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"Our Western Trip - Fall of 2002"

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And so..  Westward ho! we went, in search for adventure, knowledge and full of cheer.  With the great anticipation of visiting our grandchildren in Colorado, whom we had not seen in over a year.. We have taken trips out west in the past, but this time we had a break in between projects, so we thought it would be good to take on the road again, as we have done so many times, to enjoy the exciting experiences offered while traveling by car, with no strings attached and with plenty of time to enjoy the scenery and the many sightseeing spots waiting to be discovered.

Here we have some photos, out of many, that Mark took.  These are only a few selected ones, as space is pretty much restricted, as you all know.  If you have any questions regarding our stops, or would like to know more, feel free to drop us an e-mail and we'll be glad to send it your way.

On September 30th, we took off on a trip to Colorado, which lasted six weeks.  Here's that story: 

We took route 70 West from Baltimore and drove through many little towns and big cities in Maryland, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Indiana.  Mark and I spent our first night just outside of Indianapolis, where we drove north and took Route 80 West.  We made some very interesting sightseeing stops along Route 80 West.  Drove through Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska & Wyoming. 

The photo above is the Brewery district in Columbus, OH.  It's supposed to be a very lively place on weekends.  The one on the left, was taken at Schmidt's Sausage Haus, a typical German restaurant in the German Village district.

There we sampled their home made sausages.  They were Yummy! 

After touring Columbus, we kept driving and that night we stayed just outside of Indianapolis, IN

The following day we stopped in Peoria, IL for a seafood lunch at Joe's Crab, by the Illinois River.  Here you can see a Paddle boat, which in the evenings it becomes a restaurant/casino.   At Joe's we had a very tasty Catfish dish and the view was terrific!

Afterwards we kept driving northwest on Rt. 74, en route to connect to 80West, past Moline, IL.

We finally arrived in Des Moines, Iowa at around 9:00pm that evening.  Just in time to find a room at the Embassy Suites a couple of blocks from the Capitol building.  There was a tornado warning at the time and we were happy to stretch our legs and relax for the rest of the evening.  Here is a photo of the Capitol, which is beautiful inside!  We toured it the next morning, before leaving downtown Des Moines. 
Back in the "saddle again", going west towards Nebraska, the next border State.  Just past the border of Iowa is Omaha, Nebraska.  We stopped there, thinking that we should find a good steak house..  I was thinking "Omaha Steaks"  Ha, ha!  No such find, but we did discover a very cute downtown area, called the "Old Market" place.  The steak house was closed for lunch, but we lucked out, by finding the cutest Mexican restaurant inside this old brick building. 
Here is Mark, showing us the way on the map after we finished our Mexican meal, which was excellent.  Afterwards we walked a little around the old market place, before getting back in the car, to visit our next stop.
The Strategic Air & Space Museum in Ashland, Nebraska.  Here we spent almost 2 hours!  Mark loves airplanes and was having a "blast of the past", looking at old war planes from the WWII era and reminiscing about one of his favorite uncles, uncle Pete - on his mother's side, who was a bomber pilot during the great war and was a very amusing fellow. 
Next stop:  Lincoln.  Nebraska's State Capital.

Here we drove by (it was past 5:00pm) and took photos of the Capitol Building, which is a very unique building.  Notice that it doesn't resemble the more traditional Capital buildings.

After Lincoln we kept going and crossed the rest of the State of Nebraska, into Cheyenne, Wyoming, which is the next largest city on Route 80 West. 


Towards the end it got really foggy and it was very hard to drive in those conditions.  We couldn't even see 10 feet ahead of us, so we had to slow down quite a bit, 'till we go to the hotel in Cheyenne.  That following morning we toured the downtown area and the Union Station, which is being remodeled nowadays.

Here is a photo of the State Capitol in Cheyenne.  This is a side view, as the front entrance was being remodeled at the time.


We left Cheyenne taking Route 25 South, towards Denver, where it connects to 70 West towards Grand Junction.  We decided to come back to Denver later on and spend a few days there, as we were looking forwards to hugs the kids already...

When we arrived in Grand Junction, we went out to lunch with Pauly and then he took us to a wine tasting at a local vineyard, Two Rivers Winery. 

