1990
I came upon this very same place in 1983, though it had a lot of horses then; has it been abandoned?

 

USA Southwest 1990
Beauty in its starkness.

 

USA Southwest 1990
Salt Lake City. It was quite a change from rural to urban. And it was hot.
We exchanged the campervan for a rental car here, since the drop off charges were usd 200,- here compared to usd 400,- in San Francisco. We'd driven the RV 3345 kms (2090 mls) in 14 days.
We did not spend much time in Salt Lake City.

 

USA Southwest 1990
One thing we did visit here was the Hill AFB Museum & Park, but it was at the end of the day and I had to run to get my pictures as they were about to close the place and they almost locked me in.
The museum was being established or extended.

 

USA Southwest 1990
My parents didn't like the change to car & motels much, speed of travel was never their thing.

USA Southwest 1990
Driving south from Salt Lake City we came upon the huge sand dunes of Little Sahara Recreation Area.
We landed amidst a sandstorm!

USA Southwest 1990
I always was on the lookout for ghost towns, this was at Silver Reef Ghost Town.

USA Southwest 1990
From ghost towns to.. Las Vegas!

USA Southwest 1990
Las Vegas, there is nothing like it, so it had to be included in this trip.
Ada went to a show with my parents, while I stayed in the motel with Alexander. Besides a taste of glamour and entertainment it was also a pleasure to relax at the pool.
We stayed at the Quality Inn, the same place we'd stayed before though it had different names then: The Ambassador Inn (1980) and La Mirage (1988).
 

 

USA Southwest 1990

USA Southwest 1990
Calico ghost town is all dressed up, but a nice stop on the long drive to Los Angeles.

 

 

USA Southwest 1990
In Los Angeles we did the obvious things, such as visiting Disneyland and Universal Studios.
Alexander found it all entertaining but missed his friends at home.
 

 

 

USA Southwest 1990
On the drive up to San Francisco we visited Hearst Castle, admire its splendour.
www.hearstcastle.org

USA Southwest 1990

 

 

  USA Southwest 1990 - going home
We also visited the Monterey Bay Aquarium, but all the time that was left for San Francisco was a drive down on 'the crookedest street' (Lombard Street) and a trip across the Golden Gate Bridge. On average we had driven 240 kms a day in the car (Ford Taurus, my first experience with cruise control), which was a bit too much in haste for my parents. With so many impressions it was time to go home and take it all in, absorb and assimilate. We flew in style: 'Star Class' on a Martinair 767, flight MP802.
My father was allowed to sit in the cockpit for the intermediate landing in Seattle, another unique experience to finish it off. I am forever grateful I made this trip happen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Created: 15Oct12 - Updated: 20 Oktober, 2012