Monday, September 17, 2012

Hambones Across America II

(Did you think we forgot about the blog?  Because we kinda did.)

Part Deux: The Mountain States 

After some major biscuit confusion at the Carson City Carls Jr. (aka Hardees), we hit the road. Destination: Salt Lake City. Have you ever driven across Nevada? Don't. There's nothing there. Highlights included Ethan wearing a Burger King crown (Yeah there's so little in Nevada that we ate at Burger King. It was not good.)...

That's KING Hambone, to you.

...and me pretending to be European - which consisted of tucking my t-shirt into my shorts. 

"Ja, hallo? Warum sind wir bei Burger King? Es gibt nichts in Nevada. Danke, Google Übersetzer!"

And have you ever wondered how many times Sirius XM could play Collective Soul's '93 hit "Shine" in a day? Because it's like 6. I'm not complaining.

Besides that, it was hour after hour of this:

It's a lot worse than this picture.

Ok, the best part about this drive was right after we crossed into Utah and reached the Bonneville Salt Flats State Park. Just a giant dried up salt lake bed. All kinds of land speed records were set here. You know those commercials where there's nothing around and a bunch of cars are driving in formations? Yeah that's Bonneville Salt Flats. Despite Carla getting up to 101 on the interstate, we felt it was necessary to drive on the Salt Flats and see how fast a VW CC with 4 people and a lot of luggage could go (Jeans McQueen hit 117). You don't feel like you're going super fast - you feel like you want a lot more control of the car, because driving on salt is weird.

video
That squealing you hear is not a tortured animal, but Sarah, who upon watching the video later does not recall making said noises.

We used up all our gas on the Salt Flats and wisely decided to push on to SLC. Except then the gas warning light came on. And there were no gas stations showing up on the GPS until... well, we got pretty worried. We finally got to one, then made it to Salt Lake City in time for cupcakes. Sweet Tooth Fairy. They had a sign up for Cupcake Wars flavors that was TWO MONTHS OLD - tease. Also apparently a chain out there, so Sarah equated it in her head as "Gigi's of the West and most likely overrated" (it was).

How does she stay so thin with all these cupcakes? She's a magician. Also, a lot of dancing.
Thanks to some facebook.com suggestions, we ate at a really delicious Mexican place called Red Iguana.

The Killer Mexican Food?

Our waiter really loved pronouncing the Spanish words. Made them seem more exotic. ¡Hor-cha-ta! Anyway, Salt Lake City seemed like a pretty cool place. Saw a bunch of stuff from the '02 Winter Olympics - in which we finished 2nd in medal count, BTW. By "we" I mean 'Merica. Number one? A certain nation with great policies on naming children. Keep reading...

The next morning we're off to my Aunt Melissa's house in Redstone, CO. Driving through most of Utah wasn't a lot different than driving through Nevada. Well it was a lot prettier. Stopped at this mountain lake for the girls to frolick.

They got dizzy fast.

We had lunch in this tiny little town at a drug store soda fountain. Behind the counter was an interesting book - Sweet Land of Bigamy. Of thee I sing! I was taking a picture of some weird incense "flavors" and and a dude who was working there apparently made some comment about goosing me to get me out of the way. Yeah maybe Utah is kinda weird.

At some point in the afternoon, we started talking about kids names. We don't have kids yet. Neither do the Hambones. But it's fun to think up names. We were talking about a lot of ridiculous names, gender neutral names, etc. For some reason, Carla looks up that in Germany, names not only have to be distinctly male or female, but they can't cause any type of negative effect on the child's life (Freakonomics anyone?). My response to this was, "Germany's got it goin' on." And they really do. I mean, besides that ugly period from 1933-1945. That was a pretty bad time.

Around the Colorado border, we made a little stop at Dinosaur National Park.

We totally pulled over and took this picture as we left Utah.  Tricky.

Barefoot Contessa didn't know there were dinosaurs in North America. From the visitor center, we took a half mile trolley ride up to a building they basically built over a huge mass of exposed fossils. Pretty cool. You could even touch them and stuff. For some brilliant reason, we thought it'd be fun to hike back down (someone told us there'd be some exposed fossils along the trail - there was one). About five minutes in we realize hiking in the 100 degree desert wasn't our best idea of the trip. Somehow I sweat the least... maybe because I immediately went shirtless. But also because humidity is the bane of my existence. 80 in NC and I'm soaked, 100 in the desert and nothing.

He's STILL wearing jeans, folks.  In the 100 degree desert.  (Notice one leg is hiked though.)

A few hours into Colorado and Ethan is not at all impressed with the Rockies. Even after ending up on an unpaved state highway! We get to Redstone just in time to meet my aunt for dinner at the Redstone Inn. Well Taco's got a thing against eating in hotels... but the Redstone Inn might as well have been taken straight out of the Alps. Really good food - I had trout for the first time, which I had previously avoided because it feels a bit cannibalistic. Get it? Trout - Trout Man? Jokes!

We didn't go swimming. But we did eat under those umbrellas.
Photo credit: Interweb

It was dark as we traveled up the mountain to Melissa's house. Saw lots of deer. No bears, though apparently one and her cub had been hanging out in Melissa's neighborhood. I had to assure Sarah we were off-grade enough that the bears wouldn't get in to open the window overnight (bears are excellent climbers). When we got up the next morning and looked outside, we didn't really want to keep going on our road trip. Melissa does a lot of traveling, but it was easy to see why they chose this as their home base. I just got an email from her this morning inviting us back, we're going to have to take her up on that!

Why is it called Redstone?

We decided to take the super long way to Denver - through a little place called Aspen. (Made an inordinate amount of Dumb & Dumber jokes while there.)  Had lunch there, and then over Independence Pass. There were no guardrails. There should have been. The views were much better than the interstate, and it was pretty cold at the top due to elevation.

The best part about this stop? Outhouses. 

After going down over 6,000ft, at the base of the Rockies, we reach the Mile High City - Denver. Denver was founded in 1858 by settlers traveling west who got to the Rocky Mountains and said, "AW HELL NO." I can see Denver being a pretty cool place, maybe we just hit the wrong places that night. Rain certainly didn't help. The next morning we hit up this place called Snooze for some breakfast.

This better be worth it.

There was a 30 minute wait. On a Thursday. At 10:00am. Either no one in Denver works, or we fell for a tourist trap. Whatever though, it was worth the wait. Before we left town though... yep. Cupcakes.



Sarah's new cupcake-bff worked at Big Fat Cupcakes, which is in no way a misnomer. We got 4 enormous ones - which contained both the best AND worst cupcakes of the trip. The worst was an orange push-pop flavored beast which didn't even get finished. The best was a chocolate cake with Andes mints melted inside and a mint icing. Much like peanut butter and chocolate, this is a good gauge of a cupcake shop. Big Fat Cupcakes hit a home run with this one.*

*Altitude makes it a lot easier to hit home runs at Coors Field, kick field goals at Mile High Stadium, etc. I'm not saying this applies to cupcake home runs, but this applies to cupcake home runs.

There is a part III to this trip.  In theory.

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