The following day we all went sightseeing in the mountains, following my son Pauly, who has been transformed from a beach boy (born in Miami) to a true mountain goat!  He's in his glory at work, which is working for the USGS, tracking & analyzing water flows, etc..  Here he is with his wife Jenny and little Amber, who is now three years old. 
Here we are at the summit of the Grand Mesa National Park.  Look at the elevation.  Grandma & Granpa are enjoying the kiddies playing in the snow.
After driving on the Grand Mesa, we headed to Cedaredge, for a nice, warm lunch.  Here we have a cozy photo of Pauly and Jenny at Spruce Lodge Bar & Grill.
The following day, more mountain climbing!  Obviously I'm already feeling it and Mark is fresh as a lettuce.  Ha, ha!  Here we are all leaning against the Miracle Rock, also known as Potato Rock, in the Colorado Monument.  I kept wondering when will it fall?  Hence it's name...
We spent a few days in Grand Junction with the kids and then headed towards Denver, to give them a break from us... Ha, ha!  On the way to Denver, on route 70 East, Mark took this shot of one of the many mountains we pass along the way.  We stayed 10 days in Denver, going by many of the places we used to frequent when we lived there. 
We stayed at the Adams Mark in downtown.  Did a lot of walking and took the little commuter train along 16th street. Here is a photo of me, by the Wynkoop Brewery, where every now & then, we used to gather with Mark's co-workers at Timet after work.  This is just one of the many breweries in downtown Denver and never mind in the state!  They have the best micro-breweries right here in Colorado! 
One evening we visited Mark's aunt Dorothy, from Mark's father side.  She lives in Longmont, which is about 1 hour north of Denver.  Aunt Dorothy invited us for a delicious dinner and her daughter Jenny, her son Jacob and her boyfriend Mark joined us that evening.  We had a wonderful time reminiscing about the times we got together, etc.  And little Jacob even played the piano for us!

A few days later we visited Carl Almgren and his family, who live in Ft. Collins.  It was great seeing them and their children so grown since we last saw them.  Carl is an old buddy of Mark from back in the school days when they lived in NY.

Here is Mark with Drew and Gia Yoder.  They worked with Mark at Titanium Metals back in '97 to '98.  Drew & Gia were dating at the time and last year they got married at the little Church of the Holy Ghost, which shares the land with the tall building.  See photo below.

We had lunch with Drew & Gia and shared a very nice time with them.  It's very nice to see friends you haven't seen in a while...

Here is a photo of the Church of the Holy Ghost, which was erected on 1924 and "1999 Broadway", the new building, which was built on 1984, sixty years later.  You can't notice from this photo, but "1999's" architecture is very unique.  At one point, on a corner, the modern building extends outwards, where the roof of the church ends.  As if they both share air space.  The Church below,  symbolically supporting the new structure.  A very ingenious architectural concept! 
Here is Denver's State Capitol building.  When we lived here, we took most our guests to tour this beautiful building, which as a Gold dome.  The interior is very striking with it's beauty and portrayals of the Western frontier.  Denver was a very important city since it's early beginnings and it is still today.
The Denver City Hall.  Beautiful building, right across from the State Capitol.  At Christmas time they decorate it real beautiful and has changing light displays.

Close by is the Denver Mint, where they mint/make coins and the Denver Museum of Arts, which I used to enjoy with it's many permanent and visiting art displays. Also, Molly Brown's house (she was a survivor of the Titanic) and many other touristy stops in the area.


Golden, Colorado.  Just a few miles west of Denver.  Here Adolf Coors started his brewing empire.  He had come from Germany as a teenager stowaway.  He found work brewing beer here in Colorado (it was a big enterprise then, good for satisfying the thirsts for all the miners in the area.  Years later he started a brewing business with a partner and eventually ended up buying him out.


During the prohibition era, Adolf Coors changed production and started producing Malt, which is a by-product of beer!  and sold it to candy makers (they still do!) He didn't lay off one worker then.

Here is the entrance to the Coors Brewery.  Here they brew all the beer that Coors sells.  Some gets bottled here at this plant, some it sent out to other bottling centers for bottling. 

