From Rock Springs, we headed south through the northeast corner of Utah towards Grand Junction, Colorado.When I planned this trip, I was really looking forward to this drive.It would take us past the Flaming Gorge Reservoir and along the western edge of Utahís Uinta Mountains.I had never been to either of those areas, and I was looking forward to checking them out.


Unfortunately, we didnít get much of a chance.We ran into rain shortly beyond the Wyoming border.The weather severely restricted our views of the surrounding countryside.All we saw of the Uinta Mountains was pine trees and fog.Oh well, weíll have to go back another time.


The weather improved by the time we reached Vernal, Utah.From there, we headed east, into dinosaur country.The entire area around and east of Vernal is famous for its fossils, particularly dinosaur bones.I wouldíve liked to explore the area more, and visit Dinosaur National Monument, but the area isnít exactly dog friendly.Itís usually hot, and dogs arenít allowed in many areas.I guess the folks in charge there are afraid Fido might run off with a Stegosaurus bone.


We crossed a bridge over the Green River, hundreds of miles downstream from its headwaters, where weíd hiked a week earlier.A few miles later, we crossed into Colorado.Our visit to Utah had been all too brief.


Before long we turned south and cruised along towards Grand Junction.Then we hit Douglas Pass.Wow, thatís what I call a hill!I wasnít sure our overloaded Xterra would make it to the top.Now I know how dump truck drivers feel!If you ever drive this road, plan on extra time to cross Douglas Pass.


After the pass we sailed on to I-70 without incident.From there, we headed east to Fruita and Colorado National Monument.Our plan was to meet Myron at the campground there.It was late afternoon, but we were running a couple of hours ahead of him.Myron had flown into Denver that morning and rented a car, one-way, to Grand Junction.Weíd drop his rental car off the next morning before heading for the San Juans.


I was concerned about getting a campsite, as the park doesnít take reservations.So, we headed to the campground first.I shouldnít have worried.†† There were exactly 3 groups in the 51-site campground.I couldnít believe it.The only difficulty was deciding which site we liked the most.The campground sits up high on the plateau, and some sites even have nice views over the Colorado River valley.We ended up selecting site 51.We pitched camp, called Myron to let him know where we were, and headed into town to run errands.


We found a Laundromat in Fruita.We got 4 loads of laundry going, and I stayed to baby sit while Christy ran to the grocery store.She returned just in time to help me pack up all of our clean clothes.As we were leaving, we stopped dead in our tracks in the parking lot.A brilliant double-rainbow was arcing across the sky overhead.It was, without a doubt, the most spectacular rainbow Iíd ever seen.Isnít a rainbow a symbol for hope?We could only hope that this rainbow signified a pending improvement in our fortunes.


Looking at it from town was nice, but I wanted to see it from the red rock country of Colorado National Monument.We raced back to the park, and luckily the rainbow lasted long enough for us to get some interesting photos.It turns out that photographing a double-rainbow is a bit tricky, but we did get a few good ones.


We still had a little daylight, so we decided to check out the park before returning to the campground.We drove part of the parkís scenic road, stopping at a handful of intriguing overlooks.Along the way, we spotted a couple dozen hares.It seemed like every time we turned a corner, a rabbit would go bouncing across the road.This was entertaining, especially for Saucony.Apparently we can add rabbits to the ever-growing list of animals that Saucony likes.We tried to keep our eyes out for Jackalopes, but Iím not going to claim that we saw one of those.


We didnít make it far down the scenic drive before dark.We decided to save the rest for the next morning.We returned to camp, where we found Myron setting up.That evening we feasted on chili and beer and attempted to organize our gear.Fortunately we went to bed well before the thunderstorms hit.The storms were fierce, and we definitely felt exposed perched high up on the plateau.Well, Christy did, anyway.I slept through the whole thing.


I made breakfast the next morning before we packed up all of our wet gear.The storms had left lingering fog on the plateau, which threatened to limit our views from the scenic drive.We drove it anyway, mainly because it conveniently goes to Grand Junction.We drove through the park, stopping at a couple of overlooks that werenít fogged in, before reaching town.In Grand Junction we found a Discount Tire location.Luckily, they had a used tire in the right size.I waited there in the parking lot with the dog while Christy and Myron visited an REI store nearby.Iím not sure how I got the short end of that arrangement.It mustíve been a hundred degrees in that parking lot.


Fortunately the Discount Tire guys were quick.We left there and headed over near the airport to drop off Myronís rental car.After we arrived, we spent a considerable amount of time trying to get Myronís gear into the Xterra.Fortunately, he had brought a collapsible luggage carrier that fit on our roof rack.We never wouldíve gotten everything in there without it.


We finished that project, grabbed Wendyís for lunch, and hit the road.We had only killed half a day with our errands.However, we had a long drive ahead of us, and I still wanted to visit Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park on the way.

Continue reading about our trip to the Rockies in the summer of 2006 as we visit Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.

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Please remember to Leave No Trace!