Category Archives: Travel

USA, Colorado, Vail – A Look Around Vail

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(See my other Road Trip 2019 related posts) – While on our road trip heading east through Colorado we stopped and spent some time in Vail. I have been there a few times now, but always in the summer. I can only imagine what it is like in the winter.

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Vail is full of shops and restaurants. We had several places to choose from for lunch.

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Vail is relatively a small (4.7 square miles) town having just over 5300 residents in the 2010 census. It is primarily a tourist destination with hiking and cycling popular in the summer and winter sports in the colder months. Setting at an elevation of 8150 feet, it gets plenty of snow. (183 inches on average each year). As you can tell from the vehicle above, they are prepared for it.

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The town of Vail is located next to 11,570 foot Vail Mountain which is home to the ski resort that opened in 1962. It is the largest ski mountain in Colorado.  While you walk around the town you can glimpse the mountains around it.

 

 

 

 

 

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Walking through the town you are treated to many examples of flora from the near Alpine climate.

Vail is a great place to just wander. The shopping opportunities are plentiful with many high-end shops. It is an enjoyable, but not an inexpensive place to visit.


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USA, Colorado, Ouray – Mouse’s Chocolate & Coffee

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(See my other 2019 Road Trip posts) – While in Ouray, Colorado my wife and I visited Mouse’s Chocolates and Coffee located at 520 Main Street, Ouray, CO, 81427. This was a very pleasant surprise in this town of only about 1000 residents.

When we were there it was full of many out of town visitors. We were driving through but wanted to stop for a little something. This place caught our eye and we got in line.

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It being a warm day, we opted for ice cream. At first we were each going to get something, but in the end, we were glad we decided to share one of their treats. The selection we chose was more than enough for both of us. That is certainly not the only choice. The Mouse’s Chocolates and Coffee offers:

Handmade Chocolates, each made right here by the Chocolatier, using imported Belgian Chocolate. Coffee roasted on-premises. Espresso drinks, Coffee, Ice Cream, Milkshakes all served year-round. 

We really enjoyed our visit. It was very busy while we were there. The Yelp rating is 4.5/5 and the TripAdvisor rating is an even better 5/5. If you are interested in Mouse’s, you may want to also check them out on Twitter or Facebook. The shop is open 9 – 7 Sunday thru Thursday, and 9 to 8 Friday and Saturday.


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USA, Colorado, Ouray – Million Dollar Highway and Ouray

On our 2019 Road Trip, we drove from Durango up to Ouray, Colorado. Part of that journey was on the ‘Million Dollar Highway’.

The Million Dollar Highway is the stretch of US 550 that runs the 25 miles between Silverton, CO to Ouray, CO. The 12 miles of the highway just outside of Ouray is where than moniker for the road comes from. Exactly why it is so named is in dispute. The most popular explanations are:

  1. The view is worth a million dollars
  2. It cost a million dollars to build in the 1920s
  3. The filler for the road contains a million dollars in gold particles

The road goes through three mountain passes between 10,600 and 11,020 feet in height. The road is somewhat of a hazardous drive with narrow lanes, few guard rails, hairpin turns, and steep cliffs.

The road does offer some incredible views, though the driver has to be more focused on the road. There are a few places to pull over and enjoy the scenery. While the drive was not too bad, I would not recommend it for nervous drivers.

Ouray, Colorado as a town came about from the silver and gold prospectors who flooded the area in the late 19th century. It was officially incorporated in 1884. It is a relatively small town still with only a population of 1000 as of the 2010 census. It has several rich mines during its heyday. Now it is mostly a tourism destination. It is located at an altitude of 7,792 feet.

We were only there for a short time, but it is a place we would like to come back to. It felt like a good place to relax and do day trips for hiking or biking. There also seemed to be many interesting places to eat.


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USA, Colorado, Durango – Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad Museum

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While on our 2019 Road Trip we stopped in Durango to visit the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad Museum. Many ride the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, but it was an all-day commitment and we didn’t have the time on this trip.

The Museum is free and is open 10-4 Mon-Sat during the winter season and 7-7 daily during peak season (Check the website before you visit). The Museum is located at 479 Main Avenue, Durango, CO 81301.

The 12,000 square foot museum was created in 1998 in what was once the roundhouse. It includes railway memorabilia, such as the two locomotives above. As they say on their website:

The Durango & Silverton Railroad is proud to share the fascinated history of railroading, transportation, and mining with people from around the world.

The Museum contains a large and detailed working model train display.

The Museum also has many other items on display. They claim to be frequently updating the exhibits.

