Thanks to Henry, further entries will be accompanied with pictures. But I highly recommend you see his site for all of them, if you’re interested.
I’ve heard stories where, when girls spend too much uninterrupted time together, it does irreparable damage to their friendships. Like road trips, or any long trips. And like, my sister was telling me how she knew she couldn’t live with her closest friends. Is this true? How come this doesn’t happen with guys? I don’t know, but we pretty much were amused by each other the entire trip. I mean, we repeated the same jokes literally the entire time. The stupid huffy gruffie stuffy Egg McMuffie thing. The Amendment To Be song.
So one of the things I forgot to mention is how we amused myself on the long car rides. I amused myself a lot of the time by sleeping. But we did other things as well. Dave alluded to one conversation we had about our S.O.s. It was surprisingly enlightening. I learned stuff about Henry and Lorraine that I did not realize.
Most of the time, though, I think we were just dorks. I was saying how it’s nice to travel with easygoing people. It’s also good to travel with easily amused people. So for one long stretch of the trip, we went through the road atlas, state by state, and asked questions about the state: the state nickname, the state capital, the state’s rank in land area, and the state’s rank in population, as well as the population number itself. One person had the atlas, and would test the others. After we were done, we did Canada. And then we quizzed each other on the distances between North American cities.
It sounds pretty lame, which it was, but seriously, it occupied us for a number of hours. John fell asleep in the middle of us doing it, and I think he was shocked when he woke up and we were still doing it. He couldn’t believe we were quizzing each other from the atlas. What losers. But it was surprisingly entertaining.
I drove a long stretch from Wyoming to Colorado into Denver. It was kind of cool – Denver was the first big city we went through, so it was the first time we entered the suburb areas before getting into the city. The first big sign of Denver I saw was a John Elway car dealership. Another blessing from God was that driving through the Rockies wasn’t that bad. We took a route that took us slightly north, but I think it was a good decision. We didn’t really go through any mountainous areas. It’s harder going to Lake Tahoe I think. Or even Santa Cruz. Like I wrote, we were worried because of the engine overheating, how it would do in the mountains, but it turned out to not be a huge problem. Manageable, at least.
So in Denver, John left early. There was a shuttle from the Hotel to the airport, which was nearby, and he had to take care of things at the airport, so he left before any of the rest of us got up. That was kind of sad, but anyway. He had to leave for his brother’s graduation.
I don’t know whose idea it was, but we took a picture at every place we stayed at. So here’s the picture at the Denver Sheraton.
All of us contributed ideas for the trip. Someone had the hotel picture idea. My contribution I think was the quirky sight seeing. Like I said, doing the city things. And other things – I was big on the Continental Divide. I had stopped there in New Mexico as well, the last time I road tripped. I don’t know why I think it’s cool, I just do. But that was my contribution.
So in Denver, I figured we had to do the Denver thing. We got up late in Denver, around 11 or so, and I looked through the city guides in the hotel room to see what we should do. There were lots of things you can do in most cities, like parks, museums, shopping areas, whatever. But that’s not a Denver thing.
What we decided on were two things. One was to get a Denver omelette. I think I pushed this also, but I can’t remember. You know, any place that sells omelettes, one of the choices is a Denver omelette. For most of my adult life, I’ve wondered why it’s called a Denver omelette. What it is about Denver that warrants it. Was the omelette invented in Denver? Is it some other reason? Whatever the reason might be, there was obviously something special about omelettes in Denver, so we had to get one.
I looked through the city guides and found out there was a section of town that was kind of touristy, with shops and such, I believe called the 6th Street Plaza. I’m totally spotty on my memory of that, however, so I have no idea if that’s correct. Anyway, I looked at the restaurants in and around that area, and found two restaurants that seemed related to Denver omelettes, one of which was the Eggshell Cafe. With a name like that, you know they had to have omelettes.
So, we set off, and I led us to the area, guiding us to park conveniently on the extreme opposite side of the plaza from the restaurant. But whatever. It allowed us to walk through the plaza, which was closed to traffic, and actually quite nice.
I should preface that I really liked Denver. I strongly thought about moving to Colorado. I’m not joking. It’s just, the weather was so nice, the area was so clean, and it was still a bigger city than say Salt Lake City. I’m just very into good weather and clean cities that still have stuff to do. Denver was all of those things. And the suburbs, as we drove through, seemed nice also. And I’m sure housing is reasonable. I don’t know, in 5 years, I might be in Denver.
At any rate, we parked and then walked through the plaza. It was a beautiful day. Not too hot, not that crowded, a very clean street, just altogether pleasant.
Another side note. I only saw 2 homeless people in Salt Lake City, and they were surprisingly well dressed. I mean, they didn’t look like your typical homeless that you see in other cities. It was a bit surprising. There were more of them in Denver, but not a lot.
Here’s proof that we were in Denver.
We walked through the entire plaza, not a trivial walk, I think, and thanks to my sterling memory, found the world famous Eggshell Cafe.
While we were waiting, by the way, we were reading the Onion, which is this satirical newspaper. It had this one article that killed me. It was about a boy in a wheelchair. The headline states: God Answers Boy’s Prayers. Then it reads: He says no. I’m sorry, it’s wrong, but it was hilarious.
We got our food.
Fortunately, there’s a free shuttle that goes through the downtown area we were in, so we didn’t need to walk all the way back to the car.
So we did the Denver omelette thing. But that’s just a meal. It was very important to me to do something there that was very Denver. But I looked through the city guide, and none of the options really stuck out. Except one. The Coors Brewery in nearby Golden, Colorado. So really, it was no option as all.
