To Cove Fort and Back
Interstate 70 is a vital artery in the United States, it spans 2,153 miles from start to finish. I drive this road frequently, being that is starts in Baltimore. At the beginning of I-70, there is a sign with control cities (control cities are the cities on signs with your distance from them), this is that sign.
This sign always intrigued me, every single time I drove by it, I wondered "what is Cove Fort?". My wife and I looked it up, it is just a fort in Utah, not extremely special, but it is there. Why would they decide to put it on a road sign 2200 miles away? So we aimed to find out.
I love road tripping, it is one of the most American things, we have an amazing road system in this country, and I aim to use it. However, with our international travels taking so much of our time, we had a problem trying to figure out when to take time off to find out what Cove Fort was. Well, it just so happens that I was in between jobs, having just quit mine. I did not start my new job for a little over a week, having given myself some time between the two, so we set out to find out what Cove Fort was.
We rented a car, and set out. I expected to get on the road around 1pm, but we actually got on the road about 5pm, which was later than I had hoped. On our first day of driving, I was expecting to get to St. Louis, or at least close, where we could sleep in the car that night, then head on at first light, or whenever we woke up; we made it to just outside of Indianapolis, about 600 miles. We slept in the car with the dogs, then set out in the morning, hoping to make it all the way to Denver.
We passed through St. Louis as well as Kansas City, the latter of which was packed with trains, which I love. Only stopping to let the dogs out and to get gas, we made very good time. At one exit somewhere in Kansas, Wilson to be exact, we had to stop for gas and let the pooches out to eat, we noticed signs for "The World's Largest Czech Egg" and when you're on a road trip, even when you have a destination, you stop for these types of things.
To this day I am still not sure what it is, but I do know that we saw it. The ladies were out there painting it as well. To be completely honest, Small Town America is great for things like this, the town's pride in this egg was obvious, and now I know Wilson, Kansas exists. I also fired off a few more shots in town, then we headed on our way.
We were back on the road with a good amount of daylight in front of us. Kansas is extremely flat, which can actually be very nice to drive through. As the sun started to set, we crossed the border into Colorado.
Colorado is a beautiful state that changes vastly as you cross it. We stopped at the first town we came to in Colorado just to piddle about, but then got back on the road. It took us about 6 hours from Wilson and the Czech Egg to get into Denver.
In Denver we booked a room at La Quinta, which is who we always use in the US because of their dog policy, they have made customers for life while we have are here. We dropped off all our stuff and got back in the car to head over to a friend's apartment to see people I have not seen since graduation. We spent the evening hanging out being friends. It just so happened that a friend was also in town for a few days on his first vacation in years.
After leaving, we headed back to our hotel, only to see my wife get extremely sick. We had no idea what was going on, we figured it was a food thing, but she had trouble sleeping and was itchy. She was able to sleep and in the morning we started on the road again.
Leaving Denver a little later than we had hoped, we met-up with the entire population of Denver on the road headed west, maybe they were headed to Cove Fort, too. It was July 4th weekend and everyone was going to recreate, causing us to sit on the freeway for about 4 extra hours. This was a huge delay and I was not a happy camper about it.
We eventually made it into Utah, which held our final destination. The landscape in Utah is so beautiful, it was a pleasure to drive through.
It took us quite a few hours to traverse Utah, which drew no complaints from me and my wife was starting to feel a little bit better, which was good. We stopped at brand new gas station in the middle of the desert, that was pretty sweet. I mean, completely brand new. What a sight to behold.
The sun started to set now, which meant we would not get to Cove Fort in the daytime or when they were open, a bit frustrating, but that Denver backup really killed us. We did not really want to spend the night at Cove Fort, so we settled for seeing what we could at night.
Another hour on the road and we were there, the glorious fort at the end of the road. We took the exit and a mile on, there it was.
We shot some night photos, let the dogs out and then headed on our way. I am still not entirely sure what Cove Fort is, but if you're in the area you should stop by. The area is quite nice, and when they are open, it looks like it could be a good half day or full day for the family. There is RV parking around and a place to stay.
