Day 8: June 15, 2014
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Three pictures from my Plains Hotel room. The first was actually taken late last night when the festival had pretty much run down. The other two are from this morning before it starts up again.

As promised, here are some pictures of the Plains Hotel interior. The last one is of the hotel's Capitol Grille where I had breakfast. Since I did not have a Denver omelet (or any other meal) in Denver, I decided to have one here.

The museum in the old train station was open today so I was able to see it for the first time. I was more impressed with the building than the museum but maybe I got enough Union-Pacific exposure to last awhile back in Council Bluffs. There is a nice viewing platform though there wasn't much action today.

I made brief stops at a few familiar spots. The first picture is of Tree Rock, the next two from the Ames Monument, and the last two from the Sherman Summit rest area.

Colorado was not, of course, the only place where there was a little conflict associated with the Lincoln Highway. In Wyoming, routes were proposed through both Medicine Bow and Elk Mountain and both, it seems, had reason to think their's was the chosen route as both celebrated with bonfires on the night of the dedication in 1913. The northern route, through Medicine Bow, eventually won out but the LHA continued to recognize the Elk Mountain route as an alternate for several years. The 1916 guide noted that the route offered "many attractions to the tourist, sportsman and photographer" and was about eighteen miles shorter. A downside, however, was "about 32 gates to open on the Elk Mountain route".

I only learned of this interesting situation a couple of months ago and was drawn to it partly because a hotel that first opened in 1905 operates in Elk Mountain today. The exact path of the route is not known and there's a good chance that I-80 has obliterated much of it. I took a stab at getting from Arlington, which is known to have been on the route, to the town of Elk Mountain on what might have been the route. I drove quite a few miles on dirt roads but am now convinced that most of my driving was NOT on the former Elk Mountain route. The last eight or so miles, however, very possibly could be. I've only included pictures from that section I consider a strong possibility for being close to the old route. I'll admit to some trepidation on heading into that last bit of water but, even though I paused to think it over, I didn't think it through. I didn't even consider that the sunroof was open and, while the faithful Forester rolled on through with ease, I got a little wet from the splashing.

At this point I was back on what looked like regularly maintained roadway and was ready to dash on when a gray post caught my eye. I almost dismissed it as weathered stone or concrete but ended up backing up a bit to check it out and I'm very glad I did. It was several yards beyond the fence so I couldn't approach it but I could see that it's shape did not come from weathering. I grabbed binoculars and read it then put a longer lens on the camera and recorded it. "OVERLAND TRAIL/MARKED BY THE/STATE OF WYOMING/1914"

The day's destination, the Elk Mountain Hotel was only about a mile further. The hotel's website contains its history but highlights include opening in 1905, refurbished in 2000, and acquired by its current owner in 2007. The photo of the bridge over the Medicine Bow River was taken from the hotel's driveway. The bridge was built in 1924 and that is Elk Mountain rising behind it. The other pictures are of the hotel's common areas. My room, the Jim Bridger room, is here.

I ate dinner in the hotel's restaurant. When I left my room, I strapped on the belt bag that usually holds my Panasonic camera. My meal arrived and it was gorgeous. I reached for the camera only to find a lens in the bag. I pulled out my phone and snapped a picture. Or so I thought. Camera phones are not my forte and I either did not actually take a picture or I somehow lost it. I wouldn't normally go to this much effort to excuse my failure but that meal needed its picture taken more than just about any I've known. Susan, the owner, is a Cordon Bleau trained chef. The meal was the best beef stroganoff I have ever eaten. Eating at the restaurant does not require staying at the hotel and, if you would rather not drive through miles of ruts and water for dinner, this wonderful spot can be reached from I-80 on a couple miles of nicely paved road.

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