Outside there is some rolling stock that the Museum maintains. These are in addition to those used in the train that travels between Durango and Silverson.

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There is also an enclosed shop for restoration and maintenance.

We enjoyed the time we spent at the Museum and will probably visit it again the next time we are in Durango. If you have an interest in trains, particularly of the steam variety, then you will enjoy a stop at the Museum.


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USA, Colorado, Durango – Lone Spur Cafe

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(See my other Food related posts) – When my wife and I were on our recent road trip we stopped at the Lone Spur Cafe for a late breakfast when visiting Durango. The Lone Spur we visited is located at 619 Main Avenue, Durango, CO 81301. There are two other locations in Flagstaff and Prescott Arizona.

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Keeping with the western theme, the restaurant has a very rustic appearance, the service though was very good.

As I said, we both ordered breakfast and we were very pleased with our meals. Even though it was late in the morning the restaurant was crowded, This confirmed for me that many found the food there good. Looking at TripAdvisor this opinion for the Lone Spur is supported by a 4.5/5 rating. Likewise, it has a 4.5/5 rating on  Yelp.

The Lone Spur is open seven days a week 6:30AM to 2:30 PM, and from 5:00PM until 9:00PM on Fridays and Saturdays. They offer an extensive breakfast menu and a selection of soups, salads, burgers, sandwiches, and specialty items for lunch.

If we are in Durango again, we will definitely be revisiting the Lone Spur Cafe. It is a location I would recommend if you are visiting Durango.


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USA, Arizona, Teec Nos Pos – Four Corners Monument

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(See my other 2019 Road Trip and Location posts) – Since we were driving through northern Arizona, we wanted to take the time and visit the Four Corners Monument. It is the only location in the US where four states intersect. As it turned out we barely made it there in time before it closed for the day. Fortunately, we arrived just before it closed and we had a chance to look around.

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The large plaza with the actual point where the corners of the four states Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, and Colorado meet was almost empty. I think if we had arrived earlier and been there on a weekend or in the summer when schools were out, it would have much more crowded. As it turned out we could take photos easily and without intrusions by others. We even were able to get a photo of us standing at the intersection point.

There is a great deal of booth space around the periphery of the plaza, but none were occupied when we were there. We want to visit on a future trip when more is going on at the Monument. As you can see from the flags in the photo above, the wind was blowing strongly while we were there.

As described on the website:

In 1912, when the dust settled and the final lines were drawn, a cement pad was built on-site to officially mark the spot where the states came together. The cement pad has since been upgraded to a brass and granite designation marking the “four corners.”

Located within the Colorado Plateau, the site is near many parks and preserves renowned for their natural beauty, including Monument Valley and Canyon de Chelly National Monument.

I wouldn’t make a trip just to visit Four Corners, but if you are close to that part of the US it is a nice side trip. There is a charge of $10 per individual or $20 per vehicle to enter the Monument.


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USA, Utah, Springdale – Zion National Park

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(See my other 2019 Road Trip and Location-related posts) – On our road trip, we had to spend some time in St. George, Utah on some business before we continued on our vacation. We took the opportunity when leaving St. George to head back East through Zion National Park. This made my second visit to the part.

This 229 square mile park was established in 1919 and is the first National Park established in Utah. We entered the park on Highway 9 out of Hurricane then continued on Highway 9 through the park.

The park was extremely crowded when we were there. We never could find a parking spot at the main visitor center, so we did not get out to walk around.

We were able to pull over at a few different spots to enjoy the scenery and take photos.

I would like to go back sometime when it was less crowded (if there is such a time) and when it is a little cooler to walk some of the trails.

Taking the route through Zion put us a couple of hours behind for the day, but the scenery was well worth it.

These photos are just a small sample of what I was able to capture. They don’t do justice to actually being there.


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USA, Nevada, Las Vegas – The Original Rolled Ice Cream

rol-logo-150x150(See my other posts from our 2019 Road Trip and those related to desserts) – While on our road trip and visiting family in Henderson, NV my brother-in-law took us to a “The Original Rolled Ice Cream” location. The one we visited was at 9500 S Eastern Ave, Suite 110
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 (one of their four locations). This happened to be just across the parking lot from the Hot n Juicy Crawfish location where we had enjoyed lunch.

 

rol-aboutThis is your typical ice cream place in many regards, but their special twist is how they prepare the ice cream – into a roll. Liquid ice cream is poured out onto a very cold metal surface. It is spread over the surface into a thin layer which quickly freezes.

