Denver, denver

So, I haven't posted anything since we arrived in Denver and we've covered a serious amount of ground since then. As of today, we are in Austin, TX, baby!!!

Denver was a great city. We ended up meeting some very friendly locals who pointed us in the right direction. The first night our concierge, Brian, at the Westin told us to go to the Falling Rock Tap House for a dog friendly place to go. They were great. I was able to bring Gramps and we hung out on the patio. Our server? Awesome. Their beer list? Ridiculous. Food? Perfect greasiness for a meal after the road.

And just as an aside, again, the Westin in Denver was a really nice place. It has all of the usual Westin fun, but they have a great group of people working there. I wouldn't normally promote a big corporate place, but the staff were all so friendly...I think Gramps became the hotel mascot for our stay.

I ended up walking around the city on Saturday instead of being lazy pool girl, as planned. It was overcast most of the afternoon, which made for nice walking weather. My favorite area of town was Lodo. There's a fantastic bookstore there called the Tattered Cover, that I'm willing to bet was the inspiration behind Barnes and Noble: great selection, great staff, great coffee, great decor.

On Saturday night we went out to the Wazee Supper Club for dinner (great pizza) and then went back to the Falling Rock Tap House to sample more beers to help send Justin back off to Wilmington early on Sunday morning (sad...very sad).

Dana and I also left Denver on the 16th, but we did so by car and headed to Santa Fe, NM.


We made it to Denver!

After a too brief stop in Grand Junction, CO last night, we made our way to Denver today, right through the heart of the Rockies, via Interstate 70. Once again, I've been tickled that everything went as planned. Once again, I've been blown away by the scenery.

The landscape transitions from buttes and mesas to mountains about 45 minutes east of Grand Junction. After that, you pretty much make your way up and up and up the Rockies until you're about 45 mins or so outside of Denver; then you go down---fast.

The Rockies are pretty ridiculous: even the rest stops are beautiful.

There were a few hairy moments, I'm not going to lie. I learned to drive in Philly and subsequently spent 11 years driving in flatter than flat, Wilmington, NC, so driving up some of those mountains was interesting with my stickshift. I kept putting the car into third gear, thinking I was going to blow up the engine! There's a particularly steep incline immediately before you go through the Eisenhower/Johnson Tunnel...I would just like to take a moment to say sorry to that gentleman driving the Jeep that I cut off. Oops!

More on the Denver area late tomorrow...we are all going to take a well deserved break from driving and stay in one place for a day! My goal is to sleep in, be lazy at the pool, and roam the city a bit.


Thank you Utah!!!

I found myself saying thank you (to myself? to god? to buddha? whomever...) quite a bit as I drove tonight. This trip has been at the back of my mind for a long time. It's pretty fantastic to be out here in the middle of it with everything working out pretty well.

We left Salt Lake City yesterday with the intention of stopping quickly in Park City, UT to shop and then drive down the road to Arches National Park and then end the day in Grand Junction, CO. Well, we ended up loving Park City so much that we decided to stay there for the night. We moved a whole 30 miles yesterday!

The Winter Olympics were held in the area and Sundance is there every January, but Park City in the summer doesn't act like the super trendy place I imagined before we got there. It was very quiet and lush and the locals were so incredibly nice (except for the humorless teenage lift operator we met).

We were able to take a lift from Main St. to the top of one of the mountains and took in a view of the entire area. What struck me the most was the utter quiet. Maybe it's just because I'm coming from a particularly noisy place, but I was made deliriously happy by that quiet. After that, we ate a fantastic late lunch/early dinner at a place called Butcher's Chop House and Bar and checked in to the one pet friendly hotel in the area (Holiday Inn Express, fyi).

Today, we slept late and checked out exactly at noon to head to Arches. This was the one part of the trip that I was dreading because of the heat. Whenever I think about driving through the desert, I always have these mental images of an overheated car pulled over on the side of the road. Apparently, we picked the one day that the heat was not going to be an issue in August. Who knew? It was slightly overcast and breezy, which cut down on the extreme heat. Because you can see everything for miles and miles, we were able to watch rain and lightning storms without being caught in them.

Arches National Park is a destination that everyone should see at least once in their lives. We did the super whirlwind tour, but I feel pretty resolute that I will return one day prepared to hike and bike to my heart's content. Good tip to know: dogs are not allowed in to the park, just to the parking lots of the various sites within the park. There are kennels in Moab somewhere, but we were so time constrained, that it wouldn't have made a difference.

In all seriousness, though, Utah was a terrifically impressive state. Go. As soon as you can. You won't regret it.


An aside...

A road trip.
A road trip with 3 people and a dog.
A road trip with three opinionated people and an amped up dog in a smallish car that's packed to the hilt.
A road trip with one of my best friends, her hilarious, amiable boyfriend and my sweet pup who is completely devoted to me.

