Boulder, The Rockies, downshifting, screaming, Googling, etc

After Kansas we hit up Boulder, CO to visit friend and former colleague Kene where he now lives on a goat ranch while working on his post-doc.  Be still my bleating heart.  I almost made off with a small goat named Honey, but with the two cats I wouldn’t want to get pulled over for any Zanesville shit.  Oh, this is Kene’s yard:

Oh, and just to digress for the record’s sake, I permitted Dharia to visit a prairie dog colony local attraction but only because it was within 10 miles of Kene’s ranch.  It was built because Celestial Seasonings was gassing them and controversy ensued.

Dharia swears she saw one.  Oh well, we certainly did get to see Kene’s llama:

We had a delicious lunch in Boulder and stopped into a small warehouse called “La Fromagerie” where Matthew gave us a 10 minute time limit.  Think Supermarket Sweep in a refrigerated room filled with cheese.  The joy, the pain.

Soon we were rumbling towards the Rockies with Dharia behind the wheel.  Right away we started seeing some of the more threatening signs we’d so far.  Like “Avalanche Zone” followed by “Deer Stampedes Next 80 mi” and something about not trying to exit the highway if your brakes go.  When we started seeing snow, the signs changed to these incredibly snarky statements which I can’t remember because I probably entered a subconscious fugue state after we encountered our first stretch of “5-7% grades next X mi.”

Our engine made a terribly frustrated sound and we crawled downwards as the RPMs shot up and whined at 4500.  I yelped “downshift!” but when Dharia kachunked the thing into 2nd gear it didn’t help at all.  In fact it was even scarier, so we put it back into D and I wrenched open the laptop.  I Googled something like “7% grades RV downshift” and started clicking my way through several RV  message forums.  Other people had wanted to know about downshifting, probably when they weren’t already barreling down a Rocky, so I started rattling off what I could find.  I learned a lot.  It was kind of like when Neo downloads all those fighting techniques into his brain in The Matrix.

“Downshift BEFORE starting the steep descent!”

“It’s your rig and your life; don’t worry about traffic behind you!”

And as I was imparting this message forum wisdom to the Captain the signs were getting even snarkier, and I remember one saying something like “7 more miles of 6% grade/don’t even think about speeding up.”

But like so many RVs before us, we made it down just fine and were rewarded with beautiful scenery until dark.

Safely docked at camp (I think it was called River Dance RV Park) we unpacked our Fromagerie sweep and replaced our cares with cheese.


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we still don’t know what The Wondrous Telephone is, but someone else wrote a poem about that same stretch of I-70 we were on.

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Day 4: We love up on Kansas

Captain Lena keeps requesting an 8 am pushback. While we’re not completely on-time  yet, we have hit our stride in learning the morning routine. Matthew manages the outside stuff. We stow everything from the night before. Flight attendants, please prepare the cabin for departure. (Pro tip: remember to stow the tea kettle. they were not road tested for hitting the floor at 70 MPH. oops.)

Even though i’m a vegetarian, i know it is blasphemy to pass through Kansas City without having real BBQ. It was only 11 am, but we pulled into Zarda’s BBQ right when they opened. We were too busy devouring our food to remember to take pictures. I had multiple fried side dishes. it was delicious.

At this point, we hadn’t stopped to see a SINGLE tacky tourist shop, boring historical marker or abandoned building.  Just when i was in total despair that i would never see anything OTHER than I-70, Lena fell in love with some giant rolls of hay. I was given permission to detour the RV on a brief “historic byway” trip.

As we cruised our way through a picturesque kansan landscape, I finally got some of my ‘tourist itch’ scratched. You know how i love me dead buildings!

At this point, Lena was still refusing to let me stop for any bad tourist attractions. When we saw signs for Giant van Gogh, however, she acquiesced. Matthew found us a campsite in Goodland, KS so we could stop on our way out of town to see the big tacky thing first thing in the morning and then hit the road west.

Important rituals that happen when we par: Hookup water & electric, mark our trek for the day on the map, mix cocktails. Here Matthew reaches the end of the East Half of the US and does the ceremonial flipping of the map to the West Half. Lena fixes us a nice cocktail and we hunker down for the evening.

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you can’t prove anything

Zoo animals on the loose in ZANESVILLE, OH?! We were just there… Sabine swears she had nothing to do with this.


