Long day today. When I sat down to write this I had trouble remembering what state I started in. Ummm… Nebraska. So the rest of Nebraska was cows and hay. Flat and straight. But the sky was big and blue so it wasn’t a bad stretch at all. I don’t know how its possible, but I swear the sky here takes up more than ¾ of the view.
After 2 and a half days straight I veered left and said goodbye to Rt 80. I’ve driven into Denver twice before but both times they were at night. I’ve always wondered how one gets to be at altitude when driving into Denver. It always seems so flat and Denver just kind of creeps up. When I was younger I imagined the “mile high city” was surely surrounded by sheer cliff and rose out of the plains like a monolith. To my disappointment, I found this to be false in ’06 when I first came into town. I was hoping today’s drive could shed some light on the situation. Everything got cooler in CO, but the day light only confirmed that the entrance to the greater Denver area is a non event. It must be a slow incline to reach that mile, because even today I felt like I was driving through flat plains all the way into the great Denver area.
The first time I saw the Rockies looming on the horizon, my heart skipped a beat. I love the western mountains. They are brash and impulsive compared the dignified old hills out east. Living in Denver was what helped me make my decision to move to LA. I think I wrote “the ring of mountains around the city is like mother earth’s strong embrace.”, or something grandiose like that. I still love to look past a city’s high rises and see a mountain range in the hazy background.
The drive through the Rockies is an ear popping rollercoaster through some spectacular alpine scenery, and my favorite drive in the world. You climb into the sky, passing boom towns turned rest stops and alpine forrests until the Roosevelt Tunnel. Then you cut through the top of the mountain, passing the Continental Divide midway, and shoot out the other side, flowing out like the rivers that are now flowing in the same direction around you. Then its dive, dive, dive. I doubt if I hit the gas once in 15 miles. Driving stick is really fun here, I didn’t even have to brake, just downshifted and glided from the top of the world into the valleys below.
I had a craving since Illinois. I really wanted Colorado Green Chili. I had been looking at every truck stop and gas station. My eyes were trained for that tiny, hand made sign, “Homemade Green Chili”. No dice. I decided that once I was safely away from Vail and Breckenridge and all that nonsense, I’d pull off the main highway and drive until I found I little cabin in the woods with that sign in the window. Colorado Green Chili is awesome. Problem (for me) is that its supposed to be made with pork. Personally I think it tastes just as good(if not better…) without meat, but I’ve had it with pork before and today I want it however I can get it. I pulled of the 70 in Minturn. It’s a nice little town. Kind of place hippies, artists, and ski bums go when they’re rich. The little cabin in the middle of nowhere wasnt what I found, but I ended up happy none the less.
I stopped at the only restaurant I could find, called the Turntable Restaurant. The place looked closed from the outside, but although it was absolutely empty, it was cozy inside. Full of kitch and apparently, great green chili. The waitress/bartender/cook was a nice young lady, she really wanted to be helpful. I asked her if she had anything vegetarian with no cheese or cream…
“oh so you’re a vegan or whatever?”
“uhh yeah basically”
“yeah, we can do vegan stuff.”
“great! I’ll tell you what, I’ve been craving green chili since new york city, can I have a vegan burrito with green chili??”
“sorry our green chili has pork in it”
“that’s ok, I’ll make an exception. Can you use it with the vegan burrito? That would be great!”
“you want a beef burrito with green chili?”
“no….can I do green chili on the vegan burrito?”
“you’re vegan right?”
“yeah, I guess, but…”
“the green chili has pork in it.”
“I know…its ok, i………do you sell cups of green chili?”
“I’ll have that please.”
My goal was to get to western Utah before sunset, but didn’t quite make it in time. There was a specific view point I though would look cool at golden hour, but by the time I got there it was a little too late. I did manage to snap a couple cool long exposure shot after the sun set completely. The full moon draped the countryside with a bluish white light.
I was a little bummed I couldn’t see this amazing portion of the American landscape in daylight, but Destino had another plan for me. The full moon provided an eerie landscape, and navigating through it felt like some alien road trip. Especially because I had no phone service for 2 hours and I was the ONLY one on the road! I was on route 70, a major artery horizontally from the Eastern seaboard to Nevada, but for 120 miles from Green River to Salida, I saw no other person on the highway going my direction. I saw 3 trucks going the other direction. It was beautiful, but freaky as hell! I could’ve probably taken some of the coolest photos I’ve ever taken if had pulled off in and gotten out, but I was scared shitless of alien abduction. Lets be real, this is UFO country people
There were no rooms at the inn at Moab or Salida, so here I am in Richfield. Too tired to get in to it but this town is weird. When I asked the front desk lady if there was anything I should see in Richfield tomorrow before I left town, her answer was
“Uhh, I guess the fires down the highway.”
Too tired for highlights and lowlights, so I guess…