Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Top Ten Lists - Excursions, Attractions, Tours

Roger here...  You have already seen lists of our favorite hikes and kayak trips,  the next lists will cover our favorite excursions (extended day-long adventures),  attractions (shorter experiences), and tours (led by a tour guide).

There is some obvious bleed-over among the categories since they do not all fit neatly into a single box, but our favorites do appear on one of the three lists.

As with our other lists, we are only ranking the experiences we have had in the past five years while traveling in our motor home.  We have obviously missed many great things.  We have not been to Canada, the northeast, Montana, Nevada (in the motor home), and most of Idaho. 


1.  Durango - Silverton Railway, Durango, Colorado.

This all-day excursion was more like a luxury cruise than a train trip.  Our hostess provided libations, snacks and commentary throughout the trip from Durango to the mining town of Silverton and then back.  Our open-air car added to the experience, as we occasionally brushed soot off our clothes.

The train hugged the cliff sides as it climbed to higher elevations.   We had plenty of time to explore Silverton and enjoy lunch at a western style restaurant, complete with a honkytonk piano player.

Our hostess and the amazing scenery made the experience unforgettable.

2.  Capitol Reef National Park, Nottom - Bullfrog Road, Utah.

We rented a jeep for this all-day trip.  We have already covered the great hike we took during this adventure.  These pictures emphasize the sights of the water pocket fold that we had from the jeep.  This may very well be the most colorful geological place we have been.

We made several stops along the isolated dirt road, including a stop for a picnic.

So nice to just stop and gaze at the beauty of this place.

The colors even permeated the dirt road.  

I would do this trip again in a heartbeat.

3.  Wildlife Loop.  Custer State Park.  Custer, South Dakota.

The animals were the stars of this drive through the green prairie of the Badlands.  Pronghorns, as pictured above, were prevalent the entire way.  Bandido enjoyed barking at them from his perch in the back seat of the car.

We drove through herds of bison.  Bandido pretty much ignored them.

We brought a bag of apples for the burros that we hoped to see.  The apples went fast as the burros surrounded our car.  Bandido sat quietly in the middle of the back seat and didn't move a muscle  when these large-headed guys leaned into the car to grab the apples.  Funny to see the burros put him in his place :-).

4.  Tidal Pools,  Seal Rock State Park, near Newport, Oregon.

We needed to watch the tidal charts to find the maximum low tide that would provide the best viewing.

As midwesterners, this was a completely new experience.  We did not realize that the anemones would be so colorful.

We also did not know that the living starfish were orange and purple.  

Watching the turbulent waves breaking on the shoreline rocks was mesmerizing.

5.  Pacific Coast Highway,  between Morro Bay and Monterey, California.  

Morro Bay was our base for this winding trip in the car.  Amazing views greeted us around every bend in the road.

6.  Richard Brecada Sculptures, in the desert near Borrego Springs, California.

After a strenuous hike in the desert that Dianne did not particularly enjoy, these giant sculptures that dot the desert certainly did save the day.  

It was difficult to not be in awe of these free artistic creations.
Each sculpture is crafted from metal.  To give you a sense of perspective,  the smaller camel in this photo is taller than me.  OK, I am not very tall, but you get the idea.

The stage coach below is located nearer to Brecada's studio near Temecula, California.

7.  Pictured Rocks National Park.  Upper Peninsula,  Munising, Michigan.  We boarded an excursion boat and headed to the seats on the upper deck to enjoy the shoreline of Lake Superior.

If you use your imagination, you can see a variety of pictures in the various colors of the rock formations.

A boat trip is required to see this unique cliff-side shore line.

8.  Sault Ste. Marie Lock Cruise.  Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan.  

We boarded another excursion boat to go through
the locks on both the U.S. and Canadian sides.  We seemed awfully insignificant in these huge chambers of water.  

It was fun traveling through the same locks that the enormous freighters use.

9.  Bachelor Loop.  Creede, Colorado.

We decided long ago that it would be cheaper to rent a jeep than buy one when we wanted to travel on dirt roads.  We have not hesitated to do so.

On this day we traveled through the mountains near Creede, Colorado to explore abandoned mines, an isolated museum, and a ghost town.
A particularly bumpy detour  from the main route led us to a reclaimed mine and museum.  Tables of mineral samples surrounded the museum.  An interesting character rebuilt the buildings surrounding the old mine and collected a variety of artifacts.  We could not resist purchasing a couple of samples to bring home.

My choice.... Opal from Australia.
Dianne's choice.... apatite.

The green meadow to the left is actually the site of Bachelor City, once a booming mining town with thousands of residents.  Dianne had fun finding rusty remnants of the town among the wildflowers.

10.  Three Capes Loop.  Near Tillamook, Oregon. We hopped in the car with our long-time friends Jay and Nancy to enjoy this day on the Oregon coast.

Typical of the coast in this part of Oregon,  the sea stacks and other rock formations led our eyes to views of the Pacific.

The Cape Meares Lighthouse was a picturesque highlight of the day.

A little later, Tillamook ice cream was the epicurean highlight.


Palm Springs Aerial Tram.  Palm Springs, California.

Our daughter, Robyn, and her boyfriend, Atul, came to see us during our visit to Palm Springs.  We wanted to do something fun. 
The temperature in Palm Springs (below) was in the 100s.  The temperature at the top was 30 degrees cooler.  

That evening Robyn and Atul joined us for dinner.

Pikes Peak Cog Railway.  Colorado Springs, Colorado.
A restful trip to the top of the mountain, followed by a half hour of altitude dizziness.  I am clinging to the rocks to remain upright.

Grand Canyon Railway, Williams, Arizona.

We boarded the dogs at the doggie daycare at the railway station so that we could ride the train to the south rim.
We had time to walk into the canyon for a short distance, while we carefully watched our time so as not to miss the return trip.

Needle Highway.  Custer State Park.  Custer, South Dakota.

Back to the Black Hills for a scenic drive.....
... and a walk through the boulders around a scenic lake.

Million Dollar Highway, north of Ouray, Colorado.

Billed as the most scenic drive in America, this twisty, up and down stretch of road certainly lives up to expectations.

We needed to spend more time here than the single day that we allotted.

Enough for now.  The excursions list is long enough, so we'll wait until next time to cover our next top ten lists, the promised attractions and tours.

1 comment:

Bill and Nancy said...

Amazing road trips!! Like the idea of RENTING a Jeep:o))