So I've decided to give you all just the highlights of the vacation, by state, of course.
Our first stop was in Ogden, Utah mostly because a)after 18 hours of driving it seemed like a good place to stop and b)Hubs thought that the traffic would be lighter then in the depths of Salt Lake City. Of course the travel Gods saw fit to have the freeway through town ripped up and we got lost finding the hotel.
On our first full day in Ogden we went to Union Station, and then to the Hill Airforce Base Museum. Both were great! We also discovered the Union Station Grill, which had the best french fries we ever tasted and we voted the best place to eat of our whole vacation.
Then it was onto Moab, where the hotel was perfection. I mean, who can argue with a nice shady pool, coffee always brewing, and gooey chocolate chunk cookies nightly? We relaxed the day we arrived, but after that it was adventure full throttle.
The 4x4ing through Canyonlands and Dead Horse State Park left us hot, thirsty, dirty, and yet planning for another trip next year. Hubs was exclaiming, "THIS IS AWESOME!" about every three seconds until Jake and I threatened to tape his mouth shut. Oh oh, I think Hubs has found a new passion. Better hide the jeep dealership numbers. Many times throughout the day I offered to let Jake sit in the front so he'd have a better view of the harrowing road. "No, that's okay, I'm fine here," he'd say. "It's better I just don't know."
Then it was off for a jet boat tour down the Colorado river, which by contrast was relaxing. As we sat back sipping lemonade, we whizzed down the shallow river past sandstone cliffs and herons soared overhead. Our tour guide shared stories of growing up in the area, the geology of the area, and generally made it a great morning. Jake loved the fact that he let him drive the boat, even. The cool breeze from the water and the wind made up for the 103 degree temperatures later on. Our last day saw us trekking out to Arches National Park and accomplishing some short hikes before the sun finally made us quit. So much to do, so little time!
We sadly bid Moab goodbye with it's good restaurants, quaint little shops and the diner ice cream we snacked on, and left for Colorado.
Colorado was a bit of an adventure, in more ways then one. It began when we stopped in a certain fast food place and asked for a cup of hot water, and were met with a curt, "We can't give you that. It's hot and you might burn yourself." Jake's response? "Why do you sell coffee then?" The drive was beautiful-soaring mountains, trains, tunnels, and we ogled swanky ski resorts like Vail as we passed by.
We stopped in Georgetown for lunch, because we had booked a tour on the train for the next day and wanted to check it out. Unfortunately, the train had broken down and wouldn't be running in time for our tour so we collected our refund and checked out the town. It's very cute, a little touristy, and we were disappointed we wouldn't get to ride the train. We continued onto our destination just outside of Denver.
I'm not really sure what it was about our hotel that turned us off. Maybe it was that the one before it had been so friendly and homey, and this one seemed institutional. Maybe it was the fact that I practically had to hand my first born child over just to access the computer. Or that Bubbles Liquor World was next door, and a prison was just a short distance from that.
We hit the Walmart that evening to have my zillions of pictures burned to CD to free up my memory card. As we wandered we discovered that there was a gun section where some young, freakishly excited man fawned over the guns and ammo so much that we left slightly traumatised. That sort of sealed the deal...we were outta there.
The next day, we found new digs in a nicer hotel in Colorado Springs. We visited Cave of the Winds and did a lantern tour, which was really cool. You get a small kerosene lamp to see the cave so don't expect to see much in the way of formations, this is more to experience the cave the way they did in the old days. We drove around Manitou Springs and Old Town Colorado, then it was off to The Black Bear Diner for dinner. (we highly recommend this restaurant)
Our hotel once again proved interesting that evening when some people down the hall began fighting with each other. I'd pass by their room on the way to do laundry and couldn't help but over hear the gems they were screaming at each other about incest and molestation, and the ensuing slapping and banging around. I reported them to the front desk, only to be told that the hotel couldn't do anything. We missed the action later when apparently the fight spilled out into the hallway and the police were called, only to see the two freaks jump out the second story window and escape.
On our last day in Colorado Springs, we decided to take a drive out to Cripple Creek. By now we had become a little wary, not wanting to just plunk down our money at any tourist attraction we saw. Some of the things we had visited (which I have taken care here not to mention) were incredibly disappointing and featured more of a gigantic gift shop full of items made in China then the actual attraction. We were in for a treat though!
Our first tour in Cripple Creek was the Mollie Kathleen Mine~an absolute must see for mine lovers. We were the only people on the tour, and our tour guide took us 1000 feet underground to show us the mine and demonstrate how the equipment worked. In the end we were allowed to choose a piece of gold ore each. It was so great to have a personal tour of a mine!
The second stop we made was at the Cripple Creek train, where we took a little ride out to see some historical sites and old mines. After that it was lunch in a casino, then a drive out in the back country to look around. The area is very beautiful, which is a good thing because we got a little bit lost out there.
That evening as we topped up our gas tank was when I ran into our seriously geographically challenged gas jockey, who thought that Canada was where the kangaroos live and if not, it was surely one of the 50 something states, right? That was after the desk clerks at the hotel asked me if Canadians shaved, drove cars, and declared that they wanted to move to our country. I grinned and told them fine, you'd really love Northern Saskatchewan. Sorry, I just couldn't help myself! I hope they really, really like SNOW. (hee hee hee!)
Next stop? South Dakota and Montana... where we search for buffalo, explore two more caves, dodge a tornado, visit a really interesting restaurant, find a mouth watering ice cream place that sings to us, am moved by a very patriotic ceremony, and flee a hotel in the middle of the night.