Epic Poem - Colorado Road Trip, July/August 2010

We got up in the morning most everything packed
Mark worked half the day, the luggage was stacked
We jumped in the car all full of momentum
The first day would be easy, a quick jump to Elgin.
At least that’s what we thought until the sky opened up
Somewhere by Battle Creek the clouds took a dump.
It rained and it cleared, 3 or 4 times
It stopped and it started, no reason, no rhyme.
Before the Indiana border the sky finally cleared
Glad to have it behind us, the weather was weird.
We hit the Illinois border and the traffic slowed down
Chicago is a parking lot, a fast-slow moving town.
We made it to Karen’s, to Dave’s, and to Dylan’s
Glad to arrive, hang out and start chillin’.
Their friend Susie was there, too, more people more fun
We enjoyed a nice evening, then down went the sun.

An early morning start for the drive would be long
11 hours to get to where we belong.
The drive started easy, just getting to the highway
Can someone tell me what a “Threshing Bee” is by the way?
It started in Illinois and just never ended
Corn fields on corn fields, the view was extended.
To get to Iowa we crossed the Mississippi
How many wind farms could we see?
We were happy when we saw them for without their giant forms
There was nothing to break up the view of oceans of corn
We passed the “World’s Largest Truckstop”
At Kum & Go Gas we didn’t stop
Drove by a sign for John Wayne’s place of birth
Didn’t see one for James T. Kirk!
Finally hit Nebraska and shouted Hallellujah!
Iowa scenery was beautiful but never varied so we felt blah!
Stopped to stretch and eat some ice cream at a local Baskin Robbin
Only 24 flavors, we were too amused to be sobbing.
Through the state we drove until we reached our North Platte hotel
Didn’t know Howard Johnson’s still existed so we thought it would be swell.
The clerk who checked us in was very nice but pretty clueless
But the bed was comfortable and the motel wasn’t pool-less.

In the morning we ate breakfast and packed up to hit the road
Stopped to see a tourist trap and buy Mark a hat that’s rather bold.
Got to Colorado didn’t see a mountain for a while
But knew they would be coming up before too many miles.
Stopped for a great lunch at a little place we ran across
Had burgers and drinks and ambiance without which we'd be lost
Finally drove into Denver and it's quite a sight for eyes
The mountains getting bigger as we drove into the sky
Up and up we kept on going and the mountains kept expanding
They couldn't have made it more beautiful with centuries in the planning.
Now I think I should take a moment to thank the wonderful Chip and Nancy
Without whose gracious offer this trip would be beyond our fancy
Their lovely home in Leadville they offered us to use
We hope to find a way to thank them, their generosity will be our muse.
Found the house in Leadville, it's as cute as it could be
We settle in and get comfortable for the moment before we flee.

Woke early Saturday morning, plenty of time to pack the car
And drive to Denver Airport, it was actually pretty far
Got there timely, car unloaded, shuttle to the airport
Everything went fine, nothing seemed out of sorts.
Grabbed lunch and went to our gate, everything was on time
Just hung out with the others, not even in line
Then the board changed to a message that our flight would be detained
This came out of nowhere, 1 hours wait. How very strange.
Too soon the message changed and extended 2 hours more
The plane was in the hangar, was all the story they had in store.
Evan made friends in the airport one girl with a dsi another with a laptop
Eric was a terrific traveler, his patience and smile had no stop
Would rather fly in a fixed plane, than one that might need glue.
A minor repair it was, but it took them time to do
So we waited and we joked and we stressed and we waited
And we waited and we waited, until the plane finally gated.
The flight was uneventful, we got free tv for our 3 hours wait
We felt bad for the people who missed connecting flights and gates
The flight was 3 episodes of "Mythbusters" long, I know because I watched it
And finally we were in Seattle, the place that was our target.
"Hello Seattle" was in our heads and MP3 players as the plane touched ground
We here, maybe not timley, but definitely safe and sound.
Got our luggage, got our car, easily found the hotel too
Went out to find our cousins, eat some dinner, get a clue.
Pegasus for pizza, right beside Puget Sound we were
Yummy dinner, terrific view, what a place for sure.
Great to see the cousins, it had been a very long time
Lauren, Masao, Steve, and Mimi and they all looked very fine.
After dinner we walked around on the beach skipping stones on the water
When we could, that was, though of us all Masao was better.
Watched a beautiful sunset from the shore, the view, the colors were sure the best
Then we headed back to our hotel to have a rest.

