Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Back Home Again

I'm going to be working on posting some scenes and stories of our adventures (and the misadventures) of the great Road Trip 2009 and get them up in a few days. In the meantime, I wanted to share some thoughts about some of the "aha" moments of the trip.

The first isn't really an aha moment - it's something I harp on quite a lot. That is GO AND DO! You don't have to spend a year planning the perfect road trip (The daughter would have some comments on the use of the word perfect to describe this trip), or spend a ton of money. Wherever you live there are fun and unique places to go and visit, and great people to visit them with. So get out there and do them while you have the chance.

The first aha revelation is that spontaneity can be fun. It can also be challenging. Take the example of deciding at the last moment to drive the Pikes Peak Highway. 19 miles, and we had already driven more than 300. How hard can it be? There's a T-shirt available at the store at the top of the Peak that includes the line "You know you're a coward if you're willing to pay your life savings to the ranger to drive you back down to the bottom." We were almost there. I thought that would be the most frightening event of the day!

Next is that all of the planning in the world can't provide for every eventuality. Take the "Million Dollar Highway" from Ouray to Silverton. This had been on our trip plan all along. I had researched it through the local tourism websites. What I had failed to do was research through YouTube and Trip Advisor. Had I done that, I would have seen what a hair-raising drive this was going to be and would probably have found a way around it. Conversely, we would have missed a chance to expand our horizons in a huge way. It was very scary, but we did it! Mostly because once you got started, there was no real way to stop!

Further, there are a lot of wonderful people out there who are dedicated to helping people have fun! Thank goodness! As tourists for a week, instead of the one on the other side, we relied on the friendliness, helpfulness and professionalism from everyone from the gas station attendant, KOA Kampground host, to National Park Rangers to provide us with the tools to enjoy our vacation, and they all came through for us.

Along this same line, is the difference that just one person can make. Everywhere we went, from Garden of the Gods to Mesa Verde, Great Sand Dunes National Park to Pueblo Colorado, we read about men and women, mostly individuals or small groups, who were responsible for preserving these pieces of our history and heritage and making it possible to share them with the world. A private family owned Garden of the Gods before donating it to the city of Colorado Springs for the express purpose of opening it to the public.

Again, it was a small group of women responsible for preserving Mesa Verde
In the 1880s and 1890s, a number of prominent cliff
dwellings in southwest Colorado were partially
excavated, and many artifacts were removed from
the area. The removal of those artifacts angered the
public and inspired the first efforts to protect Mesa
Verde.

At the time several prominent women, including Lucy
Peabody and Virginia McClurg, engaged in a
continuous campaign to inform the American public
and members of Congress about the need to preserve
the cliff dwellings and protect the rich cultural
resources of Mesa Verde, McClurg even enlisted the
aid of the Federation of Women's Clubs and
established the Colorado Cliff Dwellings Association
to further the cause.

Due in large part to their efforts on June 8, 1906,
President Theodore Roosevelt signed the Antiquities
Act. Their work culminated on June 29, 1906 in the
subsequent signing of the bill that created Mesa
Verde National Park.

Great Sand Dunes National Monument is in place because a local P.E.O. group of women saw it's value and wanted it preserved.

The Historic Union Avenue District and River Walk exist because of one women, Mary Farley, who saw the importance of preserving Pueblo's history and creating an inviting place for people to visit.

So never ever think that the efforts of just one person or a small group of people won't make a difference. If you care about something, work toward bringing your vision into reality.

Lastly, I learned that local tourism entities, the one I'm associated with included, need to do a much better job of getting the information out about what's going on in the area. Every place we went, we asked what there was to do in the evening (except for that one day when we were in bed by 8:00 p.m.), and very few times did we get an answer that reflected what was really going on. We had to search for the live music, local entertainment, local festivals, basically whatever we found. I know visitors to my hometown would have to do the same. I think one of the reasons is that organizers of these events, whether it is a local farmer's market, local play production or concert in the park, don't realize that there are tourists staying in the area's hotels who would enjoy the event. Trust me, there are some who would.

So there it is, just a few random thoughts that come from driving more than 2000 miles on one fantastic road trip!

Thanks for stopping by once again. The coffee is always on.

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