As a young southern boy, growing up I always loved taking road trips. But our road trips were maybe 3-4 hours tops, nothing like what Liz and I just did. From Atlanta we crossed over 8 states to reach Boise, Idaho. Growing up in Georgia, I have noticed that most who are born and raised in that part of the country don’t usually venture much beyond the southeast. Even as a kid, our road trips as a family didn’t cross the Mississippi River and we never came close to the Mason-Dixon line. So I honestly didn’t know what to expect with a 35 hour trip driving across the country!
As we packed up our little Toyota Scion, I was bit nervous leaving the south. I have lived in some great places from Asheville, NC to Knoxville, TN, but never really leaving the South. After saying our goodbyes to our family and friends in and around Atlanta, we headed toward our first stop in St. Louis, Missouri to stay with a friend’s sister. We just recently traveled to St. Louis for GeoWoodstock, so I didn’t think much about it. I just wanted to get there and rest because I knew the next day would be a long 13 hour day of driving through new territory.
Our hosts in St. Louis were just the best. We ended us staying in Man-Cave heaven. The wall was filled with all kinds of sport memorabilia, posters, and news clippings. There was a beautiful bar that overlooked a ping pong table and many other fun games and activities. I was in heaven! Liz & I couldn’t stop talking about how this is our “Dream Basement”. Stacey and Dave, you guys are the best for letting these two unknown travelers stay a couple of hours with you!
The next morning we awoke extremely early to hit the road, knowing that this was going to be a long long stretch through Missouri and Kansas. Everyone who has driven I-70 through Kansas knows it can be quiet long and boring at times. Ok, it’s boring most of the time. I have never stepped foot into Kansas before, so I was looking forward to what it had to offer.
One thing that hits you as you cross into Kansas are all the flat, beautiful farms. Then 5 hours later, you realize you are still seeing all the same looking farms and windmills. Another couple of hours later you think that you must be done with Kansas soon, then you realize you are not even halfway through the state! Ok, everyone was right about Kansas. It is beautiful, but it’s the same scene outside the window for many hours. Good thing that we had a couple of awesome geocaches to break up the drive.
Geocaching is a great way to break up long road trips, especially one like this. We found caches in every state we crossed on this journey. The great thing about geocaching is that if you see something cool off the road and think that it would be fun to explore, more likely there is a geocache there to go after. In fact, we were able to find the Oldest Active Geocache in the World placed in Mingo, Kansas. This cache was placed on May 11, 2000. Just a couple of days after the very first cache was placed, making this the 7th oldest in the world. Considering now that there are 2.6 million caches hidden all around the world, this was a pretty cool find!
A few hours beyond Mingo, Kansas we hit the beautiful state of Colorado. Our final destination this day was to stay with a friend just outside Denver. It happened to be perfect timing because we got the chance to see another one our close friend’s who lives on the road as a stage manager for Vans Warp Tour. We were arriving on their last day of the tour in Denver, so we drove straight to Mile High Stadium to meet our host and friend, Chris, as well as my childhood friend Justin.
We pulled up to the chaos of Warp Tour and made our way through the crowd to meet our friends. Honestly this is exactly what we needed after a 13 hour drive. It was great to unwind a little with lifelong friends, and having VIP backstage access was the cherry on top! After listening to some music and having a couple of cheers, we were off to Boulder to stay with our friend Chris and take a break from the road the next day.
Boulder is such a beautiful mountain town with a cool vibe to it. Actually, all of Denver and Colorado has a pretty cool vibe to it. Here we also caught up with another travel buddy of ours, Josh from Aim to Travel blog. We met Josh for brunch the next day in downtown Boulder called Snooze. The food was great but company was even better. We first met Josh at TBEX in Toronto and then several months later we met in Atlanta, and now Boulder. It’s always great to see you my friend and we look forward to seeing you again in far off land.
After a late brunch we went out to explore Red Rocks Amphitheater. This has always been high on my list to checkout. We showed up a little bit late and were unable to see the historic amphitheater due to a concert, but we did get to explore around the outside for a little bit. We also took some time to grab a geocache in Red Rocks. Overall Boulder, and Colorado in general, was an awesome experience. We got to visit with some life long friends and had a couple first experiences that only Colorado and Washington have to offer. Love Colorado! We will be back again soon!
The next morning we woke up before the sun again to hit the road for yet another 13 hour drive, but this time the drive was so much more scenic. We drove through the beautiful Colorado mountains, stopping for a morning coffee and stroll in Vail, then into Utah. I thought Colorado was amazing and nothing could beat that, until we crossed into Utah. I thought we were on another planet with beautiful rock formations around every corner!
We decided to pull off and go explore Utah and some of the beautiful National Parks on the way. We knew that Arches National Park was a must, so we decided to take a bit of a detour and a break from the road. When we pulled up to the park, you should have seen the looks on our faces, this place was amazing. We decided to get out of the car to stretch our legs with a 3 mile roundtrip hike to see the famous Delicate Arch. This was easier said than done, but the reward after a long and hot hike was well worth the effort.
Arches National Park ranks high on this Southerner’s list of most beautiful places thus far. The Arches did not disappoint with miles and miles of views everywhere around us. There are several more beautiful National Parks in this part of the country that we would have loved to go and explore. Honestly, I could have stayed a few more days doing so, but the road was calling us again. After taking this afternoon detour, detour we knew we had a long night ahead of us driving to Boise.
Unfortunately, I am not a great night driver. It makes me feel a bit old, but I’ve accepted the fact. So Liz drove us the majority of the way to her home just outside of Boise in Nampa, Idaho. She made it through this part of the trip and after hiking for several miles in-between. We had both had a very long day and were exhausted after the hike at Arches, but I think she was ready to see her home. So she happily drove us all the way, arriving just after 3 in the morning; making the last day of our journey a 23 long hour day!
So after a long cross country trip under my belt, now I think we could do it again if we needed to. One thing that I did notice is that trips like that are made so much easier with someone that can let loose and have fun with you. Meaning singing and dancing to loud music and just acting goofy sometimes. Liz was a trooper for listening to me singing to her and letting us take a couple of detours to find some caches.
Now, here we are relaxing at Liz’s childhood home for a few days before we hit the road again. But this time we will head out in a motorhome to Stanley, Idaho and one of Liz’s favorite places in the world, Red Fish Lake. I’ve heard that it’s a little bit of heaven there, so I am really looking forward to possibly taking a polar plunge into the clear glacier water!