After receiving confirmation that our boat had been loaded in Manitowoc and was proceeding West via semi-trailer, we decided to head West ourselves. Of course, we were not about to head West without having some fun on the way there! We spaced the 1,857 mile drive out over a week, with scheduled stops in Grand Island, NE, Golden, CO, Richfield, UT, and Las Vegas, NV.
In Grand Island, Nebraska we stopped to visit with family. We had a really great dinner and loved looking at old pictures! Grandpa even shared some stories about hopping a train headed for California in search of work, during the height of the Great Depression. He reminded us the key to any great relationship is communication, and to never go to bed angry.
Grand Island was the furthest I had ever driven West in my entire life. So anything after that was a new discovery. From Nebraska to Colorado, it was pretty flat. I couldn’t help but think about the Oregon Trail, and all those people who traveled West with their oxen pulling their covered wagons. While we broke away from the original trail by heading south into Colorado, in a sense I felt we were making a similar journey.
In Colorado we met up with our friend Dave. He gave us a mini tour of Denver and took us up to Look Out Mountain Park, which happens to be the grave site for Buffalo Bill. I found this interesting since I had seen signs for Buffalo Bill’s homestead during our drive from Nebraska. Unfortunately as we stepped out of the vehicle, the park operators came over the loud speaker and said, “The park is closed. All visitors must leave immediately. We are not kidding.” We proceeded to walk toward the view point anyway, I mean what was a few seconds, right? Mid-step we hear another loud speaker announcement. “To the red vehicle that just entered the parking lot, you must leave now.” A man flew out from the building and rushed over to tell us, that once again they were serious. So, we turned ourselves around and headed to find another lookout point. The next day we headed to Boulder where we meandered around a store called “Into The Wind,” a fun place of fantastical items, including kites.
From Colorado to Utah the drive was absolutely gorgeous! We increased and decreased elevation in the mountains, traveled through tunnels, gorges, and all the usual ski towns. We shared our first sight of snow and noticed how quickly the temperature changed. Entering Utah we observed the mountains starting to taper off in some areas forming plateaus. I couldn’t help but think of how vast everything was. We stopped at a Jimmy Johns for lunch were we observed the following message. We couldn’t agree more!
A very long stretch of road after our stop had “no services.” No services meant there were exits along the road that served no other purpose, than to let you turn around. There was no gas, food or water for many miles. We passed many interesting rock formations and canyons before arriving in Richfield Utah, where we spent the night before continuing onto Vegas.
The approach into Las Vegas via car, really puts things into perspective. When you fly, they land you right in the heart of the city, but when you drive you are forced to appreciate the surrounding areas leading up to your destination. In an essence this make the city seem a little smaller than it really is. As you drive into Las Vegas, from far away you can see the outline of what makes Vegas, Vegas. It’s strip with all of it’s iconography, can be seen from miles away, sprouting up out of the arid vastness that surrounds it.
In Vegas we decided to give ourselves a treat by ordering some delicious Thai food and having it delivered to our hotel. I was so excited when the men that delivered it could barely speak English! That was my indicator for how good the food would be. When we met them in the lobby, we asked if they had been waiting long. They just kept smiling and shaking their heads yes! By the way, the food was delicious!
The next day was Thanksgiving. We connected with family via Skype, then celebrate with a walk down the Las Vegas strip. We headed to the Bellagio for some pumpkin desert, then had drinks and dinner at the Mandarin Oriental. Both were unbelievable. Great views of the strip, great drinks and out of this world food. Bon Appetit!