I woke up at 5:44, exactly one minute before my alarm went off. After quick showers, and an unfortunate amount of repacking the car, we ate a delicious homemade granola bar (thank you Evergreen staff), an orange, and maybe a Sour Patch Kid or two before heading out (we had to repack the car because I brought five guitars, two snare drums, and a harmonium that all wouldn’t have survived a frozen night in the car).
It was this morning that Darth (our Star-Wars-voiced GPS device) decided to fail us. We headed straight for I-84, and spent about ten minutes looking for the on-ramp! Darth failed us again! He kept telling us to get closer to the interstate before telling us we missed our turn (a turn that was nonexistent, understand) and turned around, frantically looking for the I-84 East sign. Turns out, just like the off-ramp we missed the night before, Idaho has nothing better to do with its extreme amount of spare land than to have the interstate ramps begin more than a mile away from the highway. We finally managed to spot what looked like a side access road that ended up being the main on-ramp. Tight.
Our first stop for the day would be in Ogden, Utah, because they have an In-N-Out there and this was really my last chance to eat a #2 Animal Style for the foreseeable future. My handy iPhone map info told me this In-N-Out was open at 8am! Who would have guessed?! Well, turns out, I’m an idiot, because no one would have guessed that – everyone knows In-N-Out isn’t going to be open at 8am. We pulled into Ogden with a thirst for milkshakes on our lips, just to find out the restaurant wouldn’t be open for another 45 minutes. There was much shame, disappointment, and downright depression to be shared among us. We hopped back in the cars (literally as fast as we could, since it was a chilled 18 degrees outside) and began our trek toward Wyoming.
There exists a beautiful transition in scenery between Utah and Wyoming, where ancient red rock is exposed, and you can see the years of weathering lines on the rock, almost like the lines on the face of a man who has completed his time on earth, each crease showing another age survived. These standing rocks transport you immediately into another frame of mind (see photos posted after this day). The gloriously majestic mountains of Idaho and Utah are in the rearview, and standing red rock is all around. It’s puzzling how so many different landscapes can exist in the same country, let alone in adjacent states.
We stopped for lunch in Rock Springs, Wyoming, and not fifteen miles after did my “check engine” light come on. Not good. We pulled off onto a rest stop (which was the first rest stop I’ve ever seen with an enclosed lobby) to check under the hood. Everything seemed fine, so we located an auto parts store a little ways away in Rawlins that would tell us what the light meant.
I don’t know much about cars, but when they use words like “bad sensor” or “new catalytic converter,” my mind just starts swimming with dollar signs. Sounds like my van might need one of those things, but it’s not life-threatening, so, having stopped at the Drive-Through Liquor store, we rambled on. (Just kidding – we didn’t go to the Drive-Through Liquor, but I had to mention it so I could back myself up with this hilarious picture.)
Hours rolled on as we passed through the rest of Wyoming, including the dreadful stretch between Laramie and Cheyenne. Let me tell you from first-hand experience: black ice is not fun. Especially in my Momda Odyssey. After sweating and tensing my arms for that segment of the road, we finally scuttled into Denver and met my friend Aaron for dinner at Vine Street Pub. The beer was well-crafted (my dad and I enjoyed a smooth, florally IPA), the chicken nachos were without repute, and catching up with an outstanding friend is always memorable. The trip wouldn’t have been the same without seeing him. A splendid meal, all-in-all.
After eating and parting with my friend, we took to the snowy / icy roads for the final jaunt down I-25 to Colorado Springs. We were greeted with warm smiles and warm beds at the house of my friends Alex and Abby.