After spending ten great days in Denver, we drove back west and stopped in Breckenridge an again we reminisced about the good old times we spent here during skiing season (Mark, not me.. I don't have ski legs.. ha, ha...) and the summer and fall festivals in the mountains.  Here is a photo (the larger size is really pretty!) of the sun setting on one of Breckenridge's peaks.


Here is the Gondola next to the condo apt. we stayed at in Breckenridge, at the Beaver Run Resort.  They were making snow all throughout the night, therefore the snow you see..
John Falkiewicz and his wife Nancy.  John worked with Mark at Timet in Denver and used to commute from Breckenridge to Denver every day.  That's was a good hour plus of driving up and down mountains each way, with lots of traffic along Rt.70!  John is now self contracting construction work with his wife and they are very happy, as they both enjoy skiing in the winter season, when construction stops and they are free to enjoy the sport.  Good life, John! 
We came back to Grand Junction just in time to see little Forrest perform in his school choir.  Proud grandparents as we are, we didn't want to miss the experience, so we hurried back to Grand Junction.  All the kids gave a great performance and of course, they received a big applause from their audience.  Little Forrest was so comical, his shirt came out from his pants, as he was moving while singing.  We all got a kick out of him.
The weekend after the play we all went to Aspen/ Snowmass for the weekend.  We rented a condo apt. and were so lucky it snowed and snowed! This was only late October!  Here is Forrest by the Maroon Bells, which is a very beautiful area close to Aspen/Snowmass.
After playing in the snow, they all came back tired and ready to relax next to the fireplace.  Grandma (me) had stayed in the apt. cooking.  On Sunday they had to go back home, but Mark and I stayed, as we wanted to enjoy a little more.
We returned to Grand Junction for Halloween.  We wanted to see the kids dressed up in their costumes.  Here they are, Amber, Papi, Mami y Forrest.
On November 1st, we took off to Moab, Utah.  This was the start of our return trip, even though Moab is actually west of Grand Junction, but we wanted to spend a few days there, as we had visited Moab before, but didn't have the chance to see all the sights in the area.  The photo to your left is the view from the cabin we rented at Sorrel River Ranch, in the Castle Valley region, 20+ miles north of Moab.  As you can imagine..  We took many baths in that Jacuzzi..  We must have been the cleanest couple in the place!  Ha, ha!
Markie taking a breath and enjoying the sights below the opening of the Mesa Arch, which is located in the "Islands in the Sky" section of the Canyonlands National Park
Here I am sitting on a mountain ledge, at the Dead Horse Point State Park.  What you see below is where the Colorado and the Green River meet.  All the views around the Canyonlands and the Arches Natl. parks, are so breathtaking! 
Mark hiked to the Delicate Arch.  It was a very hard climb for over a mile.  Me...  I declined and sent him off with a kiss, while I stayed behind watching him climb 'till he disappeared out of my sight.  Then I took my time to go back to the car and spent some time reading quietly, about our next stops coming up.  It was very chilly and windy afternoon, so I was happy to stay behind.  When Mark returned he was euphoric about the beauty of this arch.  He took many more photos.  This is just one of many.
You are now seeing the North and South Arches.  These are located in the Windows Section of the Arches National Park.  One of the many, many beautiful arches.  I chose to show you this one because it almost looks like a face, doesn't it?
We were on our way out of the Moab area.  Just checked out of Sorrel River Ranch. We had a wonderful and very romantic stay there.  We would highly recommend it to anyone visiting the Moab region. 
The Wilson Arch.  Driving south on Route 191, we pass this Arch, which is the only one located by a road and outside the national parks.
From Moab we drove directly to Durango, Colorado and stayed there for a couple of days sightseeing this charming little western town.  Close by is the Mesa Verde National Park, which is famous for it's cliff dwellings.  Many of these date back to the year 1000!  The Navajos lived here at one time, then moved south, towards Arizona and New Mexico, seeking a milder climate.
They left behind these dwellings that were carved and built upon the ledges of the mountains.  Unfortunately, these photos cannot show the simple, yet complex architecture of these early homes.
The Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad.  It only runs in the summer and in the winter, during skiing season.  It is nowadays owned by a couple who live in Coral Gables, FL. 

