Colorado Vacation: Part 1 – The Trip West

Remember that you can click on any of the photos to see larger versions of them.

After working all day Thursday, we left home about suppertime. We made it as far as Bryan’s Aunt Julie’s house, in Oklahoma, where we spent the night. On Friday, we drove to Muskogee for breakfast at Braum’s. (Mandy: “Is a chili cheese frank just more direct than a chili cheese hotdog?”) Last week, Bryan spent two dollars on an app for his iPhone called “Roadside America.” It’s software that helps find oddball tourist attractions near where you’re traveling. The first Roadside America stop on this trip: a statue commemorating the first Girl Scout cookie sale. (Bryan: “That was SO worth two dollars.”)

In spite of a lengthy and bitter argument about whether gummy bears are inferior to gummy worms (Bryan: no Mandy: yes) we made it to Wichita in time for lunch. The food was good at Chipotle, but I had to walk next door for good signs. No one would pose next to the “Free Smells” sign.

The next stop suggested by the Roadside America app was the World’s Tallest Mennonite Sculpture. It was supposed to take twenty minutes to get off the interstate, snap a couple of photos, and get back on the road. A missed turn and an ill-timed train caused the stop to take over an hour, but we did get to see this sign, apparently for the First United Church of Unicycles.

And then, finally, the Mennonite Sculpture. It wasn’t very exciting. Sometimes, Roadside America is more fun when it surprises you.

And there are always surprises, when you look for them. Near Wakenney, Kansas we watched a popup storm form and dissipate, along with a full rainbow, almost double, over fields and fields of sunflowers. At a truckstop in Colby, we pulled up next to a truck pulling a flatbed trailer. On the trailer was a pink Nash rambler, full of with cages of crazy-headed birds. There are always surprises.

Hours later, we passed the birds again. The driver of the truck looked like a regular, normal person, just out for a drive. Pulling a pink Nash rambler full of crazy-headed birds. There are always surprises.

There was a bad storm on the western horizon for what seemed like hours, with dark evil clouds and the most amazing lightning any of us had ever seen, lighting up the whole sky with snaky tentacles of electricity. We listened to Gogol Bordello and drove through the dark, toward the storm.

We reached Limon, CO just as it began to rain, and walked into a little warm-colored Mexican restaurant full of old people chatting and the owner’s chubby daughter waiting tables. We ate warm sweet homemade chips and watched the rain.

It’s funny what becomes important to a person as we build ourselves. One thing that’s important to me is that, when I stay in campgrounds, I’m a good neighbor. We arrived at Cherry Creek State Park in Denver, well after bedtime. But we’d known this would happen and we packed well. We unloaded a single plastic box, and we set up tents, pads, and sleeping bags in near-dark and almost-silence. We went to sleep quickly, listening to the Interstate traffic we’d been part of all day.

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