Then with a knife, one roll after another is scraped up from the cold surface.

The rolls of ice cream are then placed on end in a cup and the selected toppings are added.

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We had picked out the small version of their “Smores” creation from the menu. We enjoyed this somewhat unique ice cream dessert and look forward to trying it again one day


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Product Review – Texas Historical Marker Guide App

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(See my other 2019 Road Trip and iOS related posts) – On our recent road trip, my wife and I passed several Texas Historical Markers along the roadside. We were curious as to what they said but really didn’t want to take the time to stop and read them. That made me remember a book my father had “Why Stop?: A Guide to Texas Roadside Historical Markers“.

 

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This book was published in 2013 and contains the information of more than 2500 Texas roadside markers. They are still available on Amazon for $15.76 (paperback) and $9.59 (Kindle) at the time I write this.

Of course, the information in that guide is dated and I didn’t have a copy with me on our trip.

I checked to see if there was anything on-line about the markers. What I discovered is the “Texas Historical Marker Guide” App for the iPhone. Not only does this App have more than 16,000 Historical Markers included in its database, but it also has the ability for users to contribute updates.

The App can be purchased through the App Store for $2.99. Per the App website:

Texas is home to over 15,000 historical markers. And now there’s an app to help you find them!

Features:
-Onboard marker database means you can browse markers without an Internet connection.
-Browse markers by geographic locations including cities and counties.
-Browse markers by type, size, and subject.
-Browse attractions where markers can be found including cemeteries; state parks; historic districts; etc.
-Uses Location Services to find your current location and display markers in the current county. (Internet connection required)
-Check-in at markers to keep track of visits!
-Update marker coordinates! (Device with GPS radio required)
-Record marker conditions!

-Includes conditions of marker where reported.
-Includes text for many markers with more being added frequently.

-Take pictures with an in-app camera or import from camera roll! (Pictures are not included with app.)
-Share your favorite markers via FaceBook, Flickr, Mail, and iMessage!

Includes:
-Texas Centennial markers and monuments from 1936!
-Old San Antonio Road markers erected by DAR and the State of Texas in 1918!
-San Jacinto Battleground markers erected by DRT and the State of Texas in 1912!
-Complete Texas works of Pompeo Coppini!
-Selected Texas works of Waldine Tauch, Frank Teich, Elisabet Ney, and others!
-Blue Star Memorial markers (all the ones we know about.)
-New markers erected since 2012!

This is an App that we will use almost every time we are out on the roads (not the Interstates) of Texas.

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If you and your family drive Texas, this might be an inexpensive App to help pass the time on the road while learning more about our state.

In the 34 county Hill Country region of Texas, the App shows more than  2300 markers. More than 25 markers show up in the App within 5 miles of my home location.

I used the location of the CapMac (Capital Macintosh User Group) meetings (red arrow) I attend monthly in Austin and found all of the markers shown in the image to the left. You can literally find markers all over the state.

If you really like the App, follow them on Facebook.

 

Pros

  1. Inexpensive at $2.99
  2. Automatically tracks your location
  3. Nearby markers pop up on map
  4. User can easily drill down to details of marker

 

Cons

  1. Text is a little small and can be challenging to read in a moving vehicle
  2. More of a desire than a Con: it would be nice to be able to touch a button to have the details read to you
  3. More of a desire than a Con: it would be nice to have a setting that would automatically read you every marker within a set distance

 


See my other iOS articles


 

 

USA, Arizona, Flagstaff – Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument

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(see my other Location related posts) – While on our 2019 Road Trip my wife and I took the time to drive up to the Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument. This is not in Flagstaff, Arizona but is only about 15 miles or 30 minutes north of the city (take U.S. 89 north for 12 miles (19km), turn right on the Sunset Crater – Wupatki Loop road and continue 2 miles (3km) to the visitor center).

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Sunset Crater is about 900 years old, yet it is still the youngest volcano on the Colorado Plateau. The cinder cone (shown above) of the crater now stands about 1000 feet above what was once just meadows and forest. As you can see in the photo above there is still a great deal of cinder from the volcano strewn about.

As you can see as well, there is still evidence of lava flow that resulted from the volcano.

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While there has been some regrowth in the past 900 years, the soil itself resists in many places. The parking lot at the base of the crater offers a few hiking paths. Some paved, but others wander over the rough terrain offering a closer view of the crater and the existing flora.

The day we visited the crater access to the park was free (National Parks has a few free days per year). Normally there is a $25 per vehicle charge. This was not as impressive as the Meteor Crater, but still worth the time to visit.


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