Tag Archives: colorado

Great Western Road Trip, Day 22

Current Location: Lenexa, Kansas

Today’s Song: Mark Knopfler – Guide My Sword (from The Princess Bride Soundtrack)

A contemplative piece from one of my favorite soundtracks. I’ve been thinking a lot during this trip, and this matches up to my mood.

It was another early start today – up at 5:15 AM. After packing up, rearranging my luggage, cleaning the car, and checking out, I was able to walk to the coffee shop just across the street right as they opened at 6:30 AM.

Today was going to be a very long leg of driving, and not much to see or do along the way. Dring out of Denver was slow going.

The only saving grace was that the air conditioning in the Mustang was in excellent working order, which is good because today was a day when it was absolutely necessary!

I made very few stops, pushing ahead as quickly as I can. After three weeks of glorious scenery and being excited to see more, I’ve reached the point where I’m ready to get on my way home. Kansas wasn’t as boring as expected (there’s a lot more trees than I thought there would be) but it wasn’t particularly visually stimulating either. Fortunately between my audiobook and NPR I was able to make the time pass pretty quickly.

For dinner, I met up with Orthrus and Adjacent at a restaurant nearby. I first met Orthrus many, many years ago over the net. This was the first time that I met him face to face, and got to meet his husband as well. They’re both great, fun guys and the evening’s conversation was wide-ranging and enjoyable.

Tomorrow, the penultimate day of my road trip: a short 4-hour jaunt across Missouri to St. Louis.

Miles Driven Today: 614 miles

Time Driving Today: 8:52

Total Miles Driven: 5,818 miles

Total Time Driving: 116:07

Note that the totals are revised since I think that the Automatic dongle wasn’t reading correctly while I was in Canada, or anywhere that I was outside of cellular service. A definite limitation of the product. These are the numbers directly from the Mustang’s gauges.

Great Western Road Trip, Day 21

Current Location: Denver, Colorado

Today’s Song: Fairport Convention – Meet on the Ledge

Meet on the ledge, we’re gonna meet on the ledge
When my time is up I’m gonna see all my friends
Meet on the ledge, we’re gonna meet on the ledge
If you really mean it, it all comes round again

I like the idea that, in the end, we see all of our friends and loved ones again. It’s a lovely thought.

Today was a day off the road, and a welcome one at that! I was slow to get started, but after getting some breakfast at the coffee shop across the way (it was…meh) I went back to the room and caught up on all of my work emails and tried to gauge what crap-bombs have been dropped in my absence. It appears that I’ll be walking into a bit of a hornet’s next on Monday, but it’ll be manageable. Then it was over to the auto glass place to have them replace the windshield on the rental car (AGAIN). At least it was quick and painless.

Having heard some entertaining things about them on the podcast Kevin and Ursula Eat Cheap (specifically Episode 250, “Giraffe Snuff Film”), I drove up to Boulder to check out Decadent Saint/Wild Cider. The ciders were…OK. Nothing that particularly excited me, though the Lemon Basil Cider was pretty good. The Decadent Saint products were far more interesting, though. They are a wine-based spiced concentrate that is made to be mixed with cocktails or diluted and consumed on its own. Apparently they have had a hard time marketing this since there were two different variations of labels for the four products, all with different names. Currently they are calling them “sangrias” although it’s a bit odd to call something that looks like chocolate milk a sangria.

After tasting a flight of them, I picked up bottles of the Passionfruit, Raspberry, and Dark Chocolate. Quite tasty, and I look forward to experimenting with them!

I had checked with Troy, an old friend from college who is well-familiar with Boulder, on places that I should check out. It boiled down to “Go to Pearl Street, park, and walk.” My first stop was at Pizza Locale, where I was instructed to ask for Alex. It turns out that he and Troy are old friends, and Alex was incredibly sweet. We chatted as he worked the bar, and he was very kind when I mentioned why I was taking this road trip. It was a lovely visit, and I left feeling like I’d made a new friend. (Also, he’s damned cute!)

I walked down Pearl Street (and Pearl Street Mall), stopping at a few places that Troy had suggested and finding some of my own. I had to check out Mountain Sun Pub and Brewery and enjoyed a Belgian tripel there. My last stop in Boulder was Hazel’s, a liquor store similar in size to a large Binny’s in Chicago. I picked up some specifically local items that I know I can’t get in Illinois.

