Day 2 – We woke up in Salina, Kansas, ready for another very long day on the road. We enjoyed the fine hotel breakfast that the Baymont Inn put on, loaded up the suburban and set sail for Avon, Colorado…a small community outside of Vail.
*Helpful tip: We always attempt to book a room that includes breakfast. Most of the time the offerings are reasonable, it fills our bellies, and as a family of seven, it saves a small fortune over the course of a long trip like this. Bonus points if the hotel also a complimentary evening social too. *
En route to Colorado, we stumbled on a town called Colby, Kansas. C.B.’s given name is Colby so this was really exciting. There was a water tower with Colby on it, an ag-resource store, a park, and even a visitor’s center with the boy’s name on it. How fun is that?
The kids and I enjoyed our second drive up, over, around, and through the Rockies. We’re east coasters that have spent a lifetime buried deep in the Appalachian Mountains so it’s a special treat to be within another massive mountain chain. They’re so much different than the mountains we’re all used to.
There was a pull off near the base of the mountain that offered a nice walking trail. After a full day on the road, that was such a nice treat. Our C.B. has a crazy eye for details and is always finding the weirdest stuff. At that nice little pull off in the Rockies he found (and attempted to bring home), a full elk skull complete with antlers wedged high in a tree, which he clamored up and evicted; a bungie cord which he used to attach the massive log he found to the back of his pants, and a full set of adult clothing plus a wallet and minus any identifying information. Terrifying. I hope whomever all of that belonged to was ok. That marked the end of our exploring there. Scary, scary stuff!
We landed, late in the evening at the Sheraton in Avon where the kids promptly popped out of the car to play with the giant chess board they had out front. After check-in, we took a minute to explore our room and suited up for a swim in their hot-tub warm, outdoor pool. It was a balmy 33 degrees at the base of the Rockies that night and it was fabulous!
After our swim and our incredibly speedy walk back to the hotel room (BRrrrrr!) we ordered, hands-down, the very worst pizza we’ve ever had. I’m not sure what the Dominos did to it but it was very, very wrong. We weren’t that hungry anyway.
Day 3- The Sheraton was a resort that boasted a level of opulence we’re not accustomed to. We had a lovely, two-bedroom suite with a full kitchen, dining area, a fireplace in the living room, and a balcony with a grill to cook on. It was stunning! It also lacked a morning breakfast buffet. So, we grabbed a quick, organic breakfast at a local café and headed off, bound for Moab, Utah.
Now, during our first trip west, I’d have told you Utah was the last place on my list to get back to. Talk about a whole lot of nothing….on I-15 anyway. Much like Kansas and the first long stretch of Colorado (and a slew of other great states), you have to actually exit the highway and go for a little drive to see what the area really has to offer. Utah was no different except that the little drive off the main drag is actually a pretty considerable haul.
About a week before we left Pennsylvania, my brother made a compelling case to spend a little time in Moab. So, I changed a couple stops around and made Moab happen. Boy was I glad we did! It’s such a beautiful area! On our way in to Moab, we stopped at Canyonlands National Park and took on the Mesa Arch trail. That was our first ever, up-close look at that type of terrain. Watching the children take it all in was so neat.
Our hotel for the night, like most of the others we stayed in outside of our national parks, was a Best Western. Best Westerns, for us, have been a pretty solid place to camp out for under $100. Once in a while you get a smelly one but for the price, they’re decent, they include breakfast, and they’re parked about as close to the national parks as you can get without spending three or four times as much on their site-specific resorts.
We enjoyed dinner at a place called Zax…steak, burgers, pizza, and a fun, outdoor rustic-style flame to keep the patio warm. Excellent stuff! We hit the pool just before bed and again we were met with the super-warm pool and cool evening air. I could do that every night. It’s so refreshing.