From Durango we drove east towards Pagosa Springs, where we stopped for lunch at a Mexican restaurant in town, overlooking the Natural Springs Resort, with it's many pools and people wading about, even though it was a cold day.

After our stop in Pagosa, we drove south, towards Santa Fe, New Mexico.  There we stayed at "Las Palomas", a resort of "Casitas" (or little houses) that share a courtyard. Each with their separate entrances, offering privacy.  We enjoyed staying there very much and their Waffle breakfast was unforgettable!  Never before had we had waffles so light, yet crispy.  A great combination.  Is it the altitude?  Or the water?  We tried many waffles at other hotels that used the same waffle maker, but none came close to it..
The above photo of a display of red chilies, which very common in the streets of Santa Fe.  They are everywhere!  We thought we should buy them later in Albuquerque, but there they only had the larger chilies, which were not as pretty.  The church to the left is the St. Francis Cathedral in Santa Fe.  Beautiful inside.  We spoke to the artist who was working on renovating the old frescos painted on the walls.  He was doing a beautiful and very delicate work.
These stairs are the famous "Miraculous" stairs inside the Church of the Loretto, in Santa Fe.  Legend has it that after the church was built, the architect left without building stairs to go to where the organ was supposed to be, so a carpenter passed by one day and built this stairs without even one nail, as he didn't carry any with him..
  From charming Santa Fe we drove down to Albuquerque, which we found nice, but not as quaint as Santa Fe.


Here is Mark, next to a "Fat Boy" atomic bomb, like the one used in Hiroshima, at the Atomic Museum in Albuquerque, New Mexico

After a day in Albuquerque, we were on the road again.  This time we took 40 East, towards the east coast...  We drove through 40 and crossed the remainder of New Mexico and then a portion of Texas.  Our next stop for a couple of days was Oklahoma City.  We arrived there at nigh time and eventually found a place to stay.  There was a convention in town and the better hotels in downtown were booked.  We checked in and at the advice of the reservations clerk, we went to eat dinner at the Cimarron Steak House.  What a nice surprise we had in store!  Not only was the steak superb, but they also had a live band playing country music and a big dancing floor.  Dinner and entertainment at a very reasonable price!
The photo above, is Mark posing next to a Cougar  at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum.  Very beautiful and elegant  museum, showing how was life in the western frontier. 

The photo to the left is the front entrance of the Oklahoma City Memorial.  We went inside the building next doors, which nowadays shows the timetable of events.  From before the terrorism, to how it was solved.  It was all very moving and many people had tears in their eyes.

The Bricktown area in downtown Oklahoma City. It's a very lively area, that offers lots of bars, restaurants and little stores.  They said that on weekends there's quite a crowd.
From Oklahoma City we kept driving east on 40, past Arkansas and into Memphis, TN, which was our next stop. Mark wasn't too happy to stop and see Graceland, Elvis Presley's mansion, but I insisted that we should see it..  Here it is on the photo to your left.

In Memphis (of all the places!) we found a little Cuban restaurant and of course, we stopped and ate a very nice dinner.

We then decided not to stay in Memphis, but to drive over to Nashville and stop there for the night.  The following morning we met with Donna, Mark's sister, who is living there.  Donna took us around on a tour of Nashville and we were both impressed that it was so nice.  Mark took this photo of  Donna and me while we were at the Crazy Horse Saloon.  Nashville being the Country Music Capital of the States, there are lots of bars & restaurants in downtown with live music daily.
Here was another of the many stops we made that night, sightseeing around the "Honky Tonky" area in downtown.  All of them were very pleasant and it was fun hoping from one place, to the next.  Thanks Donna, we had a memorable time!

We left Nashville early the next morning, as we wanted to reach Asheville, North Carolina, by noontime, to enjoy a day at the Biltmore Mansion. 


We decided to stay at the Inn located in the grounds, which is also owned and managed by the Vanderbilt family.  We had lunch, took a tour of their winery and later on that night, we took the Holiday Candlelight Tour of the mansion, which was decorated for the holidays and they also had musicians playing holiday music from the era.  This was a great way to finish our trip.  By the following afternoon we were on the road nonstop to Baltimore.  Ending our six week vacation.

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