Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Last road trip of the summer - Denver!

About two weeks ago we had the chance for one more road trip adventure this summer!  We set out Wednesday morning and planned for a long day of driving.  We stopped for lunch at small, independent sub shop and then we stopped at a random park in Nebraska later in the day.  We tried for a more relaxed supper at a restaurant, but by that point we were all a little fried.

We spent our first night at a hotel in Sterling, Colorado.  We drove between two storms that evening.  We could see rain on either side and some ominous clouds.  Just as it was getting too dark to see much of the landscape we noticed something glistening along the side of the road.  It almost looked like snow, but then we realized it was a lot of hail!  Sterling had been hit by a large storm less than an hour before we arrived, but we didn't get anything on our drive.

Thursday morning we just had a few hours before we arrived in Denver.  Our first stop was the Denver Children's Museum.  Our local museum membership has reciprocal benifits and we were glad to check it out.  The kids had a lot of fun playing in a fire truck and with bubbles.  The museum had an exhibit where they kids were able to fire compressed air rockets and make little parachute air craft that they really enjoyed. 

For lunch we took a recommendation from a tourist magazine and tried Two-fisted Mario's for excellent slices.  We walked up the 16th Street Mall to browse in Tattered Covers.  Catching the free shuttle bus back down the street was a highlight for the kids.

Our main goal for this trip was to meet up with some good friends.  My godson and his family live in Texas and were visiting his Grandparents in Colorado.  We were happy to have the chance to cross paths with them for a visit! 

C just turned 3 and is a fun little guy.  There was a lot of playing with trucks, slip 'n' sliding, and digging in the dirt.  It would be great if we could see them more often!

Friday morning we made a short visit to the Denver capitol building.  The kids were impressed with the big staircases and ornate building materials.

We met back up with our friends and headed to Casa Bonita for lunch.  Casa Bonita is a wild restaurant that is part Chuck E.Cheese, part Wall Drug.  The kids enjoyed watching cliff divers and a man in a gorilla suit during "lunch."  (I think they ate about 3 bites between them.)  Then we wandered around the little indoor village.  They saw a puppet show, played arcade games, and Rebecca was chosen to take a swing at not one, but two different pinatas.
After that adventure we said goodbye to our friends and caught one of the last tours of the day at Hammond's Candies.  The tour was well worth our time. Hammond's makes all their candy by hand and we watched hot gooey sugar turn into candy canes!  The kids watched with interest!  (They are eating free samples of peppermint candy in this photo, not frowning!)
It was really quite hot that afternoon, so instead of finding something to do outside we decided to drive the Lariat Loop in to the mountains.  (That website would have been great to see before our trip!  We were kind of flying blind and looking for tiny road signs!)

We had an exciting ride up in to the mountains and watched the elevation tick up on the GPS.  There were a lot of bicyclers shooting down the twisting road, which was scary to me!  But, the drive was beautiful.

We drove through a canyon on our way back to Denver and through some scenic little towns.

We went back to the 16th Street mall for supper and another free bus ride.  We went for a quick swim in the outdoor hotel pool that night.  It was a big deal for the kids and beautiful to be out under the stars.

Saturday we drove all the way home.  It was a long day of driving with very little to stop and see.  We wanted to play at a playground and have a nice supper, but after lunch there was nothing but road and bikers returning from the Sturgis rally.  We ended up eating supper at Al's Oasis (The first restaurant for the 100 miles we were on I-90!) for the 2nd time this summer and it was again a perfect choice.  Nice comfort food, room to move around a bit, and then just 3 hours home.

We drove by and waved to the Corn Palace and M2 was disappointed he wouldn't get to see the man dressed as corn!  But, that was our last detour and we motored the rest of the way home.

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