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Cruise America spirits (and gustatory accessories) menu

Lovingly stowed in a box labeled “hats” we have:

– Cascade Mountain Distillery gin
– Tanqueray gin
– 35 mL of Bombay Sapphire gin
– 3/4 pint Stoli vodka (in a jar)
– We had reposado tequila
– 200 mL Wodka Zoladkowa Gorska
– A nip of Malibu
– A nip of Goldschlager
– 50 mL Triple Sec
– Campari
– Becherovka
– Tunel
– 50 mL dropper bottle of Chartreuse
– 50 mL dropper bottle of Cynar
– 25 mL dropper bottle of Clear Creek Distillery pear liqueur
– Reagan’s orange bitters
– Scrappy’s lavender bitters
– Angostura bitters
– Q tonic
– Cucumber sparkling water
– Milk
– Not from concentrate lemon juice
– 2 grapefruits
– eggs
– simple
– honey
– ice

The Salt Louis motto?

Drive all day, party just enough.

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a little too familiar?

Once we stop rolling, everybody has to use the facilities:

Lena & Griffin share some quality time together….

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Day 5 map

We are working on writing updates for the past couple days, but we have taken so many great pictures and have awesome stories to tell.  Lena is fighting with her computer to make it upload her day 4 post. I would post my pictures, but frankly, i’m just beat.

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Lucas, Waldo, Russell, KS: Intentional diversions

Dharia was really itching for some scenic byway action, and she mapped out a brief diversion of about 18 miles North of I-70 to the town of Lucas, Kansas.  But while we were still cruising on the interstate we were treated to two excellent flat landscape visual treats: wind power turbines and hay rolls.

I don’t understand how these modern windmills can be considered eyesores by anyone.  In particular, the residents of Salt Louis are taken by their seemingly random placement, their primitive-yet-alien appearance, and their sheer size.

And oh, the hay rolls.  I love hay rolls.  I want a pet hay roll.  The way they are scattered around the open fields makes them look like the are alive and grazing at an imperceptible speed.

Sometimes they get organized.

Right after we merged off I-70 towards Lucas we saw single hay roll by the side of the road.  The rest of the crew, having heard miles worth of continuous gushing about my love, nodded solemnly and then I was running towards it.

And now I love Kansas.  Lucas turned out to be a small “art town” with lots of interesting public “art.”  I wanted to stay behind, introduce the town to Cynar and become a local hero, but we had to move on down the road.  To Waldo.  There were a few picturesque abandoned structures, but so very little else.  Matthew looked it up on Wikipedia and found it has a population of 30 people.  Then we drove through Russell on our way back to I-70 where Dharia, in an A&W root beer float frenzy, nearly muscled a pick-up truck off the road.  It was the truck’s fault for passing on the right on a road that had no lane demarcations, but when they also pulled in to the A&W Dharia refused to get out of the vehicle.  I understood this, having once thrown a half-empty yogurt container into a trash can at a gas station only to have it bounce and splatter onto a shiny red pick-up somewhere in North Carolina and I screamed at my mom to FLOOR IT out of there, so I went in and got Dharia her tasty float.  Then we were back on the road heading towards Colorado, but in the end I think everyone found something to love in Kansas.  Matthew loved that Wikipedia article.

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Day 4: just the map

We are getting behind in our updates due to slow phone/internet in the mountains. We loved kansas! Well, the parts after topeka, at least. There are tons and tons of pictures we want to show. soon!

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Road Games

Every road trip requires a good counting game. We started with Silos after leaving Kingston, NY but that got too easy (and nearly tedious) halfway through Pennsylvania.

It is part of co-pilot’s duties to be Secretary of Counting. Lena brought a printout of every NPR station in the country to ensure we had important news (and Wait, Wait on saturday morning).

So we started counting stations having their pledge drive (which so far is all except 1 station in kansas).

Every day starts with one new game, while others are ongoing (pledge drives, large road kill). Yesterday we picked phrases from billboards that should be band names. With the added stipulation that you have to also specify what TYPE of band it it would be.

Other bands identified after the photo was taken:

  • City of Ellis
  • Living Snow Fence
  • Giant van Gogh
  • Greyhound Hall of Fame
  • The Wondrous Telephone
  • Gove City Yard

Obviously Satin Stitches is an all-girl hair band. Gove City Yard is a nouveau-gaelic storytelling jam band. Our favorite of the day is probably Giant van Gogh, but we still don’t know what kind of band it is…

Today we’ve got New Phrases to Use as Insults. They must be used in a sentence before being counted. Eg: “Fine, dude-in-the-Beemer, go ahead and pass me. you don’t have to be such a DitchWitch about it.”

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