Nine days. Five states. 2,887 miles. 828 photos. One mountaintop. Fourteen stops for gas. Innumerable sights and memories. Nine consecutive entries for journals written on location. Forty entries for photos, additional commentary, and hindsight. My wife and I have taken a road trip in some fashion each year since 1999 — before we were married or even dating, back when we were best friends. Our week-plus excursion to Colorado via Kansas was one of our most ambitious, successful, and draining road trips to date. Thanks sincerely to those lovable readers who followed along with us and offered encouragement throughout the process, whether in ways great or small, conscious or unwitting.
As my way of concluding the “2012 Road Trip Photos” series and holding the blogging equivalent of a post-production wrap party, please enjoy this assortment of previously unshared photos from the journey. Some are alternate viewpoints of sights you’ve seen; some are little moments bypassed till now. For the complete itinerary, check out the 2012 Road Trip checklist for the ultimate reading guide, with links to all the notes and photos, day by day. They’re a fun way to kill an afternoon or help decide how your own future trips to these locales will be even better.
Let the montage begin!
This week’s edition of the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge is the first such challenge I’ve ever attempted. It’s not a fierce competition with a major award at stake, but I feel sheepish daring to share a theme with so many top-notch professionals who do this for a living and/or have had extensive formal training. In the spirit of fun, though, I’m giving the Challenge a whirl anyway.
Behold my octet of entrants from my own collection, submitted in the categorical competition of general greenery:
1. Sugar Creek runs through Turkey Run State Park near Rockville, Indiana.
2. The Jolly Green Giant, standing tall and proud in Blue Earth, Minnesota.
Previously on Day Six: We traveled southwest from Colorado Springs to Cañon City for the pleasure of visiting the Royal Gorge Bridge and Park, home of the professed highest suspension bridge in America, with animals and performers stationed on either side so that the bridge could foster traversal between activities and sights instead of between two dusty, rugged landmasses.
At bridge level, the Rocky Mountains are your eastern horizon, while the steep banks of the Royal Gorge serve as noise barriers to the Arkansas River below.
Previously on “Rocky Mountain National Park: the Miniseries Within a Maxiseries”: the second half of Day Three of our road trip was spent in and on the way to Rocky Mountain National Park, amidst a splendidly arranged mountain collection that shames the pitiful hills of our Indiana homeland.
The most conveniently paved entrance to RMNP from the southeast is US Route 36, through Lyon and into the town of Estes Park, crossing here over scenic Lake Estes.
After I acquiesced to my wife’s demand for a slow, careful descent down Lookout Mountain, our scenic Day Three continued north with a two-hour drive along the east side of the Rockies, through Boulder (very fancy and well-manicured, though not a single Mork & Mindy statue in sight) and northwest to the cozy, wooded town of Estes Park, home of Rocky Mountain National Park.
The drive can be accomplished in less than two hours if you keep your eyes focused on the road and ignore your surroundings. That’s a terrible way to experience the Rockies, though. I had a hard time deciding how often to stop, which views might stand out the most on camera, and which ones to pass by without stopping. Along that entire stretch, beautiful vistas were as common as mile markers. We thought highly of them, anyway. I don’t know if people who live near mountains take them for granted or genuinely wake up appreciating them every day, but we’re used to the topography of Indiana, where the nearest mountains are in West Virginia and all those rolling hills in the southern half of the state stopped impressing me around age 5. Then again, I can imagine Kansans driving up and down State Road 37 between Bloomington and the Ohio River, oohing and aahing at how not-flat everything is. It’s all about your geographic context and personal perspective, I suppose.
I have to admit to myself here that God’s majestic monoliths don’t really beg for puny human captions. This is me stepping back, shutting up for the space of several pics (some taken inside the park, some on the way to the park, all clickable for plus-sized goodness), and letting you enjoy the kind of views that have inspired many a landscape painter, poet, mountain climber, and cinematographer.