After the Oregon Trail Ruts in Guernsey, we made for the nearest back roads to reach Devil’s Tower in time for sunset. It took us about 3 hours, but it was some beautiful countryside – mountain roads with lots of curves and switchbacks. Ponderosa pines lining the mountains, with signs of controlled fires that undoubtedly protected both the ecosystem and the homes. Incidentally my new Acura RDX also loved these roads 🙂 As we approached Devil’s Tower, we were immediately stunned but its sheer magnitude compared to everything else around. In fact, it reminded me a lot of Ayers Rock outside of Alice Springs, Australia. A lot of nothing and then…BOOM – a huge, towering formation….
Still on our first afternoon, and after a leisurely morning in Chugwater, we decided to take a small detour on the way to Devil’s Tower and visit some Oregon Trail sights based on the recommendations of a few folks we met in town. The chief being Oregon Trail wagon ruts – 5 feet deep wheel marks that were formed over the 50 years westward journeys of the pioneers. They were in a town called Guernsey, and we were able to take back roads from Chugwater. We got a little lost going through town because the turnoff was pointing down an alley that seemed to be a dead-end. We took the next road and ended up near the National Guard, so I ran in and asked if we were on the right track. The officer in charge was super nice and helpful and gave me overly-detailed directions turn by turn. We found the ruts after a 5 minute off-roading experience (the first in my new Acura RDX!)….
We hit the road around 830AM and first stopped for produce and snacks at the King Soopers nearby me in Denver, and the ATM. We were heading out of town by 915AM and made good time out of Denver into Wyoming. We crossed the border, refueled just outside Cheyenne, and then proceeded to miss Cheyenne (where we had wanted to stop and walk around). Apparently there only one real exit for Cheyenne (the State Capital and museum), and since we didn’t want to do either of those things, we dismissed that exit for the next one that never came. It wasn’t as large of a city as we thought. Our next opportunity to stop was Chugwater, Wyoming. Elana was starting to get hangry so we decided to take the exit. It turned out to be a great decision. Not only did we stumble in to a diner whose claim to fame was the best chili in all of Wyoming (and I bought the spice mix), but we also found ourselves in the state’s oldest soda fountain for delicious old-fashioned shakes after launch….
Our Denver road trip really started Wednesday night when I picked Elana up at Denver International Airport – she flew in from Newark, New Jersey (EWR) and was already ready for our Denver road trip and American adventure to begin. That night, since most restaurants nearby my new condo on Josephine Street had closed, we walked to Colfax looking for alternatives. We found a pizza place (Marco’s Pizza) but it had just shut down its ovens (Denver closes before 11PM). As we walked back to the 7-Eleven to stock up, we were chased by the Marco’s Pizza guy up the street, and were given coupons for free pizzas for the next time. Elana commented that this would never happen in NYC – people were way too nice in this part of the country (Denver)!….
We visited Rioja on two separate occasions – once on a day-trip from Bilbao and once on our way back to Barcelona, where we spent the night but didn’t have much time to do anything meaningful….