Jane and I were anxious to undertake a road trip to Arizona in the spring of 2016. In 2011 Jane presented me with a spring training trip as a birthday gift, but at the time she was employed by a bank in Denver and unable to get off work, so my son Dan accompanied me on a long weekend escape to Phoenix where we attended two spring training games involving the Colorado Rockies. The Sunday game took place at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, and Dan and I obtained a look at the brand new complex that was shared by the Rockies and Diamondbacks located just north of Scottsdale. The weekend was a blast, and Jane was jealous of our getaway.
I was feeling sufficiently recovered from my January 27 surgery, so we made the last minute decision to embark on a mid-March road trip to the sunny climes of Arizona. As it turned out, our son Dan scheduled a ski trip to Colorado from March 16 – March 20. He planned to fly into Montrose, CO and then travel south to Telluride. Interestingly his airfare was less expensive to fly to Montrose compared with Denver DIA. Dan’s ski equipment was stashed at our house in Denver, so Jane and I decided to time our trip so that we could transport Dan’s gear, shuttle him from Montrose to Telluride, and spend some time with him before continuing on to Arizona.
Jane made reservations at the Holiday Inn Express for Tuesday night March 15, and we made the five hour drive across Colorado. The weather was cooperative, so we decided to stop and explore the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park along the way. The side trip to the national park was only five miles off the main route, and we arrived at the first pullout along the South Rim in the late afternoon. Despite the recent mild March weather, a thin layer of snow remained and covered the canyon walls.
After a brief peek over the canyon rim, we proceeded to the parking lot outside the visitor center, but here we were disappointed to discover that the center closed at 4PM, and it was 4:10 when we arrived. Despite this minor setback, we were resilient travelers, so we parked and hiked down a short trail to another overlook. Some of the trail was snow packed, so we exercised considerable caution with each step. This visitor center overlook was far superior to the first stop, and when we moved to the small platform at the point of the canyon rim, we peered deep into the chasm. Here we saw the clear turbulent flows of the Gunnison River as it rushed and tumbled along the rocky canyon floor. I am convinced that this section of the river receives light fishing pressure due to its remote and deep location. This of course conjured images of large uneducated trout willing to rise and slurp large attractor patterns. Perhaps some day I will explore the river downstream from the East Portal, but on Tuesday I could only dream.
Jane and I snapped a series of photos of the amazing natural wonder and then returned to the car. The remainder of South Rim Road was closed for the winter, so we retraced our path to highway 50 and continued a short distance to Montrose, where we found the Holiday Inn Express and checked in for the night. For some reason there was a mix up with the online reservation that required correction, but after a few minutes of confusion, we possessed our keys and found our room.
On Tuesday evening we found the Horsefly Brewing Company and chose it as our dinner option. The restaurant was a small casual eatery, and we enjoyed some tasty fare along with a craft brew before retiring for the evening. Tuesday was a great start to our nine day road trip to the southwest.