Woke on Sunday morning to take a hotel swim
It is one of the best hotel pools we've ever been in.
The area was large and open, the pool was warm, big, and inviting
It was tempting to stay all day, but Seattle is too exciting.
Back to Puget Sound we went to see it in the day
Had a lovely breakfast and then went outside to play
Rented a double surry, also called a quadricycle
And went on a two hour tour from the vantage of this odd cycle.
But time was reached we needed to head back to get ready for Lane and Michael's wedding
The guys chilled out while mark and I did our getting ready-ing.
Met at the parking lot of the wedding hall gave to the cousins our boys
(Not sure which regarded the other as some funky new toys)
They went off to the zoo to see the animals and such
Get to know each other a little bit, since the time was not too much
The wedding was lovely. It was definitely Michael and Lane's
They are a beautiful happy couple was the continual refrain.
With harmonicas and mustaches we celebrated for quite a while
Then the cousins returned the boys and we left the party in style.
While I didn't write a lot, it was still a busy day
So we then went off to bed and that is all that I will say.

Monday morning came and the E-team and I went swimming
Mark slept in later and we came out winning.
Packed up the room and grabbed all our stuff for a little more time in Seattle
Talked to Lauren so we could meet up once more because distance makes that a battle.
To Pike Market we went to eat and walk around
Spend a little more time together and enjoy more Puget Sound.
Saw some fun musicians and ate a lovely Mexican lunch
Went walking in the sunshine and then we had a hunch
Lauren had to leave and do the things she had to do
The boys had already enjoyed a trip to the local zoo
But when we passed by the Aquarium Eric said this was the place
So the four of us bought tickets and enjoyed seeing waterlife at our own pace.
We got to touch anemonies and star fish and it was really pretty cool
They were different than we expected so we learned stuff at their pool.
We wandered back to the airport, stopping for a quick bite
Jack in the Box so it seemed just right.
It's an eclectic menu and the food is what you'd expect
But Evan had seen a commercial so they wanted to stop there you can bet.
I'm not sure what the deal is with Frontier Airlines
They can't seem to get a plane to take off on time.
But once your on board the service is great
And with free TV both ways, Evan and Eric think they really rate.
We were late to land and much later to the Leadville home and beds
We were dreaming in no time and nothing more to be said.

Every morning we get up and do a little bit of stretching
Then we walk or we run with a minimum of kvetching.
It's not until we're done that we really begin our day
It's so beautiful here that we wish we could stay.
Tuesday through Thursday were spent hanging out
Learning the town, walking about
Family movie nights were had and we played video games
It was all quite different and yet all quite the same
We did grocery shopping and met local storekeeps
Got used to thin air, and caught up on sleep
The cookie shop owner had from Mt. Clemons arrived
We talked about baking way up in the sky
Her cookies were amazing and the fudge was divine
I hope I have enough time for every flavor trying.
There's lots of fly fishing though we've only done reel
Leadville's a very friendly town with a nice easy feel.
We ended Thursday with a Pizza Hut dinner
The stuffed crust pizza is really a winner.
We woke up on Friday same as before
But today is the day we start taking a tour
Evan, Riley, and I went to the Leadville Train
To ride up through the mountain and then back down again
Much to our surprise, as these things happen
The conductor was from Grand Blanc back in Michigan
It's more beautiful here, the more that you see
It's amazing how cold 1000 more feet up can be
At the resting point halfway through the ride
Chunks of hail came down from the sky
We were safe in the train and it wasn't an issue
And it added to our adventure, Hail in August, that's new!
When we arrived back at the station
Mark was waiting to be part of vacation
We walked back into town for Boom Days starts today
It's a party, it's a fair, it's a fun place to play
We walked around a while, saw some of the setup
Visited some vendors and bought an awesome new hammock
Can't wait for the morning parade and a new day to start
Back home for dinner and bed, much happiness in the heart

The weekend came soon and we Saturday awoke
To go to the parade, of which our friends had spoke
It seemed pretty endless and through candy and stuff
The boys pockets were filled but they still couldn't get enough!
In the afternoon was the kids events at the high school field
A sack race, an obstacle course, and a sand pit with a money yield
They did the competitions by ages so each had a chance in their race
Evan showed what he's made of and came in second place.
They each ended up with about a dollar which quickly was spent
But a dollar for free is a free gift that was sent
Down to Frisco for dinner to try something new
We drove until we found an enticing Q4U.
The food was really good, it was a little local place
The kind we like to find for a change of pace
Then we drove back up to Leadville though we missed our main exit
And ended up misplaced, adding an hour to our trip
We got to see tremendous views we never else would have seen
But some of the roads we went on made my knuckles white and my face green.
While traveling on this road, my 'check engine' light did turn bright red
Rather an area for concern, I'm sure you'd guess if I'd not said.
The car was driving fine and to the house we eventually got
But our road trip for the morrow fell victim to the lit red spot.
Not a problem, not a worry, just a slight change of plans
Plenty good to do in town and on Monday will see the mechanic man.

