Tuesday, September 27, 2011

western wanderings: part i

Finally! I'm getting to our trip! Thanks to a great deal on flights, we were able to take an awesome trip out west. Unfortunately, we had a bit of a rocky start. I don't think Kurt and I will ever learn, but 6am flights are never a good idea. Never. Thankfully we were able to sleep on the planes from NYC to Chicago and then on to Denver, but I was not a happy camper at the beginning. When we arrived in Denver the trouble really began. After some miscalculation of rental car offices, we ended up taking a $100 cab ride from the airport. Then, not 10 minutes after picking up said rental car, we got a ticket for running a stop sign. A certain travel companion may blame himself for these missteps but I like to think it was a group effort. Luckily, things started looking up from there.

We had lunch in Denver at the Wynkoop Brewery near Union Station.

Kurt and Erik had visited this place on a previous visit to Denver and only had good things to say. 

We had some good food and shared a beer flight sampling all Wynkoop's brews.

Then it was time to hit the road. Originally we had planned on taking a "scenic route" from Denver to Green River, Utah, but time started slipping away from us and a 5 or 6 hour drive was looking much more appealing than an 8 hour one. Plus, any drive through the Rockies is going to be scenic.

We only chose to splurge on the compact, so the backseat was a bit of a squeeze. That middle seat was the most uncomfortable place ever. I was more than happy to volunteer to drive.

The drive from Denver was pretty fascinating. The mountains are gorgeous and you can see the landscape change as you move farther west. Eventually we reached the desert and stopped in Grand Junction, Colorado to get some supplies.

I still don't fully follow the liquor/beer laws in Utah, but they don't have much of a selection and the beer is a lower alcohol content. Lots of political pressure (particularly those of a religious nature) keep the laws enforced. The rules are much looser across state lines, so we stocked up on beer, liquor, and boxed wine at the Liquor Barn in Grand Junction.

Even for us spoiled kids from NYC, I was impressed by their stock. There were miles of wines and liquors and tons of craft beers.

The Martigs were so excited about all the local beer they were finding.

I, however, was so excited to find Utica Club! (Mom, this one's for you!) My mom, grew up in Utica, New York, and she and my dad always talk about Utica Club and how awful it was. It's still pretty awful, but I couldn't pass up the chance to try some. My heritage maybe? Too bad it was Utica Club "Light". I'm still holding out hope that the "Regular" is decent.

A couple hours and some car trouble later, we made it to Green River to meet the crew at the Epicenter. There was volunteer orientation for Project Green River and we played a rousing ice breaker game. There is a strong Auburn population in Green River and we were sure to include a "War Eagle" or two during the game :)

Eventually, the long day and time zone changes caught up with us and we were ready for bed. The gang set us up in Y'alls House (ie the bunkhouse) and we hit the sack to prepare for the next day.

Stay tuned for many more parts of our trip!

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