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I spent the next day in Santa Rosa and we went to see some sculptures scattered around the property of a nearby vineyard. It was lovely walking around looking at the array of art on display. The rolling hills were turning green and the countryside was a delight. There were upwards of twenty pieces of art.
In the afternoon I took a walk around the neighborhood where we were staying to admire the many, many beautiful flower gardens. I came across the most fascinating of trees, the Australian Smoke Tree, which I found extraordinarily weird and wonderful. Terry's friend Susan, with whom we stayed, had a wonderful garden full of beautiful roses, and it was a pleasure smelling them and enjoying their beauty. I also stopped by the wonderful Copperfield's Books store in the Montgomery Village shopping center, which is well worth the time.
Up early the next morning, we were treated to a delicious farewell breakfast by Susan, and then we were on our way. We meandered south past some fantastic scenery to link up with I-80 and head east. (Route) The Interstate was a mass of cars but we'd missed the rush-hour, thankfully, and made our merry way towards the amazing Sierra Nevada mountains. After a few hours of driving, we stopped at the Blue Star Memorial Highway garden for a quick picnic lunch and to stretch our legs.
We by-passed Reno, had a quick stop in Sparks, and made our way to the quaint town of Winnemucca, NV for the night. As we drove into town, we spotted the Santa Fe Inn and went to find out what it was like. Our room was large and spacious and we had a good night. A light supper followed at Sid's Restaurant not far down the road, then we had a walk through the lovely cemetery across the street from the motel. Sid's Restaurant were so accommodating. Neither of us wanted a heavy meal so they kindly gave us just a cup of delicious tortilla soup and we split a large hambuger which was scrumptuous! They start serving breakfast at 5.30am for those really, really early birds!
The next stage was a long one but we set off early and made really good time. Northern Nevada really impressed me because I thought we were in for dry, sandy desert for most of the way. But, the fields and hills were greening up beautifully and as it was cloudy, the atmosphere was stunning. I enjoyed driving through this quiet part of the country and was suitably impressed with the scenery. We stopped for a stretch and picnic lunch at West Wendover (there is a lovely little park behind the Visitors Center) and found the most hilarious thing! Leaving the town, I drove over a painted sign in the road, which after crossing it, I realized was the defining line between Nevada and Utah. And, there was a casino right on the border, so to speak. (See my photo below.)
The scenery changed almost immediately after leaving Nevada, and before you know, all you can see are distant mountains and flat, white land, right up to the road. For some part of the way we couldn't determine whether the white was salt, sand or water. I think it was a mixture of all three in parts.
Before long we were in Salt Lake City, and man, is it a beautiful city! Surrounded by monolithic mountains (Wasatch) on three sides, snow-capped to boot, and some of the most impressive buildings I've seen in a long time. The architecture was stunning. We found a parking space and hot-footed it to Temple Square to see the Latter Day Saints' most famous landmarks. Although the temple was not open for visitors, we took in the exquisite spires and the beautiful gardens. The tabernacle was open and we stopped in to have a look. It would have been wonderful to have had more time to visit in depth, but this was not a sightseeing trip. The people were friendly and obliging, and I've noted that Salt Lake City is one more place I'll revisit.
Notes to self: Find another route other than I-15 South to leave the city, and do not leave in the evening rush hour! Look into the naming (numbering) of the streets, which really looked bizarre to us.
We spent the night in Orem (I thought we were staying in Provo, Robert Redford Land) just south of Salt Lake City, at the La Quinta Inn and Suites. The idea was to not have to endure the morning rush hour on the Interstate. Supper was at Sizzler, but as they wouldn't let me photograph my food, they're not getting a link or any photos or any other details of our meal.
The next morning, after a mediocre breakfast, we were on the Interstate for just a few miles and then peeled off onto US Hwy 6 east towards the cute town of Helper. This road is one of the most beautiful I've seen in a long while, and we were so happy we took it. Very peaceful and pleasant and gorgeous mountains surrounded us for most of the way and until we hooked up with I-70 to head east.
Once we were heading east on I-70 towards Grand Junction in Colorado, the scenery changed again. The beautiful Book Cliffs started showing themselves in all their glory. This leg of the journey went relatively quickly and I was chomping at the bit to show Terry Main Street in Grand Junction. I visited just two weeks earlier and did a story on the art along this pedestrianized street. We're both artists and appreciate seeing as much art as we can, and last time I was here the stores were all closed. This time however, we saw some art! We stopped in at The Palette where we discovered they offer painting classes (with a glass of wine) which I really would loved to have tried. We'd decided to spend the night in Montrose rather than Grand Junction, so we couldn't take a class. Checking out all the art for sale at The Palette (really inexpensive!) was fun, as was walking Main Street and discovering the beautiful Colorado Canyons Gallery & Gifts. I loved the art on display and for sale here. The Palette had a huge board on the wall with photos of the paintings scheduled for that month, so you could choose which painting you'd like to try. Looks like so much fun!
After satiating ourselves with art, we headed south on US Hwy 50/550 to Montrose, about an hour-and-a-half drive. The countryside is beautiful at this time of year, and this area is known for its fantastic fruit, and wine! We endured a bit of rain but wound up at the Quality Inn & Suites in Montrose in time to grab some supper which we enjoyed in the hotel room. I was pretty tired after the long and interesting day, and neither of us having had any sleep the night before in Orem/Provo, I was looking forward to a good sleep.
After a nice breakfast we set off on the last leg of this trip, east on US 50 to Colorado Springs. It was overcast and there was some rain and light snow, even a mini dust storm, but the scenery was so spectacular that we hardly noticed. The road was curvy and easy to drive, and it took us about four hours to get home. We did stop briefly in Gunnison to get gas and take a few photos. I had to stop at the Blue Mesa reservoir, and even though it was horribly cloudy, I wanted a photo. The weather didn't stop boaters from braving the waters.
The last two hours took us over Monarch Pass which was gorgeous and snowy (not the roads, thankfully) and we crossed the Continental Divide at 11,312 feet. This was also the first time in a few days that we had seen some blue sky. It didn't last too long as we soon drove through a rather scary rain and hail storm. I commented that on this last day of our road trip, we had experienced seven natural elements; rain, hail, snow, wind, sun, sandstorm, and sleet.
Once we had crested Wilkerson Pass, it wasn't too much farther until we were home, but not before the heavens opened up and dumped rain, wind and hail as hard as nails on us. We got home safely and dry and undamaged, thankfully. This road trip, even though rather rushed, afforded us the opportunity of travelling through desert terrain without roasting us in the car—thankfully it wasn't the height of summer!—the scenery was beautiful and the roads good and just a few roadworks along the way. All in all, a truly memorable trip.
Colorado Canyon's Gallery
Santa Fe Inn
1620 W. Winnemucca Blvd., Winnemucca, NY 89445
Tel: (775) 623-1119
Off-street parking available and pet-friendly
Rates: Below $70.00 (I didn't pay the bills so I don't have exact details. Please check with the hotel direct for rates.)
La Quinta Inns & Suites #0962
Quality Inn & Suites
2751 Commercial Way, Montrose, CO 81401
Tel: (970) 249-1011
Off-street parking available, gym and swimming pool available
Rates: Below $80.00 (I didn't pay the bills so I don't have exact details. Please check with the hotel direct for rates.)