We got on the road and headed west for half a mile, where I-70 dead-ends at I-15, hundreds of miles from any major city or place. We had made it to the end. It was one of those interesting and climactic things that really is not all that exciting. I had thought about driving the whole length for quite some time, and we finally did it. I was very happy. We turned around after driving south on I-15 (we took the south exit as it crossed I-15, making it the full length of I-70) to start heading back.
We decided that we were not going to just jet back, so we had plans to see a few national parks we had not seen yet. From Cove Fort we headed east towards Capital Reef. It took us about 2 hours or so to get there and we passed through pretty quickly. We did not get to see much, it was the middle of the night. We will have to go back one day and see it in person during the day.
After passing through Capital Reef, we got back to I-70 and slept on an exit ramp like a trucker (queue Convoy). We slept for about 5 hours and then got back on the road, headed to Arches, which took us a few more hours, but being as it was morning, we had plenty of time to drive through the park when we got there, which we did. We could not get out and hike around because we had the dogs and they are not allowed on trails. Sad, but understandable, because people are terrible and ruined it for everyone by allowing their dogs off leash and to poop everywhere without cleaning it up. We drove as much of the park as we could and headed south.
After leaving Arches, which was beautiful and you should visit, we were going to go to Canyon Lands, but the wife was not feeling wonderful and we wanted to get home, so we passed. Our next destination was Four Corners, which is the meeting point of the four states in the Area, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado. I have been, my wife had not. When we got all the way down there, it cost $30 dollars a person, so again, we skipped. While this is cool, the price was insane for what it is, and they recently discovered using modern mapping and GPS it is not in the proper location. If you have not been, consider it, but do not base a whole route on it.
We also had to take some back roads which resulted in the following photos.
From there, it was back to Colorado and on to Mesa Verde, which I had been to but she had not. After starting into the park, the winding roads go to be too much for my sick passenger so we headed back out. We had purchased the National Parks pass so we were not out any money on this park.
Our next stop was beautiful Durango. This city is so beautiful, so much greenery, hiking paths, and lots of outdoor activities. This is also the start of the Durango and Silverton railroad, which is a scenic railroad that takes one from the former to the latter and back. We stopped for a few chooch photos then headed onto what Rand McNally calls the most scenic drive in the state; they were not wrong.
After winding in the mountains, we arrived in Silverton. Little did we realize before getting there, it was July 4th and the celebration for the surrounding area is held in Silverton. We drove through town and back out after stopping at the railroad depot, another dog walk, and some looking around and we were on our way.
Silverton was simply beautiful, but we had a place to be and quite a few hours of driving ahead of us. We set out before all the festivities, while there was still light. The mountain drive was wonderful, such great scenery. We ended up back in Denver for the night, where we had to settle for a Motel 6 or Super 8, but we did get tasty delicious pizza from dominos delivered right to our hotel room.
We decided to venture out of Denver the next morning headed north to North Platte, Nebraska so that we could see the largest rail yard in the world. It is called Bailey yard, and it is busy busy busy. I can tell you that Walter Mermis is a name I read inside a gas station at North Platte. Incorrigible.
The town itself was quaint, great for some photos.
We headed east on a backroad from North Platte, which had quadruple or triple track main lines, we saw tons of trains while on the back road. It was wonderful.
We got back on I-80 and started seeing signs for a Pony Express Station, so we figured why not. We hopped off the interstate and had a look. Pretty rustic looking building, pretty neat to see. Back on the road.
The Pony Express was the last stop on our trip before we headed home. We stopped outside of Des Moines to get some snoozing in, then cut through to Morgantown, West Virginia. I got food at Sheetz, then we headed all the way home.
Total miles driven was 5050 in 5 days times. It was a great trip, I really enjoyed finally doing this trip to go to Cove Fort. The one major disappointment was that when I was at the opposite end of I-70, there was not a road sign for Baltimore; step your game up Utah!