Ever since I started traveling, I’ve held onto a figurative list of places I could see myself living. Most of them are practical; Oregon, New York, a small deserted island off the coast of Hawaii. Granted, for the most part, I’ve never actually been to a great deal of these locations. For some reason though, my internal compass has led me to believe I would undoubtedly love each and every location.
Among the places on my list was Colorado and after missing my opportunity to live there during my year of service, I was very determined to travel there during our road trip. So, after Dallas, Evan and I found ourselves adventuring up the road to stop for a few days in Colorado.
Our first stop was Denver. For anyone who knows us and knows us well, we couldn’t help but choose Denver due to the great microbreweries in the area including our personal favorite, Great Divide. If you haven’t tried Great Divide yet, seriously, go do it now. I have yet to find a beer of theirs that I don’t like and after touring the facility and trying more of their draft beers, I’m fairly convinced they may be one of the greatest breweries in the world. Even their label designs and names are fantastic. They named a beer after Kenny Loggins, I mean what’s not to like?
Okay, beer aside, Evan and I had a great time in Denver. We had spent a fair amount of our trip rummaging through old bookstores and were pleased to find a good one in the area called The Tattered Cover Book Store. After, we wandered around their main street where they had a number of movie cars on the street including the Mystery Machine! They also had out a bunch of games and a miniature golf course with major Denver landmarks, which only led to a heated battle that I inevitably won (Evan’s got nothing on me). After a great day around town, we went to a comedy club and then grabbed drinks before heading back to our hotel.
Although we loved Denver, we couldn’t help but feel like we choose the wrong time to come tour around the city. We stayed at a hotel close to the downtown area that, unbeknownst to us, was hosting guests (a lot of guests) of a gun enthusiast convention. Hobbies aside, some of the other guests were some of the most abrasive and entitled people we have ever come across.
During our stay, we thought we would use the hotel shuttle to get downtown. After signing up for an afternoon one, we secured a spot and waited downstairs early. Among the passengers were eight German guests who were a part of a larger biker gang that was staying at the hotel. When the shuttle finally pulled up, the group of eight subtly became ten, and then again thirteen.
A tiny woman, no taller then your classic twelve-year-old, led the group of German bikers. Her stature was nothing in comparison to her bite, which could scare away a batch of our best and strongest soldiers. I came to see her as the ringleader, ready to strike against anyone who refused to give her what she wanted.
The shuttle driver was a small and timid man who surely would not be the type to stand up to an angry gang of bikers should he need to, and especially not a five-foot-one, fifty-year-old woman. When he first stepped out of the van and saw them, he told the ringleader the eight of them that had signed up could get on the shuttle, but just the eight of them. He might have meant it to sound stern, but the Germans clearly took no note. The ringleader ushered her people onto the van and then quickly pushed an additional five on that piled into the far back, leaving just one available seat.
The driver looked at the rest of us who were waiting with a confused look as he noticed what happened. He went over to try to sort it out and immediately the ringleader began yelling at him in German. Without a moment’s hesitation, he turned around and began what sounded like a well-rehearsed apology to the six of us whose seats were just taken. The other group of four gave up quickly, but I was determined.
I stood there looking inside the shuttle, noting the one seat and hoping room could be made for us. I began negotiating with the driver and as he agreed to let us sit in the same seat, two more Germans came by and began yelling to the ringleader in German. The ringleader promptly got out of her seat and barricaded the shuttle doors as Evan and I were about to enter. Foaming at the mouth and with a bit of a rabid look in her eye, she began screaming “NICHT NICHT NICHT”.
Okay, the foam and rabid look may be an over exaggeration, but she was scary enough to make Evan cracked immediately. This was a woman you did not want to mess with. By the fourth “nicht” I backed away and said the two new Germans could just have the spot. Although I’m usually a big advocate of what is fair and just, there’s just something too terrifying about a short-aggressive woman screaming at you in German.
After our Denver experience, we decided to escape to Southwest Colorado followed by Mesa Verde, Zion, and a spontaneous trip to Vegas. Finally, we ended our trip with wine tasting in Ojai, CA, a night in Los Angeles with Evan’s brother, Ryan, and a quick pit stop in Irvine to see Evan’s new apartment before making it back to Encinitas.
This was about 9,981 miles and exactly five weeks after that first day way back in June when we left for Santa Barbara.
I was considering doing a separate post to summarize my feelings on this trip because how can I possibly summarize this trip in just a few sentences? I guess I’ll give it a try, though.
Every time Evan and I landed in a new city, we found ourselves in awe over how much we had already done. After a week we had made it all the way up the coast. After two weeks we were already through the Midwest. Three weeks after we found ourselves leaving the East Coast. We were amazed by not only how much ground we had covered, but also at all the incredible sites we had been able to see. Both of us could honestly say we never thought we would be in many of the places we ended up seeing. Giving ourselves the opportunity to explore this vast country was probably one of the greatest things either one of us have done for ourselves.
Every now and then I would be a little disappointed that we couldn’t take our time when we wanted to. When my parents did their road trip, they took six months off to complete it. Due to money and time, we were at the whim of some slightly uncontrollable factors that may have kept us from exploring a little further. However, each time I reminded myself that given our restrictions, we were able to make an incredible and unique trip that we both appreciated. Looking at the trip whole, there is nothing I would have changed about the path we created. All in all, the trip was incredible and I’m grateful for the opportunity we both had to see some of the different things the US has to offer.