Gracie was at the wheel. Andrew was barking out orders about upcoming lane changes. Semi trucks and commuters were all speeding by at 75 mph. I-70 at 6:15am was a very intense situation. We needed coffee and we needed it fast. Our marriage depended on it.
After finally getting out of the Denver metro area, we were in the heart of the Rockies. The Front Range welcomed us with snow and sleet. This did not ease our nerves, but we powered on through ski country by listening to Bon Iver, Fleet Foxes, and by having a pretty intense discussion about the future of higher education fundraising.
Still, no coffee or breakfast though. Things were starting to get dire. So just past Vail, we pulled over at a seemingly nondescript coffee shop. Little did we know that this place would change our lives forever.
It was here, in the snow dusted Shangri-La of western Colorado, that we discovered the Best. Homemade. Breakfast. Pastries. Ever. One was shaped like a massive bear claw and was covered in powdered sugar icing and cinnamon. The other was a homemade apple cinnamon pop tart. They cost $3, but we would’ve easily paid $300 for these bad boys. We had to restrain ourselves from hugging the young woman at the cash register.
Our harrowing morning drive was well worth this priceless find. You better believe we’ll be back, Coffee-A-Go-Go!
Rejuvenated, we cruised west into Utah. It was a new state for both of us, and we were both admittedly wondering what to expect. Orrin Hatch, polygamous marriage, the only church choir to rival beloved St. Olaf. We had our doubts.
But those were all quickly put aside by the almost indescribable beauty of Utah’s mountains, valleys, and sky-framing cathedrals throughout Arches National Park.
And since John Muir isn’t a posthumous contributor to this blog, we’ll simply share our photos and stop trying to put Utah’s beauty into words.
Several hikes, gorgeous photo-ops, and one very inspirational run-in with the Colorado MG Touring Club later, we settled into our campsite at Moab Valley Campground. It was a brisk 50 degrees and we warmed ourselves with one of Mitch’s gifts—a 2010 Ridge Ponzo Zinfandel—which brought us even more good cheer when a couple walked past and the woman shouted, “Lookee there, Jan! A woman after my own heart! Campin’ and drinkin’ her wine!”
We made fast friends with retirees Jan and Barb, who were “roughing it smoothly” in their 36 ft. RV, traveling from central Orgeon to visit family in DC. We shared fond stories about Capitol Hill and exchanged concerns about a potential government shutdown. Jan and Barb happily exclaimed how excited they were for our journey, then rushed off to their campsite, returning soon after with a bottle of wine, two bottles of Deschutes Brewery beers, and homemade beef jerky. As we thanked them and exchanged contact information, Barb held our hands and said, “now remember you two. There are kind, thoughtful people everywhere. Enjoy.”