On-the-road, unexpected attractions make a trip truly memorable.
Ruth & I were in unseasonal rain all the way through Salt Lake City and beyond. We saw accidents and heard on the radio that an entire section of the downtown Interstate system was closed. We really needed a break and got off at an anonymous exit because it promised a Starbucks. We couldn’t find Starbucks. However, we made a wrong turn into a shopping center and there it was–an unanticipated IN-N-OUT.
We found the restaurant, Bistro Italiano in downtown Grand Junction, Colorado, where we had dined so happily last year and had a great meal. While I waited for the check, Ruth disappeared. I found her in the front talking to the owner. Bistro Italiano made its own pasta. I had some for dinner. Bistro Italiano sold its own pasta. Ruth picked out 4. We learned that homemade angel hair can travel great distances and we’re having #3 tonight.
Highway 412 west of Enid, Oklahoma, was marked as scenic. We weren’t sure why until we discovered Gloss Mountain State Park on an uncharacteristically cool, cloudy afternoon in August. Known as both the Glass and Gloss Mountains, these mesas of the Blaine Escarpment were once hunting grounds for Apaches and Comanches. Herds of American bison loved its prairie grass. Daniel Boone’s son Nathan passed through in 1843. This was 22 years after Thomas James, searching for a trade route to Santa Fe, called this area the shining mountains because transparent gypsum crystals scattered on its slopes shimmered in sunlight like glass. In a drafting error, someone in the U.S. General Land Office called them the Gloss Mountains on a map.
Cheyenne’s Plains Hotel was wonderful. Across the street from it was another genuine throwback, a downtown movie theater called The Lincoln. John Ford’s western Cheyenne Autumn had its world premier there. Inside Out was on that evening. Ruth and I had been hoping to see it.
I don’t usually find historical markers along highways all that interesting. However, near the town of Daniel in Wyoming I found an exception. No one was in sight on any ranch as Ruth & I pulled over to read about THE PRAIRIE OF THE MASS. The sign noted that Jesuit Pierre DeSmet, who crossed the Atlantic Ocean 19 times and traveled 180,000 miles, celebrated the first mass in Wyoming here on an altar of native stone decorated with wild flowers in 1840 with 2,000 Native Americans in attendance. They called DeSmet “the Sincerest Friend”.
It was too smoky in Idaho to take a scenic route. Sorry about the havoc that forest fires were causing, we changed our plans and ended up on a tour of EBR-1 . Now a museum, in 1951 this power plant was the first in the world to light a community, Arco, with atomic energy. The experience was both unexpected and fascinating.