MY LATEST BOOK
MY COLORADO TRIP
MAY 1ST 2017
OUR ROUTE 66 TRIP TO COLORADO
By Deborah & Van Langford
Through the end of April and the beginning of May my husband and I had the joy of taking a trip travelling on parts of Route 66 to Colorado to visit my wonderful sweet friend and Facebook sister, Susan Joyner-Stumpf and her husband, Howard. We met their dogs, cats and horses named Beau, Max, Poco, a small bull dog Zorro and several more. We had a ball.
We started out from home traveling via Memphis, Tennessee to take I-40 through Arkansas and Oklahoma to the Panhandle of Texas. It took me on past memories of my father driving us from California to our home in North Carolina when my uncle Bobby Dean had been killed in a car accident. We drove Route 66 like crazy to get home. Those were trying times.
My husband, Van and I explored with delight from one landmark to another. When we arrived on Route 66 in Shamrock, Texas we were so thrilled that we stopped for the night. There in Shamrock we had dinner at Big Vern’s Steakhouse and Saloon.
The restored 40s era Conoco gas station and attached restaurant is now a museum with gift shop and very friendly attendants who provide a history lesson free of charge.
Thetall tower gracing its roof. 2- The U-Drop Inn Cafe, named by a local schoolboy in a contest that awarded him $50.00 for his idea. 3 - A retail store, never used as such, but soon taken over by the cafe folks for use as a ballroom and overflow dining room. The building was a regional attraction in its day; neon lighting, deco details and glazed ceramic tile walls. It gradually took a beating, the biggest hit coming in the 70s when it was painted red, white and blue and converted to a FINA station. The building operated successfully for most of its life, finally closing completely in the mid-1990s. The building is now owned by the town and used as a visitor center.
The landmark was on Route 66, we were visiting it now as a museum and gift shop. I could envisioned my dad stopping here for the night at the motel across the street. I was told it had been there since the 40s during the peak of Route66 popularity.We were excited to drive on to our destination of Penrose, Colorado where Susan and Howard live on their ranch. As we took a nostalgic ride on Route 66 we let the golden age of travel whisper to us through brightly colored neon signs, quaint motels, drive-in movie theaters and friendly small towns in the Panhandle of Texas. At Amarillo, Texas we headed north through a section of New Mexico on Hwy 64/87 to get to I-25 traveling towards Pueblo, Colorado. In the state of Texas, U.S. Route 66 extended across the Panhandle from its designation in 1926 to its decommissioning in 1985. Before the U.S. Route system, this route was a system of interconnected highways from New Mexico to Oklahoma. It was considered a part of the Texas highway system from New Mexico to Amarillo and a portion of the Ozark Trails. In Amarillo the Ozark route split off to a more southerly route while general low-grade roads continued east. This entire route closely paralleled the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railway. Most construction through the Panhandle was slow and remained low-grade roads through most of the 1920s.
Dwight David “Ike” Eisenhower (October 14, 1890 – March 28, 1969) was a five-star general and Supreme Allied Commander during the D-Day invasion of France in 1944. Also he became the 34th President of the United States from 1953 through 1961. General Eisenhower was in Germany and saw the autobahn and realized the United States needed a better road system. On June 29, 1956 President Eisenhower signed the law that created America’s Interstate Highway System, which is now named in his honor. Eisenhower first saw the need for a network of high-speed motorways in the United States 37 years earlier during a grueling, cross-country road trip that tested the military readiness of America’s roadways. It turned out they were not up to the task so the idea of our interstate system of roadways began to take shape.
The desert high plains were amazing. Although we knew we were in mountains with an elevation of around 5,000 feet it looked more like desert. We went through Pueblo and before we knew it we were near Penrose at the Stumpsranch.
We were so excited about being there and I got to meet the horses and I fell in love with Beau, Poco and Lazer.
The men went to Wal-Mart while Susan and I took off for our own adventure…to Coyote’s Coffee Den where they have poetry reading, plus bands inside and out depending on weather. We were able to sit and enjoy the good timeshad great coffee and a glass of wine. We had so much fun at the Coyote’s Coffee Den. It is the Royal Gorge area’s premiere coffeehouse.
Susan and I had a blast. Coyote’s Coffee Den is a true treasure being tucked away on Hwy 115 in the small town of Penrose. It is a perfect stop for lunch and drinks. Service was fast, efficient and the food was so good. We liked our quiche; salads, coffees and we topped it off with a glass of wine.
Later that week we were delighted to go on the Royal Gorge train ride complete with lunch on board.
The lunch was great and the train ride was exciting as it passed right through the mountain gorge. We saw a few mountain goats that blended into the scenery, plus a coyote or two.
It was a most spectacular rail journey through the Royal Gorge of the Rocky Mountains aboard the restored vintage railroad train. In 1905, President Teddy Roosevelt described it best as, “the trip that bankrupts the English Language.”
“All Aboard” the Pike’s Peak Cog Railway.
