Today is our journey to St. Louis for BBQ. Waking in the morning on our road trip there is a fresh coat of spring snow and 27 degrees in Eagle River Colorado. The morning birds are still happy and enjoying a little winter fun. Cherie and I get ready for the day and make our plans for the shortage from the snow closing I-70 in the Colorado Rockies.
Vail Colorado Road Trip
This was a real eye-opener in the morning. We had planned to try to go up further north towards Yellowstone, but as the week got closer the weather indicated snow. It has been a beautiful journey so far. We get ready for the day. Grateful for Burt's Bees Foot Creme, Coconut this is perfect for my feet to stay soft and non-drying. We are looking forward to some Medical Ball Tea at Starbucks for our drive to Vail and Denver.
The snow is slowly melting and roads are clearing up. The traffic is heavy as drivers try to get to their destination after an overnight road closure (thank you Expedia for all your assistance with the many reservations changes) We get to Vail Colorado just in time to hear the melting snow, capture a few photos, and watch as skiers get ready for a day of skiing.
The town brings a sense of a European Mountain town. The town was explored by Irishman George Gore, known as Lord Gore, and American frontiersman Jim Bridger was among the first explorers to venture into the mountainous region. There are little shops, skiing, and wonderful architecture. Many buildings have high A-frame roofs and beautifully set into the landscape of the Rocky Mountains.
The town is perfect for winter sports and fun, but spring and summer are wonderful for travel. Vail Colorado offers:
Vail Recreation Path
Piney River Trail
Minute Mile Trail
Betty Ford Alpine Gardens
Continental Divide Journey
We head down the highway to one of the most impressive engineering creation Eisenhower Tunnel. This tunnel is 1.7 miles going under Continental Divide in the Rocky Mountains. This tunnel is staffed with employees monitoring carbon levels and traffic. They walk the sidewalks inside, there are fire exits in the tunnel, and old booths where employees sat to watch traffic. The tunnel has a downgrade from the 11,000' elevation. This section of I-70 through the Rocky Mountains is a wonderful journey of beauty and engineering.
Entering Denver, you quickly realize that the Rocky Mountains are behind the city to the West. Everything to the East is flat and you can see for miles. We stop for lunch at Zeppelin Station. This is a great place with a vast variety of healthy restaurants and a local bar. Many locals gather here on Saturday afternoon to share stories and enjoy a great meal.
Aloha Poké Co. provides a light refreshing meal with a wide choice of vegetables and rice. Perfect for this long day of road travel. Cherie and I sit outside enjoying lunch in the spring sun and looking back at the Rocky Mountains thinking a strong contrast from the last two days to the journey that lays in front of us.
Heading back on our journey again the landscape becomes flat and almost desolate. It seems at times there is nothing but land here. The road seems to go forever and the earth seems flat. The journey begins to become endless. We begin counting water towers for entertainment. We counted 68 total from Kansas to Champaign IL. I am sure we missed a few here and there.
Rolling into Kansas City, MO. the city is beautiful. This is not on our scheduled stops, but one to return to for visiting. We see our first baseball stadium, The Kansas City Royals. We make our way into Independence MO. Our ancestors were members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We stopped by the Independence Visitors Center.
This center represents a time in the lives of the members of loss and contention with the government. They built homes and had plans for a temple for worship. The Saints entered the area in 1831 and by 1833 twelve hundred members in the area. This was a slave state and members did not support slavery. The voting power became a concern. The members were driven out of Independence in December 1833. The area is strong in religions started in the 1800s in the USA. The Community of Christ has a temple across the street. It is a great place to explore early American religion. As we make our way towards St. Louis there is a strong religious influence seen alone the freeway.
St. Louis City is a place that Cherie is excited to stop and explore. The first place we stop of course is the baseball stadium for the St. Louis Cardinals. It is a great place to explore the team and history. There are statues outside representing the best ballplayers. Looking behind the stadium, you see the Gateway Arch. This is the gateway to the West designed by architect Eero Saarinen. The St. Louis arch is the tallest arch in the western world. There are great things to do in St. Louis including:
Private beer lovers tour
Augusta wine tour
Lewis and Clark historic tour
Get a one-day adventure pass for admission to
Stingrays at Caribbean Cove and Sea Lion Show
St. Louis is known for its arch and barbecue. This being a late Sunday afternoon we realize that many locations are not open, but find one near the ball field, SugarFire SmokeHouse BBQ! This is an award-winning restaurant under Chef Mike Johnson has studied with Myron Mixon, cooked under Emeril Lagasse and Charlie Trotter. It was a great experience of community, exceptional food (sweet potatoes the best) and BBQ pork and salmon. It was a great meal for the remaining day's journey to Champaign IL. We finally make it across the Mississippi River and enter Illinois.
[Submitted by Tammy Forchion]