Day 1: Crossing the Old West
Day One. Our end destination for the day was Denver, Colorado.
From Cedar Hills, Utah to Denver Colorado it was a driving time of just under 8 hours and about 496 miles. 8 hours and 496 miles with two children ages 5 and 2… Prayers, lucky charms, shooting star wishes, you better believe I was anxious and calling on any and all good vibes to be in our car. Our car was loaded with books, toys, snacks, a DVD player, movies, Disney music, blankets and anticipation.
Fortunately, my parents were kind enough to drive the giant moving truck, Budget (such an original name, I know), which meant I got Troy with me in the car with the kids. They left a few hours before us to hopefully make up for how slow the truck would be and allow for us to arrive in Denver close to each other.
Let the games begin, seemed like an appropriate thing to say as we backed out of the driveway and began our journey eastward.
We hit the road and we didn’t stop until we had reached Grand Junction. We pulled into McDonald’s and the whole family exploded out of that car! Troy pounded his hamburgers, I guzzled my Coca-Cola and the kids ran around that play place like little whirlwinds.
After eating and wiggling (not near enough wiggling), we loaded everyone back into their seats. Amazingly, Little Miss conked out five minutes later, and Bubs was pretty close afterwards. We were pleasantly surprised with the simultaneous nap session.
Right out of Grand Junction, we ran into a huge rain/wind storm. Troy had his hands at 10 and 2 holding the steering wheel in a death grip to keep the car from blowing off the road at one point, and luckily enough the kids slept through it, so for the next two hours we had some quiet time to enjoy the beautiful views of Colorado, the grandeur of the Colorado River and the Rocky Mountains (after the rain stopped that is).
It was gorgeous! I encourage everyone to take that drive across I-70 someday, because there are views that words and pictures can not do justice. I have lived in Idaho and Utah, we have hiked mountains, but this drive opened our eyes to some amazing new MOUNTAINS. Simply breathtaking.
Just about two hours after Grand Junction we came to Aspen, Colorado. This little mountain resort town was still covered in snow, even in the month of May. The hotels and cabins looked so cozy, nestled into the side of the mountains. It really made me want to stop and stay and take a ride on the ski lift, but there was no time for lingering! We did make a much needed, quick bathroom pit-stop, where we ran through the snow from the car to the rest area building in our short sleeves, shorts, and flip flops.
I told Bubs that this could very well be the last time we see real, deep snow for quite a while. That will be a major adjustment for us! We are used to feet upon feet of snow most winters!
As we continued our drive (through some snow flurries, I might add), we reached the Eisenhower-Edwin C. Johnson Memorial Tunnel by Dillon, Colorado.
At 48 feet tall and 1.697 miles long going eastbound, this tunnel was quite the sight. We entered the tunnel from the West at an elevation of 11,158 feet and came out the other side at 11,013 feet. The views on either side of the tunnel were amazing, but we were all enthralled by the inside of the tunnel, even if it was just concrete and lights! Bubs tried to count how long we were inside, Troy tried to hold his breath (oh brother, such a goof), and Little Miss was a little nervous about it but wanted to do it again once we popped out at the end. It was definitely an experience!
As we neared Denver, it started raining again in torrential sheets! Water was pooling on the side of the freeway and it made for some slow moving traffic for a little bit. The kids had been so good all day, and they could sense that we were almost there. Everyone was anxious to reach the hotel and then get some dinner.
My parents had gotten into Denver and checked into their room about 30 minutes before us, so our planning paid off! When we pulled into the parking lot of the Marriott Fairfield Inn and Suites near the airport, there were cheers and exclamations of happiness for having made it through the first of two of our longest drives of the journey. And to be honest, it wasn’t that bad! We were expecting and prepared for worse!
We ate dinner at Sizzler, conveniently located next door to the hotel, then went back to do some swimming in the hotel’s surprisingly warm pool. It felt like swimming in a giant bathtub! Just what we all needed after our long day of sitting and driving. I think needless to say, we ALL slept well that night!