Sunday morning we arose and had a gentle start to our day
Then we wandered into town to see the Burro's come our way
We waited for a while and then 2 ladies with Burro's came charging in
The burro's were faster than we thought, and we witnessed our first Burro win.
Now we decided to go fishing and the beautiful Turquoise Lake
Got our licenses and our worms and the snacks we thought we'd take
Saw the lake from way up the mountain but couldn't find the route to get down
Had to stop a passing cyclist to find the way to 'fishing town'.
Finally found the water and started to unload the car
And that is when we realized that without poles it would be hard
For our poles were back at the house waiting expectantly against the wall
So our fishing trip was short and the "Fish are safe" we called.
Talked to the manager at the camping site to find a good fishing spot for next time
Turned out he was from Grand Rapids, apparently Michiganders like Leadville just fine.
Got the lowdown on the favorite spots of the locals that they don't share
We'd tell you but you know we can't, we had to pinky swear.
The boys got their favorite dinner event, pizza and video games
While Mark and I went to Quincys where everyone has the same
I guess when you do something really well you don't have to do anything else
We definitely agreed their food was first rate in taste and in the smells
The end of a lovely day, though not at all what we had mapped out
But planning is just a starting point and life happens, so enjoy it don't pout!

Monday morning found me on the way to Bart's Mechanical Shop
Find out why the red engine light was on, and fix it so that it would stop
I needed an oil change anyway and a good time to check the fluids too
So that was done too and in no time at all the answer to the question was knew.
It seemed that my engine had altitude questions, and was letting me know that it did
But nothing needed doing and the all's working fine so it's good that the problem wasn't hid.
Now we are back up to good and ready for adventure whereever it happens to find us
But the clouds hung too low so our refrain yet again is that today is safe for the fishes.

On Tuesday we finally got back out to the the lake
This time our fishing rods we remembered to take
The worms had survived 2 long days in the fridge
We went for a drive over hills and mountain ridge
We found the spot that had come quietly recommended
And cast our lines to find the fishes well defended
It was so beautiful there that we almost didn't mind
That the fish only ate the worms off the line
Finally when it seemed that no fish would come out
Riley caught our only fish, a beautiful brook trout
We went to celebrate but Wild Bills was already closed
So elsewhere for dinner and ice cream we proposed
Chinese food at Szechuan Taste II we did find
The boys loved there soup and the tastes were just fine.
D'love Gourmet Coffee & Ice Cream Shop had yummy ice cream
So we got some dessert, YAY for the team.
Wednesday was slow and easy so we chilled
We walked into town, just slightly up the hill
To Fire on the Mountain to paint pottery
Evan did 2 pieces, Riley did 3.
We thought we would give Wild Bill's another try
Yet again they closed early, but we wouldn't cry
Found another place that came recommended high
We waited for our food for an hour then had to say 'goodbye'
Which was definitely the best thing that happened that to us
High Mountain Pies Pizza was easy, no fuss.
We were welcomed like friends when we walked in the door
They gave the boys dough so they wouldn't get bored
The people were friendly, the pizza was out-of-sight
As Evan declared, it was "Love at first bite!"
It saved a night that had gone quite awry
Because of great people and amazing pizza pie
Thursday we arose to grey skies and rain
For the first time since we got here, and a bit of a pain
Almost everyday it rains, just a little in the afternoon
But there are such beautiful rainbows that all seems in tune
Today was the day we were going to go Rafting on White water
But the sky was overcast so we weren't sure if we oughta.
But we called down to the outpost and the trip was still on
So we got our stuff together and from the house we were gone.
Got down to the outpost and the sun was shining bright
We were excited because this trip was going so right
And as these things happen, because of course you know they do
Our guide Roger was originally from Michigan, too.
Down the Arkansa River Class 3 rapids we rode
Roger made it easy and we did what we were told.
I can't say enough that he was terrific and the ride was great
And we got home tired and did not stay up late.

