Canada 7, 24th June 2006

In the morning I called in at the Pioneer Town museum in Cedaredge on the Grand Mesa Scenic Byway. I just noticed the sign while passing and as you know both the words "visitor information" and "museum" are irresistible to me. I had told several visitor information offices where I was going, nobody mentioned this museum. It does not get a mention in the main Colorado vacation guide, nor my (oldish) copy of the AAA guide. And you know what? It is probably the nicest little museum I have ever been to. It could give lessons to many, many, larger and better funded museums on clarity of thought and organisation.

It kept me occupied for all the morning plus a chunk of the afternoon. Why is it so good? Everything is clearly and sensibly labelled and explained. There were bits and pieces of fascinating relics all over the place. Just about everything on show was interesting, well explained, and tidily presented. Note the chair, the cards, the poker chips!

There are simple interactive exhibits. You are allowed to pull the rope to ring the school bell. Now you can't get a lot simpler than that but I bet the kids love it. There is honkytonk piano music playing in the bar. It is obvious a lot of people over a long period of time have taken a lot of care and thought in the presentation of their exhibits.

The museum is still alive. Within the museum they have a new chapel, with a world class digital organ, they hold weekly recitals. They have an old barn, the ground floor is used for private functions. I can't tell it all here, you need to go and see it.

On the drive up to Cedaredge, and after, I seemed to be getting noise from my transmission. Then I looked back. Everything was rather smaller and looking at my papers I was climbing from 6,000 ft to 10,000 ft.

Eventually I reached a point with an amazing view. Unfortunately amazing views don't come out on photographs, and this is the best I can do, stitching 3 photographs together.

The Grand Mesa is beautiful. A huge plateau at 10,000 ft, with 300 lakes so they say.

I stopped and took a shower at an RV park ($2) and after felt I was able to come close enough to chat to some residents, there for a couple of days with their grandson. They gave me a fresh caught trout, hey, it was delicious. Thank you brief friends from the Grand Mesa!

There are lots of campsites for $10 night but here is where I parked for free. This is the lake to the south.

I had to walk about 30 yards to take this photo of the lake to the north.

And looking out the back door was OK too.

Well you can't win them all! This was the view from the front. A road leveller.

Next morning I stopped and looked at more vast views. The really vast views didn't come out on the photos though, the distant mountains were just too distant, and too faint. So here's some lakes.

And again.

Just be happy I didn't take photos of all 300 lakes............

After dropping back down from 10,000 ft, the end of the Scenic Byway ran through a valley, a tributary of the Colorado River, totally different scenery but pretty good all the same.

I went to the History Museum in Grand Junction. A fascinating hotch potch of stuff, even a balloon basket, and a tower to gain a high view of the city. I continued on towards Fruita. Oops. But I needed a liquor store to buy some wine and by coincidence that store was right next to the garage where I spent 3 days broken down 2 years ago, when the mechanic changing my starter motor shorted out all my electrics and even after his efforts it took the expertise of 3 more garages to get everything running correctly. The garage had gone out of business and was for sale.

I continued west then turned north on the 139. My map had it marked as a pretty road. It was. There were several interesting side roads but I thought I would continue nearer to the top of the pass, 8,500 ft. Sure enough, near the top, there was a side road, and only after a few hundred yards a decent parking spot.

There was something on a log at the back of the area. A cycling helmet clipped to a neat bag holding a tent. I imagined the cyclist slogging to the top of this pass, camping for the night, then rushing out in the morning for the long glide back down the other side, then finding out he had forgotten to load these items. I can imagine the things he might have thought. Oh wow, I feel for him!

I looked at my forward possible routes and noticed the Flaming Gorge was, possibly, ahead. I think that was suggested to me years and yeas ago by Don Piccard as one of the places I should see on a Western US tour. On the strength of that vague memory I shall divert from my direct route to Salt Lake City, and hope that I remembered right, and that he was right.

Best regards

David Barker
On the road in the USA

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