Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Surrender -- a train ride to Grand Junction, CO

Within a couple of days out of Price, UT, the daytime temperatures rising, I became acutely aware of the importance of finding shelter from the sun in the afternoons.  At about 25 dusty miles from Green River (especially dusty through a 2-3 mile road construction site; once again, lots of parked equipment and no people...) I took a ride with a wind-blown bodhisattva from New Mexico, wearing bib overalls and driving a rattly small  piick-up truck.  Rode with him the rest of the way into town, and was delivered right to the state park camping area where shade was available, as were showers!  It was 100 degrees and the weather forecast was calling for 'triple digit' temps over the next 10 days; 106 degrees one day?!  Studying the map was discouraging; just one service station on the 110 mile stretch to Grand Junction, and no shade in the picture.  Hmm.  'Done for' last month by serious thunder storms, and now 'done for' by heat. Re-grouping/rethinking seems to be the story of my life just  now.  So what were the options?  If I were to continue walking, finding daily shelter would be primary, and the prospects for any sort of cover in that next stretch were not optimal.

From Nevada to western Colorado people have spoken of an 'unseasonably' wet spring season after a dry winter.  And now that the storm systems seem to have blown over the temperatures have turned abruptly, and are now hotter than usual for early summer. Just my luck...

Conveniently enough, though most of the trains I've seen have been freight trains, Amtrak has a stop in Green River; it's the 'California Zephyr' route I have ridden several times in the past.  In a burst of nostalgia (and survivalist practicality) I decided to take the train to Grand Junction, even though it meant that I would not walk into Colorado.  As I remembered, the train runs alongside the Colorado River for much of the 2 hour trip, in a wide red-rock canyon.  Beautiful scenery and the river rafters were out in force.

Daytime temperatures are still topping 100 degrees.  However, from Grand Junction I can plot a course with the more frequent service points (and towns) as goals, rather then thinking in terms of daily distances. This will help me get to the higher elevations of the Rockies, where it will be somewhat cooler.  The road also follows the Colorado River for much of the way, so I'm hoping for access to some shade!  Walking and stopping earlier in the day is the right strategy, assuming that there is someplace reasonable to stop!  In the meantime, as I spend yet another couple of days focused on gear and on relaxing(!) I am grateful to have discovered a hostel-type situation in town, with reasonable rates and good people.  A big thank you! to the 'historic' Hotel Melrose.

                        Am enjoying all of the art in the downtown area of Grand Junction.

Hotel Melrose - est. 1908

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