Road Trip, Week 1

Current mood:  happy

We are nearing the mid point of our grand road trip to Denver.  This is my first web access, so I thought I’d take a moment to let everyone know we have made it to Colorado.  We were not blown off the planet by the extreme winds on the Oklahoma plains.  It has been a blast!  Here’s the low down (pictures to come).

Day one: Saturday.  My portrait session cancelled, so we had time to repack the car 4 times (apparently our eyes were bigger than our trunk space).  We took it easy and spent the night in Cookeville after visiting Rock Island.

Day two: Sunday.  We had a leisurely breakfast with my dad.  Then we hit the highway to make up some time to Little Rock.  We stopped to eat at Nick’s just east of Little Rock for some awesome barbecue and cat fish.  We spent a nice evening visiting with Beth and her energetic dog Max.

Day three: Monday.  We took our time through Arkansas.  Pinnacle Peak was a must stop and we spent the night on Magazine Mountain (in the nicest camp ground I’ve ever seen).  It was beautiful.  We stopped at a tiny little restaurant that sold Burgers, Chicken, Mexican, Pizza, and Pasta.  It was the only restaurant that wasn’t a Sonic or in a convenience store.  My burger was pretty good.  Arkansas is beautiful, by the way.

Day four: Tuesday.  We woke up to a misty morning and by the time we were all packed up, the fog had rolled in.  It was really cool.  We trucked it through Oklahoma and got a bit annoyed with Greta (the GPS) for taking us on the interstate (what part of “avoid highways” includes anything that starts I-?)  We had an awesome lunch at the 4-star diner (“the place to eat”) and it was delicious!  I had fried chicken with mashed potatoes, spinach, and corn nuggets.  Nate had country fried steak with mac and cheese, cucumber salad, and corn nuggets.  It was incredible.  We stopped for the night in Enid so that we could do all of the scenic drives as we headed toward the pan handle.  Dinner was at a cute little wine and tapas/Italian restaurant.  We had Fettucini Alfredo with chicken.  It was a bit bland, but not bad.  We took a detour on the way to Enid to visit a state park (that was pretty much a recreation area rather than a natural area).  There we picked up a map and a guide to Oklahoma state parks.  This came in handy on Wednesday.

oops!  I have to stop there.  We’re going to look at our pictures.  I’ll finish the update later.


Day 5: Wednesday.  We woke up bright and early and programmed Greta with waypoints that would allow us to see all of the fantastic Oklahoma sites listed on our state park guide.  We saw Gloss Mountain which was a bunch of red mesas and pretty cool.  The rest of the areas were pretty much just flat and very similar to the other flat areas of Oklahoma that we had seen.  I guess April isn’t the time of year to see the midwest at its best.  We stopped for lunch at Wynock (not 100% on the spelling) which was a tiny little town that was nearly deserted at 11:15 on a Wednesday morning.  Unfortunately, the Gooseberry Patch Diner was the only eatery with an “open” sign and the little old lady who ran it said the food wouldn’t be ready for another 30 minutes.  It smelled amazing in there, but we moved on.  We drove through a deserted little town, accidentally hit a suicidal road runner (it ran under our tires at the last minute.  We felt terrible.  It was so cute, and then it was a feather explosion).  Greta was getting her revenge for all of the fussing about interstate driving and insisted we take every dirt road she could work into the route.  Finally we came to Alva (which was one of the few towns listed in 12 pt. font on the map.  Most everything else was 8 pt which meant “there is nothing to see here, move along.”)  We stopped for lunch at the Bowl and Cafe which was packed.  Our goal is to eat only at local restaurants.  Sadly, they did not live up to their popularity.  My fish sandwich was a square of frozen fish patty.  Nate’s burger was similarly homemade.  At least it was cheap.  We got back on the road and realized we should have gotten gas.  We booked it to the next nearest 12 pt. city, but were worried we wouldn’t make it.  They were having record winds and it cut our gas milage down 10mpg.  I swear they were 100 mph winds.  Nathan had to fight it the whole way, except when we passed a large dirt or gravel pile.  Then the car would veer sharply right.  Anyway, after a long day of flat, windy, desolate driving, we arrived at Black Mesa state park.  It was also windy and desolate.  The winds were so strong we didn’t have a fire and instead enjoyed a wonderful Cajun turkey sandwich.  The park was pretty cool, though.  It was so quiet and full of wild life.  We saw deer, turkey, and a ton of little black birds.