It's been 4 days on the road and we have all, already had our moments (dog included). But really, I can't think of a group I'd rather be on the road with. We are all a different combination of laid back, compassionate, passionate, particular, curious, funny and cynical. We can all be real bitchy too, I'm not going to lie.

It's going to lead to some blow-ups, for sure, but it's also going to lead to discoveries that no one expected. I'm the research girl---I like to analyze, take it slow, figure it out beforehand and then see what happens (if something comes up to change plans, I'm good with that, but I definitely like to dip my toe in before I just jump in the water). Dana, I think, may be the exact opposite. She came out saying that she was just along for the ride, but when she sees something she wants to do, or if we find an aside along the way that looks cool, she wants to do it. I don't know Justin well enough to say for sure, but I think he may be somewhere in between---he completes the circle, if you will.

The best laid plans...

Plans, plans, plans...

Our intention was to drive from Tahoe to Wendover, UT so that we could get up and check out the weirdness of the Bonneville Salt Flats. At a truly unique truckstop/restaurant/motel/casino in Puckerbrush, NV (Puckerbrush??!!!), I picked up the phone to call the Motel 6 in Wendover and got a nasty surprise...they were completely booked. Apparently, it's something called Speed Week? Yea, it turned out that every motel between Winnemucca, NV and Wendover, UT was booked solid. And I had already been driving all day. Gulp.

Thank goodness for Justin...now, granted he wasn't doing the driving, but he just said, "Well, let's just drive through the night!!" Ugh. And so we did. Now that I've looked at a map of our route, I can't believe I did it. By the time we got here at 5:30 a.m., I was so exhausted that I could barely see.


The landscape from just beyond Reno, NV to here has been otherworldly. I prefer the desert up here to the desert of Arizona. I don't know if this makes sense, but it seems newer here. There are wide expanses of flat, russet colored nothingness and then a mountain range appears out of nowhere.

The Great Salt Lake is amazing to say the least. I still have to process the views before I can say much about it. The size is awe-inspiring and I find it difficult to comprehend that it is basically a leftover. Millions of years ago, the area of what is now eastern Utah, was submerged under what people call Lake Bonneville.

Salt Lake City itself is fantastic. Apparently, its a very liberal enclave of the state of Utah. There are tattoo shops all over town and lots of live music to be seen. A guy I went to high school with, Ian Brandt, owns two restaurants in town that are completely vegetarian and organic. We went to his Sage's Cafe and were pretty damn impressed. If you're ever here, go. Justin's a pretty die hard meat eater and he loved the vegetarian tacos (we all got them and man, that's some good stuff).

I believe that the streets here are organized around the Temple, so the streets immediately surrounding that Temple in all four directions are numbered 200, 300, 400, etc. I searched for a Walgreen's on E 400 South for about an hour yesterday. Finally, in my rage and frustration I stopped to ask a local and they explained the system as best as they could...I get it now, but damn!

So, everyone is going to have to forgive me if the writing from here on out is a little rushed and "hurky jerky". I have a lot on my mind and frankly, I could write pages, just on Salt Lake City, but I also want to keep up with our drive.

All right, we're getting ready to check out and get on our way to Park City. I'll check in tonight when we get settled in Grand Junction. Wahoo!!


be sure to wear, some flowers in your hair...

hi - dana here, the photographer. i'll leave most of the lengthy writing to miss kathy,
i'm just here with your eye candy...

the night before justin & i headed out of rdu, ava knew something was up..
and in the meantime, she had the sweetest look on her face... had to post this one.

getting into SFO on aug. 7th...

this guy is my new hero...

on the BART on the way to the hotel... the laughs begin.

and we arrived @ hotel des arts ...

to check in to the jeremy fish room #412 the first night...
amazingly beautiful. and in a great part of san fran! justin looks so purty in that room...

and kathy grinning in the jeremy fish room..

goofballs at our best!

oh p.s. we like it dirty.

anywho, then we headed down to the irish bank, around the corner from the hotel from some grub...

after lunch, we walked around to take in some of the "sights"... including... BEARS!
(one of my favorite shots of the trip so far in fact)

a bit more of san francisco to come... stay tuned!!

On the Road!!!

We left Concord, CA at 10:45 a.m., yesterday...only 45 minutes behind schedule and set out for Tahoe City, CA. Initially, I was extremely tense (for those of you who know me, this should come as no surprise). The traffic was relatively heavy going through Sacramento; the Garmin lady was giving me lip and Gramps was not in the mood to settle down.

I was thrilled to see the landscape change from arid and mediterranean to alpine in a few short hours. It was nice to see "real" mountains--- bigger and more impressive than Mt. Diablo and its surrounding foothills. I think we got up to about 6,200 above sea level. I realize that the drive through the Rockies is going to dwarf that experience very soon, though.

We stopped in Truckee and at Lake Tahoe and were completely impressed. Great towns, nice people, gorgeous scenery. I've never really experienced mountains, ski towns, etc. It definitely seems my speed...