Up at 7 a.m. and on the road. Just as I was thinking I’d have to wait to get coffee in Grand Junction (or G-J as we used to call it), I spotted the Green Mountain Ice Cream & Espresso store and it was open! I didn’t catch the owner’s name, but he said he and his partner moved there from Salt Lake. They were driving home from a trip to Denver and, on a lark, decided to tool around town. They saw the “For Sale” sign on the coffee shop, bought a 28-acre farm and ta-da! I give it a thumbs-up on coffee, too — my double-shot soy latte was delish.
Stopped at a Starbucks in G-J for another AND to check e-mail. Denied! Seems you have to have an AT&T mobile phone account to get Wi-fi — or pay for a $5 access card…
I was hit by a lot of memories on the drive through the Rocky Mountains. The time I bribed the gondola guy to let us go to the top at Vail after the ride had shut down… teaching my son to drive on an eye-popping, white-knuckled ride to Morrison… ski trips to Breckenridge, Winter Park, Keystone, Vail. The time I almost took a job at the paper in Avon and getting lost there with my mom… going to the hot springs and vapor caves in Glenwood Springs… whitewater rafting (yes, I got so cold my fingernails were BLUE!)… the bar in Evergreen where everybody carves their initials in the wood…
I let those memories wash over me and I was struck by this thought: I must bring them back with me. That’s a part of my life, just like Boise, just like Pittsburg. I don’t necessarily have to physically drive there (but it does seem to help somehow), but I DO have to pointedly cull those special moments. They are a part of who I am. I didn’t come to Boise in 2001 a blank slate, after all… or did I?
Those are the kinds of brain meanderings that happen on the road and I guess that’s why I’m doing this. That plus the promise of Chicken Annie’s at the end of my journey!
Speaking of food: In Denver, I stopped to visit my step-son Noah, and we got lunch at Chubby’s, the original one. Seems the mom, who started the Chubby’s restaurants with her recipes, is getting competition from her kids, who are starting their own — with her recipes! — and there’s a bit of a feud going on. Hmm, maybe I’ll start a franchise of the original Chubby’s in Boise…
If you go, I recommend getting the beef and bean special, it’s only four bucks and as big as your head (that’s with the Chubby’s signature green chile sauce tucked inside — and OMG is it good — homemade beans, too!), but a lot of folks prefer it smothered. And you have to get the smothered French fries, too.
Back on the road headed to Kansas. No more mountains, but what are those funny golf-ball looking things? You can spot them as you leave Aurora from I-70. They’re actually at Buckley Air Force Base and are technically speaking “radomes, ‘giant white golf balls’, which weather-protect the huge satellite-commanding/data-receiving antennas.” Hmmm.
Out in the open space of eastern Colorado, it almost feels like I’m in Kansas already — I can see a rain storm literally dropping from the sky!
A rainstorm out on the plains.
Rainstorm, closer look.
But seriously, once you’re in Kansas, especially western Kansas, you can see plenty of nothing for miles and miles and miles in every direction.
Payton and I stopped at the Days Inn at Colby, Kansas (tip: pet-friendly). Michelle, who is a dead ringer for a young Annie Potts, checked us in and said the best place to eat in town is Montana Mike’s steak house. Sadly, by the time we checked in, it was 9 p.m. and Mike’s — along with every other sit-down restaurant in town — was closed. Tip: Kansas locks up its beer on Sundays, so bring ‘em if you got ‘em — or wait for Monday to roll around. That’s what Payton and I are doing. Good night. Oh, one more thing — along with being somewhat humid, Kansas is also pretty buggy — Payton had fun playing with the cicadas (you might want to invest in some Off!).