This 3 hour and 10 minute trip up Pike’s Peak spans over 8.9 miles of track. The first third of the trip is along Ruxton Creek in Englemann Canyon. Here the steep track follows a cascading stream through dense stands of Englemann spruce, Colorado blue spruce, and Ponderosa pine trees. However, because of deep snow on the track we were only able to travel up the mountain to 11,000 feet instead of getting to the top at over 14,000 feet.
The snow was still deep during the last week in April. It was so deep we could not travel any further. We were at the halfway point and had a rest stop for 30 minutes before travelling back down the mountain.
Roosevelt described it best as “the trip that bankrupts the English languag
Cave of the Winds
You wind your way through nearly a half-mile of Colorado caverns, experience total cave darkness and explore the wonders of the underground. Cave of the Winds Mountain Park is one of the highest show caves in the country at an elevation of 6,000 feet! It was beautiful and dark and cold, Susan and I had a hard time climbing up steep small stairs into a winding cavern that literally took our breath away. I think between exhaustion (we are not young any more ha, ha) and being claustrophobic we had to turn around and go back. We loved the gift shop though!
Our last evening in Colorado was our 19th wedding anniversary and the Stumpfs took us out for dinner at the “Black-eyed Pea” where the food was great but we were a little sad. The next day we would be leaving Colorado to travel to Branson, Missouri.
Two nights before leaving we encountered a snowstorm that dropped about 3 inches at Penrose so Van had to sweep our car.
When leaving the ranch I looked back waving at Susan who had tears running down her face. It broke my heart that I was leaving my Facebook sister of seven years. Also, my parents would have loved Susan and Howard with all the animals on their ranch.
As we left Colorado we headed towards Dodge City, Kansas on Route 50 because we wanted to see Boot Hill. However, along the way in western Kansas we saw 18 inches of snow still there from the night before. There were cars and trucks alongside the road that had been buried by snowplows in drifts up to 6 feet. Plows were still clearing parking lots of businesses as we drove by.
The snowline ended before we arrived in Dodge City where the weather was warmer. We arrived outside the Long Branch where Miss Kitty entertained Matt Dillon on “Gunsmoke.” No, we didn’t see them but I got a picture of the Long Branch and a few other reconstructed storefronts.
The exciting and unique story of early Dodge City is told daily along Front Street at the Boot Hill Museum. The area is rich in history that dates back to the Native Americans who thrived off the land and the buffalo. The establishment of the Santa Fe Trail brought settlers to the area and introduced the potential of what is known as the Great American Desert. The arrival of the U. S. Army prompted the building of Fort Dodge and soon to follow was the establishment of a rough and rowdy cattle town known as Dodge City. Through the efforts of Wyatt Earp and other peace officers, law and order was finally recognized and Dodge City became a civilized frontier town and a center of commerce on the prairie.
It was time to hit the road again so we were off to Branson, Missouri, which is one of my favorite places to visit.
We have done so much in Branson and We have Zip Lined.
No that’s not us, ha ha.
The Missouri Ozarks and Table Rock Lake combine to provide a beautiful backdrop for one of the golf world’s truly unique events at The Big Cedar Lodge.
BRANSON YACHT CLUB is where we stay.
Our favorite place to visit near Branson is the Ye Olde English Inn in Hollister, Missouri.
Back In May 2011, I had the pleasure of meeting Janet Dailey when she had just opened the Ye English Inn.
In 2010 Janet and her partners bought the then-closed Ye English Inn and began its renovation. Janet, a best-selling Author, renamed it Ye Olde English Inn, which opened on April 1, 2011. The restored twenty-one-room inn has preserved one of the major historical structures in the Branson area and has fueled the resurgence of Downing Street.
Here is Janet and I at the Old Rock Fire Place in the Inn.
“It is just beautiful,” Janet says. “We don’t have anything else like this in Hollister or Branson. We had to save it.”
Janet appreciates the craftsmanship of the rockwork, the hanging balcony, and other architectural details. Especially noteworthy are the art pieces built into the rock walls, including a fish, a ship, and a crest. She incorporated the crest into the hotel’s new logo.
During renovation, she didn’t discover any old guest books or records, but according to local lore, Harry S. Truman stayed at the inn as did Cary Grant, Bing Crosby and Clark Gable. Many celebrities came to the area for fishing vacations. Only two historical items were found: the old fishing reel in the inn’s Riverstone Restaurant and the Austin Moore ferry poster that now hangs in the inn’s Black Horse Pub. Janet says that the inn is believed to be haunted by the ghost of William Johnson, the original owner. A man in a hat and long coat is said to be seen in the lobby or on the staircase.
When we went back I was hoping to see Janet again but I found out she had passed away. I was so sad. We had lost a great lady.
The Black Horse Pub is part of the Ye Olde English Inn.
We spent a week in Branson. What a great two weeks traveling from Memphis via Route 66 through Texas, New Mexico, Colorado and finally back through Kansas to Branson. By then we were ready to head back home to Covington, Tennessee.
All had a great time.
Thank you, Howard and Susan Stumpf for showing us your section of the world. There are so many memories we have to keep. Now it’s your turn to visit us. We have your room ready for you here in Covington.