Day 6: Thursday.  We woke up to the gobbling of turkeys and frost on the tent.  The wind had died down, but it was freezing cold.  I never managed to fully warm up my sleeping bag in the night, so getting out of it wasn’t too shocking.  We decided to forgo showers, though.  The bathrooms were not the 4-star affairs at Magazine Mountain.  The showers were like the sinks; 1 button you had to hold to get water.  We assumed this 1 button would provide cold water, and if it was similar in temperature to the sinks, we wanted none of that frostbite.  We loaded up the car and hit the road.  Greta was still feeling sassy and we crossed into Colorado 27 miles of dirt road.  We appreciated Nathan’s new tires and his Gran Tourismo practice.  It was more flat fields in South-Eastern Colorado.  We stopped for lunch at the Good Sheperd Inn and Diner.  The sign said “Shep’s Home Cookin'” which appeared to be a good sign.  Apparently “home cookin'” meant frozen or prepackaged.  I had Jonah’s fish sandwich which was identical to my bowling alley sandwich only twice as expensive.  My chips came in a Ruffles bag and my lemonade was out of a Minute Maid bottle.  Nate got the barbecue lunch special.  It was 2 slices of mystery meat with barbecue sauce poured over it.  His baked beans were straight from the can.  The “American Fries” appeared to have come from an actual potato, though.  The sweet little old lady was very nice, and it appeared that she had her 90 year old mother working the grill.  Everything was Bible themed too with lamb planters in the windows and Bible scenes on the walls.  Once we got back on the road, we saw some wind farms, and as we neared Denver, we saw big patches of white stuff all around.  Turns out it had snowed 2 days before!  We stopped for the day just a bit south of Denver.  We checked into the Super 8, took showers and a nap.  Dinner was at the Hickory House (best ribs in Colorado) which was really good.  I had a petite filet which was the best restaurant steak I’ve had in a long time.  The sky was really cool as we headed back to the hotel, so we broke out the cameras for a few shots.  Then it was time for bed.

Day 7: Friday.  We drove up to the Rocky Mnt. park, but on surface streets through Denver at rush hour.  It took 3 hours.  We had lunch at Locals, which was ok.  We met a guy from Knoxville at one of the shops.  He suggested a few things to see.  We also stopped at the camera store for a polarizer and saw the people who were sitting across from us at Locals so apparently it is where the locals eat.  We decided not to drive into the park b/c a lot of the roads were closed.  Instead, we checked out the areas the Knoxville guy suggested.  It was a beautiful drive.  Then we headed to Denver to meet April and Andrew.  After unloading the car and relaxing at their place, we headed to an awesome barbecue place called Sam Taylors.  Mr. Taylor was there to make sure everything was good and it was.  We were so happy to get some real food.

Day 8: Saturday.  We hung out at April and Andrew’s most of the day.  They have a super cool koi pond/garden behind their building.  We had lunch at Chipotle’s which was awesome.  Then we stopped by the coolest bookstore called Tattered Cover.  Nate and I spent some money there!  It was awesome.  Everywhere I looked, I saw books I wanted to read.  We went to a Rockies/Braves game that evening and then to Wynkoop’s brew pub for dinner.  It was a very relaxed and awesome day.

Day 9: Sunday.  We got up early and had another leisurely morning.  We headed to the Rocky Mnt. Park and stopped at Molly B.’s for lunch (the Knoxville guy from Friday suggested it).  April and I shared a Chicken Avacado Quesadilla and Veggie Lasagna.  Everyone got a piece of pie for dessert.  I had strawberry rubarb, Nate had key lime, April had pecan, and Andrew had banana cream.  They were all fantastic.  I think we all left a little over stuffed but satisfied.  We drove around the park and walked on the snow around Bear Lake.  It was really warm, but the snow put out enough cool to make it comfortable.  The day was incredibly beautiful with blue skies and puffy white clouds.  April and I took a short nap while Nate and Andrew wandered around some.  On the way home, we stopped for Thai food which was also delicious.  I think it may have been the best Pad See U I’ve ever had.  We did a load of laundry (b/c we could only fit 1 week of clothes in the car) and now I’m sitting here.  I’ll be burning some stuff to disk and then it’s time for bed so we can head out in the morning.  I think we’ve decided to head straight for Kansas City on the interstate so we can visit with Amy and Stacey and then have some extra time in the less flat land of Missouri.  We’ll be stopping for a day in St. Louis so I can show Nathan where I went to school.  Aaron checked on the cats and they have plenty of food and water.  I miss my babies, but we’re having a grand time.  Vacation is great!



12:17 AM

~ by rebeccaclaire on April 30, 2007.

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