What’s the difference between Historic and Run-down?

johnwayneApparently, the answer is a picture of John Wayne hanging on the lobby wall.  When I was looking for a place to stay while visiting Arches National Park, I decided to go for local flavor instead of playing it safe.  The “historic” Apache Motel popped out of the list as something different.  Well, if different means staying in a place that feels like it hasn’t seen much TLC since its heyday in the 1950’s then this one fits the bill!

Though this wasn’t the most miserable hotel I’ve ever seen, I wouldn’t recommend it to friends and family.  The only thing I found somewhat charming were the vintage neon signs (like the one shown above) that are spread around downtown Moab.  If the spirit of “The Duke” still lives here, the only evidence might be that someone seemed to be stomping around in cowboy boots all night in the room above us.

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The road from Arches National Park to Moab

Moab itself is a pleasant little town but I can’t imagine what it must be like during the busy season.  While we were there, the streets were humming with Jeeps, SUVs and Dune Buggies and visitors strolled the sidewalks browsing through gift shops or sat lounging in the many restaurants.

This must be the right time of year to visit the National Parks.  It seems that there are many more people in this area for the off-road desert adventures as opposed to families going to the parks.  I understand the lines to get in the park during the Summer can be miles long.  We barely needed to wait at all.  The only down-side was that it’s the rainy season so weather was a little unpredictable.

At the end of the day though, I would love to come back here and spend much more time visiting those magnificent parks!   (But, I think a different hotel next time.)



Chapel on the Rock

On the way both in and out of Rocky Mountain National Park, we took Colorado Route 7, which winds through the area west of Boulder.  I noticed a historical marker on the way up but didn’t really see this amazing stone structure until we were headed back down toward I-70.

Completed in 1936, the St Catherine of Siena Chapel stands atop a large rock outcropping at the foot of Mount Meeker near Allenspark, Colorado.  The site was discovered in 1916 by a Catholic priest – Monsignor Joseph Bosetti, who was searching for what he thought was the impact site of a falling star.

RMNP_May 12 2016_0005Mount Meeker seen from St Malo

It took him 20 years to see the church completed.  The land on which it sits was donated by a wealthy Denver businessman – Oscar Malo.  A Catholic retreat center was built on the land surronding the chapel and is known as St Malo.  The chapel which was designated a historic site in 1999, has had its ups and downs in recent years.

In 1993, the chapel was visited by Pope John Paul II  during his visit to Denver for World Youth Day.  The pope prayed in the chapel and blessed it, which is good because it has since been ravaged by fire, flood and mudslides.  These natural disasters have left the immediate landscape looking like a war zone and caused the closing of the St Malo Retreat and Conference Center.

RMNP_May 12 2016_0004Saint Catherine of Siena Chapel
Allenspark, Colorado

I’ve Been Working on the Railroad

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On our last full day in Colorado, we had made plans to visit relatives in the Denver area.  The trip from Rocky Mountain National Park to Dever is less than 2 hours so, we had some extra time and decided to make a side trip to see where my wife’s great-grandparents lived.

Silver Plume is a small mining town a bit west of Denver.  It’s pretty much a ghost town now, population – just under 200.  One of the few things that is still up and running is this narrow-gage railroad that runs between Silver Plume and it’s slightly larger neighbor, Georgetown.  On the day we arrived, the railroad was not operating.  (Most things in Silver Plume are only open between Memorial Day and Labor Day.)  It was fun though, to watch the maintenance crew work on two of the locomotive engines.

There’s always something interesting to see even when it’s not what you expected.

Georgetown Loop Railroad
Silver Plume Station

Georgetown Loop RR website