I finished up just in time to get on the road for Evergreen, Colorado, where I had been invited to Tango and Iberian’s place for dinner. Evergreen is a good ways out into the mountains – barely a Denver suburb, but manageable. At first I wondered why they would live so far out but as I drove and admired the scenery I began to understand. They have a lovely home there, and I’m sure it’s very cozy and comfortable in the wintertime. We were joined by Rooth and Whiteyfawks, and we had a delicious dinner while catching up on each other’s lives and geeking about various conventions.  It was 10 PM when we wrapped up, and I was pleasantly surprised just how short the drive was back to my hotel – just a hair over 30 minutes. That’s perfectly accessible – heck, they can get to Denver faster than I can get to Chicago from my place!

Tomorrow: The long, long drive across Kansas.

Miles Driven Today: 103 miles

Time Driving Today: 3:27

Total Miles Driven: 4,201 miles

Total Time Driving: 89:15

(There seems to be a large discrepancy between the mileage and time driven recorded by Automatic and the readings on the Mustang. I need to look into this and may revise this tomorrow.)

Great Western Road Trip, Day 20

Current Location: Lakewood, Colorado

Today’s Song: Carbon Leaf – 1 Wolf, 2 Wolf, 2 Wolf, 4

This one is all about the wide open spaces of the west, and driving miles and miles before seeing another person. A nice, contemplative piece, I think.

I started the day super-early in Salt Lake City, Utah. It took some doing, but I finally found one of the few coffee shops open at 6 AM in downtown SLC. Then it was on the road on Interstate 80 eastbound. Just as I was passing through a construction zone on the outskirts of town, I heard a *THOK* and looked over to find…

Sure enough, the crack started traveling across the windshield. This is my second cracked windshield of the trip, but at least now I know the routine – get it fixed myself, Budget doesn’t have to know about it, get reimbursed through my Chase Sapphire card (by the way, this card is AMAZING – automatic trip and rental car insurance for anything that you charge with the card. This has saved me thousands of dollars.)

That unpleasantness aside, it was a pleasant and uncrowded drive northeast up into Wyoming, where I stopped for a breakfast bagel.

Next stop: Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area. The drive just to get there was pretty in its own right.

I loved the fact that as you drove through the surrounding area the geology was on full display, and Utah helped with this by posting signs along the road explaining different features.

There was a ton of twisty-turns mountain driving, which is so much fun in a Mustang! It helps that there weren’t that many people on the road on a weekday morning so I could pretty much set my own speed, within reason. The views, though. Simply spectacular!

I was originally going to go over the Flaming Gorge Dam and take Browns Park Road overland. It’s an intriguing route, 30+ miles of unpaved road through the middle of nowhere. I had to drop the idea due to 1. Nearby forest fires making it a very real possibility that the road could be closed, and 2. I really didn’t want to possibly damage the dang car any further! Instead, I skipped the dam and went south through Vernal, Utah, where I stopped for a tasty lunch and to make geeky dad jokes.

Then it was a long, long drive to Denver. I didn’t make any stops because it was frequently pouring down rain (the first time in this entire trip, amazingly enough!). The drive down I-70 is always amazing though – beautiful views and very cool road engineering. I finally pulled into my destination, the Hyatt House in Lakewood, Colorado, a suburb of Denver, at 7 PM, 12 hours after I left downtown Salt Lake City. This was the longest I’ve driven in one day on this whole trip and I’m glad I won’t have to do that again!

I really like the Hyatt House brand – they have some great room designs.

For dinner I walked across the street to Brodo, an Italian place. The service was very lacking initially, but once the dinner rush died down it got better. I had a delicious steak salad, and got into a great conversation with the bartender about tonic syrups, gins, and aperitifs. It was a great evening.

Tomorrow I’ll be hanging around Denver to get the windshield fixed, then exploring Boulder, Colorado, and enjoying dinner with friends.

Miles Driven Today: 556 miles

Time Driving Today: 10:13

Total Miles Driven: 4,098 miles

Total Time Driving: 85:48