After an unpleasant stay overnight at the Plaza Inn Hotel in Glenwood Springs (Seriously, don’t stay there), I was up to contemplate the potential error of spending only one night in a location. Without a full day to explore it meant anything I did had to be done with an eye on the time, as missing the train at 2pm would have been quite disastrous!
From my hotel window in Glenwood Springs I could see the cable car for the Glenwood Caverns Adventure park. I decided this would be a fun thing to do, so wandered along. It’s a theme park at the top of a hill, with a bunch of thrill rides. The only one that appealed to be was the Coaster, think the Alpine Toboggan at Funfields but on steroids. Sadly, you couldn’t purchase single rides and had to buy a $54 pass. So I settled for the $16 ‘tram’ ride in the cable car up the hill. Not quite sure why they call it a tram, it doesn’t resemble any other tram I’ve seen!
After a look around the top, and some photos from the observation deck, I headed back down the mountain on the cable car. Decently steep with a bit of speed to it, so I got a thrill ride of a sort in the end anyway! Next plan was to visit one of the hot springs locations. This was the fancier of the two as recommended by the hotel guy, and another 5 minutes walk on from the cable car. All was looking good until they tried to take my payment and both credit cards were declined. The assistant reckoned they may have been blocked! Yikes. Sadly, no entry to the hot springs, a sad walk back to town, and the sudden fear that my cards may no longer be working.
Thankfully the cards were fine, and I retrieved some more identical looking bank notes from an ATM, and as I was back in town, decided to visit the other original hot spring location. This was definitely worth doing, they have a huge pool and a smaller hotter therapy pool at 40 degrees. There was only the slight occasional whiff of sulfur to remind you that you were bathing in mineral-y goodness. Unfortunately, I managed to get a decent spread of sunburn from my time in the pool, something that made its presence quite well known on the subsequent 5.5 hour train trip to Denver!
Reboarding the California Zephyr at the station, this time I was in a coach seat up front for the daylight ride to Denver. Wasn’t a packed train so I had two seats to myself, indistinguishable from the business class fare earlier on the LA to SF run, except no pillow, water, or meal coupon this time. The scenery was beautiful as we rolled alongside the Colorado and later other rivers, and passed through stunning canyons.
I remember in Scotland, you would have fleeting glimpses of wide open rivers that were beautifully framed by trees, but passing so quickly you could never properly enjoy the view (or get a good photo). The difference here is that thanks to the geography, often the best route for the train to pass through these hills and mountains is in the canyons made by the rivers themselves. As such you find yourself following the river turn after turn, with great views and scenery changing gradually as you go. I had mistakenly though after leaving the Pacific Ocean that I wouldn’t see much water from the train, but thankfully have been proven delightfully wrong.
After being most disappointed with the Glenwood Springs hotel, I decided to look a little closer at the hotel I’d booked for Denver. Had selected a Ramada thinking that as a chain hotel they would be reasonably consistent and reliable. Delving into the reviews of the Ramada Denver I’d booked however revealed it to be a rather terrible flea hole with mention of bedbugs. Not sure how I missed that when booking it back in Broadford. Deciding that I really didn’t need a hotel that scored 46% terrible ratings on Trip Advisor, I decided to spoil myself and rebook 2 nights at the DoubleTree hotel in Denver.
I have increasingly been thinking that I have bitten off more than I can chew with this trip. The original plans were for 70 days across the US, back across Canada, then down to LA. Am now pondering cutting the trip down to 40-43 days and returning home after either my New York or Boston leg. This still lets me achieve the bucket-list item of cross continent train travel, and checking out the significant places of interest in the US, and would mean another trip to Canada at some point in the future. Despite the costs of changing flight and losing one accommodation fee, this would also relieve the pressure on the budget meaning I could spend a bit more in the time I’m in the US and not try to guard the pennies as much.