Alright, so the original plan was to leave at 6am on Wednesday the 7th, but as I mentioned in my last post, we didn’t get on the road until about 2pm. So that threw us off a bit, but not the end of the world.
On the first day of driving, we made it through West Virginia, Ohio, and into Indiana. The plan was to stop at a Starbucks or something along the way and use the wifi to book a hotel via Priceline. A coworker suggested this, and I had never used the “name your own price” feature, but it sounded practical for what we were doing, so I figured I’d give it a shot.
We wanted to get to Terra Haute, IN, but around 11:30am we realized that was a bit far-fetched, so we decided to settle for Richmond, IN. I pulled over at a truckstop around 12:30am to book a hotel. Well, it turns out that you can’t book a room for the 7th when it’s the 8th at 12:30am… So we ended up walking into a Super 8 and getting a room there.
I definitely wasn’t risking leaving my bike and roof cargo attached to my car overnight in this place. Don’t get me wrong, the Super 8 in Richmond, IN is extremely classy, minus the spiders and ashtray-scented room. Anyway, removing that roof cargo bag at each stop is a huge pain, but it had to be done.
We hit the road around 7:30am on the 2nd day. Illinois and Missouri must be the 2 most boring boring states in the US to drive through, although St Louis was kinda cool.
This time around, I booked our hotel room early. I used Priceline to snag a Hyatt in Topeka, Kansas for about $85. Every Hyatt I’ve stayed in has been pretty nice, and this was no exception. The hotel was somewhat isolated from the road, so I decided to leave the roof cargo on the car overnight. In retrospect (thinking clearly and well-rested) I realize this was probably an awful idea, but our room was on the 5th floor and getting the bag through a hotel room door is a huge pain. Anyway, the bag was fine, but I don’t plan on doing that again.
People told me that Kansas was no better than IL and MO, but I disagree. I really enjoyed the rolling hills, the colors, and the over-the-top Christian warning signs (REPENT NOW OR GET RAPED BY METEORS). For the first 150 miles or so, Kansas was pretty cool to drive through… After that, it started to get a little old. I also liked the 75 mph speed limit throughout most of the state.
We kept seeing signs for the world’s largest prairie dog, and as we got closer, the signs also revealed that this attraction housed baby rattlesnakes, 6-legged cattle, and a bunch of other oddities, so we decided to check it out. The signs begin 50 miles or so before the exit for the attraction, so they really wear you down… So we went to check it out. It was exactly as I imagined it to be. The place was run by a friendly oddball with had no shortage of bad jokes. He had all kinds of animals caged, from raccoons and skunks to foxes and bobcats. Essentially it was a glorified roadside zoo with some deformed animals thrown in for good measure.
After being mildly distracted for about 45 min, we got back onto 70 West – this is the road we spent about 90% of our trip on thus far.
When we finally crossed over into Colorado, I was expecting a change of scenery, but that didn’t really happen. We decided to stop in Denver for lunch. I never realized how many crunchy hippies called this place home, but I guess it makes sense. My sister was wearing a Phillies hoodie, and being in Rockies territory this elicited some unfriendly looks. We grabbed lunch at a sports bar in the city, booked a hotel in Grand Junction, and hit the road. Originally I planned on booking a hotel in Moab, Utah, so that we could check out Arches National Park, but the prices of all hotels there are significantly higher than nearby areas… Hence Grand Junction.
When we left Denver, we finally got that change of scenery. After about 15 minutes on 70 West, the Rocky Mountains started to appear in the distance. Definitely the coolest part of the drive so far. We drove through the Rockies for about an hour before it started to get dark. It was a shame that that we didn’t make it there until later in the day, because I have a feeling we missed out on some amazing scenery.
Anyway, I had been driving all day, and once I came close to that 700 mile mark, I handed the wheel over to my sister and passed out. I woke up about an hour later in Grand Junction. It was around 10:30pm, so the restaurants we wanted to check out had stopped serving food. We checked into the Ramada in Grand Junction and then settled for Mexican (which my body is apparently still working through).
Today we’re heading to Moab, UT to check out Arches Nat’l Park, and then driving to Vegas… And hopefully meeting up with some friends there. This was a gametime decision – I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to stop in Vegas or not, but it seems like a good way to cap off the trip with a bang. Staying at the Las Vegas Marriott Residence Inn South. I’m not much of a gambler, so… Any suggestions?