For the second time on the trip, at my insistence we went westwards to see something. But I’m glad we went. Golden is, among other things, the final resting place of Jesse James. It’s crazy how many of the townspeople are employed by Coors. And Coors itself is just absolutely enormous.
So we got there (car overheating most of the way) and we parked in the guest parking. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but I didn’t expect a lot of people to be taking the tour. Boy was I wrong. There were quite a few cars in the parking lot, and we had to wait in line to get on the tour. A shuttle took us to the facilities from the parking lot, while she gave us educational information (like about the history of Coors and all that).
The facility itself smelled funny. I’m not sure what it was, but the whole area just kind of smelled weird. I would say it smelled like malt, if I knew what malt smelled like.
Anyway, we were taken to a room and given tickets, where we browsed and waited for our tour to start. There were a number of people there, so we had to wait.
The history of Coors, by the way, is fascinating. It was founded by Adolf Coors, who brought his brewing secrets from the old country. I don’t know, that name sounded like a Simpsons plot to me. But it was kept in the family, and the current head guy is still a Coors. For a long time, it was only regional, and it’s a relatively recent phenomenon that it became national. Now, it’s the 3rd largest brewery, behind Busch and some other company.
So I hate Nevada because it’s an entire state built on an industry I despise – gambling. Anyway, I just thought it was interesting that this entire city is built on an industry that, while I don’t despise it, don’t find particularly constructive either. Beer. I guess I don’t have anything really against beer. I just thought it was kind of sad, and maybe it’s misplaced, but sad that an entire city just depends on beer for their livelihood.
The most interesting thing about the history I think was what happened with prohibition. It was just fascinating to me, since the whole town is based on beer, how they coped with banning alcohol. It’s not just a company, it’s a whole town that’s in jeopardy.
So what Coors did is move to other products, most notably malted milk. So they had all these ads for Coors malted milk. And they used the facilities for other industries as well, like (I may be remembering this incorrectly) cement.
But Prohibition failed, and Coors went back into beer, with a vengeance. The history also showed some innovations like the aluminum can, the pop top (can you imagine having to use a can opener to drink?), and other advances.
Then we toured the facilities. Our tour guide was absolutely clueless, and I can’t recally whether she answered a single question asked correctly. But I still learned a lot about the brewing process. Like what hops is, and what it smells like. Dave tested some. It’s a weird, pungent sharp smell, and I presume taste. Another interesting fact is that a lot of the byproducts are used for animal feed. Another interesting fact is that the difference between light and regular beer is how long it’s allowed to caramelize. It’s that simple. I didn’t realize that.
The facility produces a serious amount of beer. Another interesting thing is that they have other breweries now, like in Virginia or Tennessee. So, it’s not advertised as having pure rocky mountain spring water anymore. It’s just pure water. I hadn’t realized that. Also, some college students came up with the nickname Silver Bullet for Coors Light, and then Coors trademarked it. After the tour, I was a little more cognizant of beer, and I realized that Coors Light is offered more than Coors. I guess it’s a popular light beer.
The tour guide also told us that employees get free beer after working hours. They used to be able to drink during working hours, but that policy was dropped for predictable reasons.
So at the end of the tour, they had a room where they offered free beer. Technically, you were allowed three beers, but if there was some kind of counting system I missed it. So it was essentially all you can drink free beer. I don’t know, there were some happy people in that room. The thing I couldn’t believe was how many children there were in the room. I personally would never take my kid to a beer brewing factory. But I suppose that’s just me. But there were a surprising number of children there.
So my goal wasn’t to get drunk but just to taste the different varieties they had. These included Coors, Coors Extra Gold, Coors LIght, Zima (in several varieties), and George Killian Red. George Killian was the guy who invented that brew, and Coors bought him out, but he still works there. His wife’s name I believe is Phyllis.
So I just asked the bartender for half glasses, and I don’t think he understood me. He kept asking me, “you know the beer is free, right?” But I just wanted a taste. I’m not much of a beer drinker, but to my taste buds, Extra Gold and George Killian (which taste almost identical) were the best. I liked Coors Light not at all. And Zima was pretty much disgusting.
So I think the others may have been a bit annoyed that we went to Coors, as the tour was not that interesting for us, and a little longer than we planned. But I’m really glad we went. It was very Colorado.
So after that we left, way later than we planned to, which was bad because this stretch was the longest of the journey. We had to go through the entire state of Kansas. Kansas is a long state. And boring. But leaving late was a chronic problem. On a road trip like this, I’d say normal people would leave at like 9 AM. Or at least something AM. We regularly started our journeys in the mid afternoon, sometimes closer to evening. So we always arrived very late to our destinations.
At first I liked Kansas. We stopped by a travel center just inside the Kansas border.
But it was a seriously long stretch of driving. I was trying to go a little fast, since with that much distance, a little speed makes a big difference. So I was going 82 MPH. And I believe the speed limit was 70 MPH. Anyway, what I didn’t really think about much was that I was passing a bunch of cars, and they all had Kansas license plates. Whereas the cars in the passing lane didn’t. Meaning, the natives must have known that the highway patrol is a bit strict in Kansas.
To make a long story short, I got stopped for a ticket. But, that worked out OK, praise God, so it’s not a big deal. Just don’t speed in Kansas.
But we got into Kansas City really really late. Henry’s time estimate on the picture is wrong – we got in quite late, and Henry ended up getting very little sleep. To end, here’s the hotel picture for Kansas City.