They say “there ain’t no fool like an old fool”. Say it with me four times, as there are four of us old fools fixin’ to head West, on our Lonesome Dove High Tour, version II. We’re calling it “The Last Roundup”, since we are all in our golden years of retirement, and riding out while we are still able to saddle up (or get in a truck, at least!)
Four lifelong friends, Bud Keirn, Jimmy Reed, Virgil Cook and I will assume the identities of Larry McMurtry’s most memorable characters from his masterpiece “Lonesome Dove”, as we drive our mythical cattle herd from South Texas towards the Montana Territories, hoping this time to catch Blue Duck somewhere along the dry llanos, and also hoping to figure out just what Augustus McCrae had in mind when he inscribed the Hat Creek Cattle Company sign with this bit of Latin at the bottom:
We will depart from Bud’s home in Mountain Home, AR this coming Thursday, Aug. 5th, for a trip expected to cover about 6,000 miles, through some of the most rugged and most beautiful parts of the American West. Our route will take us across Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, and up into Utah, where we will see some of these natural wonders:
MONUMENT VALLEY, UTAH
THE ARCHES NATIONAL MONUMENT
From Utah, we will enter Colorado from the back door (from the West) and work our way down to Gunnison, passing by Vail and the Maroon Bells:
Then from Gunnison, we climb up to Taylor Park Reservoir, elevation about 8,000 feet:
and then up over the Continental Divide via Cottonwood Pass, elev. 12,300 feet).
Along the way we’ll pitch a tent in a few places and sleep under the stars, never more brilliant than above 10,000 feet in a pitch black Rocky Mountain night!
Next stop will be a drive up America’s highest paved road, some 14,247 feet up Mt. Evans, near Idaho Springs, CO.
SUMMIT LAKE, FROM ATOP MT. EVANS
The next morning we will take a spin up “Oh My God Road”, a one-lane gravel ribbon that climbs and twists 3,500 feet above Idaho Springs to a remote ghost town and abandoned mine. I will attempt to bring back the first pictures from this little exercise in terror, since no one with a camera has ever returned from this drive. You can see their carcasses and rusted out vehicles several thousand feet below in the tops of the aspens! Did I mention that we are old fools? And with a dose of Southern Redneck mixed in (times 4), I feel sure that someone will utter “Watch this sh*t” as Bud slips the shift lever into 4WD and we begin the climb.
Next up is a loop to the north, over Berthoud Pass to Winter Park and Frazer,
and then over to Rocky Mountain National Park near Estes, CO:
ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK
Finally we will head back towards Denver to drop Jimmy Reed at the Denver International Airport, as he has to get back to Ole Miss for the start of English classes that he teaches there. But one last stop before that will be Professor Goodbellows Antique Portrait Studio, where we will have our trip immortalized on film, as Jimmy and I did 9 years ago:
After we deposit Cap’n McCrae on the airplane to Memphis, the remaining 3 travelers will work our way across more of the west, perhaps Jackson Hole, WY and the Grand Tetons, maybe Yellowstone, maybe a run through Sturgis, SD where they have a few motorcycles that week-end, or maybe just parts unknown.
I will try to post daily photos on my FB page, and also Junior will keep a daily dairy again, and we’ll post that as well. Wish us luck, we are gonna need a lot of it, I have a feeling. But we’ll have fun, four old guys! As Augustus said, “the older the violin, the sweeter the music!”
–Cap’n Woodrow F. Call —