On Saturday the 31st we loaded the last of our stuff into the POD, and drove to Boulder for a farewell Whole Foods dinner with my dear Elana. Oh. How. I. Cried. We drove into the mountains, arriving at out hotel in Frisco just in time for bed.
As we were getting ready to leave the hotel Sunday morning we saw two guys in lederhosen in the lobby. They said there was an Oktoberfest going on just down the street. Of course we had to go check it out. There was a big tent set up at the Frsico Nordic Center. We were all looking forward to sausage and sauerkraut, but the food vendors had no idea if their food was gluten-free or not—kind of surprising for Colorado.
The festivities were right next to a hiking path with a view of Dillon Resevoir, so we gathered some of our road trip supplies (like our own sausage), walked into the trees, and sat beside the path.
|We caught a few songs from the oompah band before hitting the road again.|
|Ginger fell asleep with some tunes. The MP3 player is a SweetPea.|
Grand Junction was the next stop on our trip. On The Spunky Facebook page we got a good suggestion for a gluten-free restaurant in town: Il Bistro Italiano. We found a parking spot right next to the front door, walked out... and saw that it was closed for Labor Day Weekend. Awww. We ended up getting dinner at a brewery across the street. The food choices were limited, but the outdoor patio was brilliant. Grand Junction has a really nice main street with historic buildings and cute shops (which were mostly closed). Ginger was especially excited to see a shoe store: "Daddy, shoes!" Ginger loves shoes, and hadn't seen so many in one place before.
|Andy had fun taking photos of 50+ year-old signs. As a graphic designer he loves that stuff.|
|Zoe playing in the splash pad on Main Street, Grand Junction, CO.|
After dinner we walked to across the street to play at the splash pad, before driving to a camp site right outside of Colorado National Monument. We were tenting that evening, but it wasn't wild or remote at all. The campsite had running water, electricity, bathrooms, and a laundromat. We set up our tent next to a couple from Denver named Maurice and Vera. They have been camping together for decades. Andy talked a lot with Maurice, who is writing a book about his parents escape from Germany in the 1940s. Maurice was born in Antwerp, Belgium which is where Andy's grandpa served after it was liberated by the Allies (you can read about this in his book).
Amazingly I slept well in the tent that night! (We have big inflatable mattresses for camping, but usually I just can't stay asleep on them.) We all at granola for breakfast, broke down the tent, said goodbye to Maurice and Vera, and headed to Colorado National Monument. I don't know if it was the tree we slept under, but poor Andy had terrible allergies that just wouldn't clear up. While we enjoyed the beautiful natural views, he said his eyes were so watery that it was "like trying to look through water."
|The canyon at Colorado National Monument.|
|At Colorado National Monument.|
The canyon at Colorado National Monument is impressive. I haven't seen The Grand Canyon yet, so I'm glad to have seen this one. The visitors' center had a display of local animals. Later on our short walk the girls were excited to see both kinds of lizards found in the park.
|Lizard at Colorado National Monument.|
After a long day of driving we reached Richfield, Utah. The little town didn't have much for gluten-free dining, so we ate more of our road trip supplies. Maybe staying in an air conditioned building for 12 hours fixed him up, because Andy's allergies were gone by the next morning.
|Ginger and Ashley riding the luggage cart in Richfield, UT.|
Before hitting the road Tuesday morning we stopped at a grocery store for dry ice. This stuff is great for keeping your cooler cool. It evaporates into nothing (instead of leaving a puddle like normal ice does). Half-way between Richfield and Las Vegas is the town of St. George. We stopped there to give the kids a chance to stretch their legs. The coffee shop, Twentyfive Main was so cute. They had almond milk, but I brought my own coconut milk.
|Town Square Park in St. George, UT.|
|Splash pad at Town Square Park in St. George, UT.|
On the way out of town Ginger spotted a splash pad. She asked to stop, so we did. It was one of the coolest splash pads I've seen. Next to the fountain they built an artificial creek bed, with about 3 inches of running water, boulders for climbing, and waterfalls along the back.
|View from the road in Utah.|
|Zoe climbing a dead tree in the Utah desert.|
|The highway through the NW corner of Arizona.|
Tuesday evening we reached Las Vegas, and the home of some friends.
On such a long trip with kids, we thought it would be a good idea to take a day off from driving. We've been taking it pretty easy today (which has given me a chance to write this post). Andy met with one of the WWII veterans with whom he has been talking the past few years. 88-year-old Gaetano Benza served in Andy's grandpa's battalion, and in 1952 he sang on stage with Frank Sinatra!
Tomorrow we drive the last leg of the trip. We'll be living in an empty apartment until our POD arrives on the 10th! But I took some advice from my Longmont friend, Marlene, and brought my Blendtec, 12" skillet, a small pot, a chef's knife, a whisk and a spatula so that we can get some groceries and begin cooking and eating immediately, even if we do so sitting on the floor :)