Rocky Mountain High

“Carry on my wayward son…”  – Kansas

Leaving Cedarbrook at first light, I make my way through Missouri and on in to Kansas.  This is the first state on this trip I’ve never actually been in and didn’t know what to expect.  I had this idea of an America the Beautiful video where the amber waves of grain are blowing in the wind.  Well, at least I got the wind part right.  Cow after cow after cow, I was diving in to a fierce headwind and it actually dropped my gas mileage a full mpg.  Kansas was also the place where I set a new record for “the longest time I have continuously used cruise control.

From the time I left Kansas City, Missouri, (and I’m not exaggerating here) I only took it off cruise each time I stopped for gas, or a break.  Fast forward 10 hours of me singing to myself, moo-ing at cows, stopping for gas 5 more times and all of a sudden I crest a hill and there is the largest wind energy farm I’ve ever seen.  Thousands of acres of windmills all turning in unison.  It was really quite a site and my pics-while-driving don’t do it justice at all.  (There was nowhere to stop really.)

Oh, one side note that I didn’t plan for.   I based my gas costs on 89 grade because that’s what my Jeep must run.  It’s an engine technology thing.  Well apparently once you get past Missouri, the land of modern technology, they don’t sell 89 anymore.  You must either buy 87 or 91 grade, which is about $4.23/gal.  I stopped in one small town and they ONLY had 87.  No.  Other.  Choices.  Really?  This is 2011 right?  Oh well.  Just wait until I post the total costs.  Some Sheik owes me a complimentary palace tour for this one.  Anyway, let’s continue.  As soon as I crossed the Colorado border I immediately thought of one of my all time favorite movie quotes (because it still looked like Kansas.) From Dumb and Dumber:

The closer I get to Denver the more the Rocky Mountains come in to view.  When you first see them you think “oh those are beautiful, but not as big as I thought”.  Then you realize how far away you are.  Passing through Denver gives you a whole different perspective.

I was watching my GPS because it showed elevation.  I hit just over 11,000 feet at one point.  I reached the campground around 7:30pm, just before the office closed.  It sat at just over 7,000 feet.  I could start to feel the affects of the altitude as I got out and walked around.  I started to get a headache, and I felt myself feeling tipsy – very much resembling a slight buzz as I set up camp.  The wind was blowing and the temperature was dropping and I knew just from the fact that it had dropped 30 degrees just driving up there that this was going to be a very cold night.  I fired up my Jetboil stove, ate and packed my sleeping bag full of hand and body warmers.  I then proceeded to shoe-horn my way in to the mummy sleeping bag and seal myself off for the night.

Tomorrow is new day.

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