Friday in Leadville was a very busy day
Rocky Mountain Bicycle Festival and Leadville Trail 100 brought people in to play
It's also time for us to start to wrap up a lovely trip
Time to start to clean and pack up, back to regular life, get a grip
Wandering through town, saying goodbye to our favorite places
Getting candy from Hundley's just in case
Fudge for the road and one more pizza for our bellys too
No other place is quite like these in high altitude.
We've never been to any place like Leadville in our life
Every direction you look is a picture postcard quality sight
The National Mining Museum and Hall of Fame is a worthy site to visit
So many things come from mining that it is worthwhile to see and appreciate it
It is difficult to start to say goodbye to a lovely vacation time
Our time here is drawing to an end but not my long winded rhyme.

Saturday we finish cleaning and load everything into the car
Start to drive a sightseeing trip home, our route will take us far
Driving down the mountain towards Denver with our ears popping
We know this drive will be quite long because we will do a lot of stopping
We enjoy the scenery of Colorado and make our way up to Wyoming
Quite a beautiful place to drive, which was good because we were roaming
Stopped at the Chugwater Soda Fountain, the oldest in the state
They had old fashioned equipment so we had old fashioned milk shakes
Wyoming is beautiful, from the clear skies to the buttes of red
"Wyoming, now with more red than ever" with a smirk is what Evan said.
As the day was starting to draw closer to the night
We found ourselves in South Dakota, another place with beautiful sights.
We entered into the Black Hills almost as soon as we hit the border
And it couldn't have been more breathtaking if it had been made to order.
As I looked up at the mountains that surrounded on all sides far and near
I realized that Mt. Rushmore could have only happened here
The high flat sides that faced us were like none we had ever seen
We didn't need to add to change to make this place unbelievably keen.
As beautiful as it was, it was late and time to rest
So we quickly found a place near and that made it the best.
Sunday woke another day to pile inside the car
And drive to see Mount Rushmore, since we had already come this far.
The drive there was quite easy, we weren't very far away
As we got near the park entrance we found a tourist trap in our way.
The shops and trappings ended as we started up the slope
And found the natural beauty, it was all beyond we'd hoped.
We saw the carvings from the car as we drove up to the pavilion
To see with our very own eyes what had already been seen by untold millions.
The kids were looking in much awe, and so were the adults
To think of all the work involved to come up with such heady results.
But the only way to get home meant we had to get back in the car
To get to Montana we had to pass back through Wyoming which meant this day we would travel far.
Not a lot a to do, not many places to stop at
So we just kept on driving and the car was where we sat.
After Monanta was North Dakota where we chose not to yield
To the large heavy bugs that kept diving into our getting dirty windshield
They made loud noises as they tried to attack us off the road
But as big as they are my mini van was bigger, I wish they had been told
We were lucky at the sign as we stopped we were able to arrange
Some friendly bikers take the shot so all 4 are in it for a change.
If you can guess, Minnesota was next, if you can't then look at a map
If you can't just imagine that we had to go through an unidentified gap!
As you can imagine, that would be silly, so of course Minnesota was there
It was an easy drive through a lovely state so we drove without a care.
Stopped for at Pizza Ranch for an awesome lunch it's true
In case you had wondered where pizza came from, they aren't really being wrangled, but you knew!
To Wisconsin we went, a particular way, to we could visit the Scherrers
We knocked on the door and they let us in, showing very little fear.
Had a lovely night in a new state with our friends knowing we were soon heading home
But on such a lovely trip as this it encourages us to go roam.
This is a beautiful country we have, the states have their own personalities
That I guess comes from the differences there of the climates and their histories.
We are already thinking of next year's trip, where we will go to see some more states
And each one makes it worth the journey, seeing the country this way is great.
With an early start we began the drive home, knowing we would sleep in our own beds that night
But first we hit Illinois, and each step home felt quite all right.
After Illinois was Indiana, a short drive through was all it took
For our thoughts were all on home at this point, we would get there by hook or by crook.

Eventually, quite late on Tuesday, we finally arrived to our abode
We thought of our beds and did our best for a quick necessity unload
It's good to travel, it's great to see sites, and even better to visit some friends
Vacation is wonderful but it also is nice when the traveling is at an end.

special thanks to Mark, Evan, & Eric (Riley) for ideas and helping me edit as we go along

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"All poetry on these pages Copyright 2004-2010 by Marci Grossman"