Day 1: Miles Driven 185. Total Miles Driven 185
We were both awake at 4am but we did sleep very well up to then. A good 6 hours probably.
Had breakfast in the hotel at about 715. It was really good and even better being free, or rather included in the room rate: waffles, pancakes, bakery, cereal, yoghurt, scrambled eggs, sausage, tomatoes. And very good coffee.
We got the shuttle bus from the Marriott to Dollar rent a car at the airport and picked up our car, a Ford Focus. Our luggage all went in very well which was a relief. And off we went! We took Interstate 25 north being careful to stay off the toll road which our GPS would have sent us down. Issue being that you have to have an electronic pass to go on it and being in a hire car, we didn’t have one.
Our first stop was Fort Collins, Colorado, about 75 minutes north of Denver, to visit my old friend Ricky. I’ve known him since high school in West Orange, New Jersey when I was an exchange student and we’ve kept in touch over the decades since. He’s a writer, an IT guy, a wonderful gardener, a traveller and a baker. Oh, and he loves sushi too! We havent visited him since he moved to Colorado 2 years ago so it was lovely to see his new townhouse which was amazing. We also met his lovely lady, Carol and it was great to see them so happy together. Ricky is kindly storing our cruise case for us till October.
Fort Collins is a picturesque western town with lots of cute bungalow cottages, lots of restaurants, Colorado State University and a nice view of the foothills of the Rockies to the west. It’s right where the plains start to run into the mountains.
Ricky took us out to lunch to his favourite sushi bar in Fort Collins, called Jaws, website
and we had the most delicious lunch of sushi and sashimi, and some really delicious warm mussels in a creamy mayo. We ate loads. Talked about our travels. Ricky and Carol have some very exciting trips coming up: Antarctica but before that Italy! An odd coincidence when we were leaving. We bumped into a couple who were sitting in the row in front of us on the plane yesterday! What were the odds on that? Back to Ricky’s for a delicious taste of his date and walnut loaf cake, plus he gave us a box of his Rock fruit buns. We’d brought him over Maltezers and Shortbread! All too soon we had to bid them farewell and head off but we will see them again in October when they come and visit us in Breckenridge.
We headed north from Fort Collins towards Laramie and Cheyenne, across the state line in Wyoming. As we headed north, the land changed to undulating grasslands in every direction, sometimes with strange rocky outcrops sticking up. We branched west away from Cheyenne towards Laramie along a scenic byway called Happy Jack Road, as far as Curt Gowdy State Park. Just wonderful pasturelands all the way with a few horses, some cows, deer at one point and often, nestled in dips in the hills, tidy homestead sized farms. I don’t suppose its changed all that much in 200 years except the houses have modernised.
We just had a quick drive through Curt Gowdy State Park because time was getting on but it was very attractive, with lakes and rivers and nice campgrounds. People were setting up for the evening around the lakes, getting canoes out and fishing.
We headed back to Cheyenne and found a Walmart to get the grocery items we needed for the next week, plus some “tools” for our trip. We bought a really big coolbox on wheels which was on sale for a stunning $19. I shall be very sorry to eventually have to leave it behind. It’s going to be our travelling fridge for our groceries. We also got large Ziploc bags to make ice packs for the box and some smaller ones for daily lunches. Got the makings of lunches, some microwave dinners for the nights we are self catering and some breakfast items for the one morning we are not getting a free breakfast. We will shop again when we get to Billings in about a week.
Had a quick drive through Cheyenne which looked a town worth a deeper explore. Lots of historic buildings in the centre, dating back to the late 1800s/early 1900s and the days of the building of the Union Pacific Railroad. The railway station is still a magnificent monument to those times. We saw several trains this afternoon. Monstrously long freight trains, with literally over a hundred freight cars in tow. They must be well over a mile long, maybe more. Fascinating to see. Certainly we have nothing like it in the UK.
On to our stop for the night which is the Marriott TownPlace Suites, another free night on points like the Residence Inn by Marriott last night, just on the outskirts of Cheyenne. Its a big modern place, another longstay hotel and we got a suite which has a kingsize bedroom, bathroom, lounge/diner with full kitchen. Not quite a swishy as the Residence Inn but very comfortable.
The weather today was pretty nice. Sunny with a few clouds, not humid at all and about 28C.
We self catered tonight. A chilli con carne which I microwaved. Not expecting much, I have to say it was utterly delicious and we will look for it again when we next shop. It cost about $5 and the two servings were plenty big enough. We finished off with some of Ricky’s rock buns which were totally yum, very nice spicing and fruit. Ricky’s recipes
That’s a link to Ricky’s website where he has many of his fantastic recipes plus photos, short stories and travel tales. Hoping for a better night’s sleep tonight and not to see 4am!