Fall Western States, Part Five

November 2 – 13, 20

After the Museum we dropped off Dillon at his and McKenzie’s apartment, a nice two bedroom in a cool area of downtown and returned to the Airbnb to rest up before heading out again to meet them at our choice for dinner that night, Brewery Emperial.  Seated outside underneath a canopy and with heat lamps to keep the temperature comfortable, we ordered a round of beers.

Brewery Emperial Patio

For me I started with the Belgian Stout, a 5.7% dark ale made with Chocolate Rye, Abbey Malt, Dark Wheat, Pilsner & roasted malts.  Joanna opted for the Comet IPA, a 5.9% brew using the “Comet” hop.  At only 20 IBU’s it was a decidedly mild IPA.  To eat we split the Tri-Tip Sandwich (House Smoked & Thinly sliced tri-tip beef, sauteed in beer sauce, grilled onions, provolone cheese and horseradish aioli) which was good, but not quite as outstanding as our Firestone Walker benchmark.  I’d finish with the Emperial IPA, an 8.7% ABV, 62 IBU version dry hopped with Amarillo.  At that ABV, I found it to my liking, the higher gravity smoothing out the hoppy bitterness one associates with an IPA. 

Tri-Tip Sandwich

The plan for Sunday would be an afternoon of football as Bev and Dillon are big Kansas City Chiefs fans (no surprise there) and so we convened at his apartment to watch the game.  The Chiefs would follow a familiar pattern for them, which is to start the game slowly and then gradually overpower their opponent with a potent offense. 

Kansas City Union Station

After the game we took advantage of clear skies to drive over to Kansas City’s Union Station, which Joanna and I had tried to visit in 2018 (https://3jmann.com/2018/11/23/west-coast-spring-2018-homeward-bound-part-one/).  Opened in 1914, this Beaux-Arts station replaced a small Union Depot from 1878 and served a peak annual traffic of more than 670,000 passengers in 1945, but quickly declined in the 1950s, and was closed in 1985.  The building encompasses 850,000 square feet, the ceiling in the Grand Hall is 95 feet high, there are three chandeliers weighing 3,500 pounds each, and the Grand Hall clock has a six-foot diameter face.

Union Station Interior

In 1996, a public–private partnership undertook a $250 million restoration and in 1999 it reopened as a series of museums and other public attractions.  The refurbished building hosts theaters, ongoing museum exhibits, and attractions such as the Science City at Union Station, the Irish Museum and Cultural Center, and the Todd Bolender Center for Dance and Creativity.  In 2002, Union Station saw its return as a train depot when Amtrak began providing public transportation services and has since become Missouri’s second-busiest terminal.

Dillon, Bev and Jerry

After checking out the one exhibit available for viewing, we left the station and drove up a nearby hill to Penn Valley Park and walk out to the National WWI Museum and Memorial.  Opened to the public as the Liberty Memorial museum in 1926, it was designated in 2004 by the United States Congress as America’s official museum dedicated to World War I.  

Liberty Memorial, flanked by Exhibition and Memory Halls and the unseeing sphinxes.
Beneath them sit the museum and research center

It tells the story of the Great War and related global events from their origins before 1914 through the 1918 armistice and 1919 Paris Peace Conference.  The memorial was closed in 1994 because aging had produced problems with drainage and the original construction and after a lengthy restoration process, it reopened in 2006 and that year was designated a National Historic Landmark. 

Union Station Skyline

As it was late in the day on a Sunday, and likely the museum wasn’t open due to Covid, we simply stood at the end of the parks mall and viewed the Kansas City skyline with Union Station as the centerpiece.  We returned to Dillon’s apartment where we played a couple of rousing games of cornhole in the complex’s common room, and then hung out until McKenzie arrived from work.  We said our farewells then and made our way back to the Airbnb to prepare for the next day’s drive to Denver. 

Sunset at Dillon’s Apartment

Having plied this route (I70 West) more times than we can recall, it was just another long day in the car, but not unmanageable.  We arrived late afternoon at our lodging for the night, the Best Western Plus Executive Residency Denver, conveniently located not far off the freeway.  We’d planned this stop to meet up with longtime friend Sal, who we’d not seen in many years but as with all things Covid, a curfew and lockdown imposed that day put the kibosh on meeting up.  So, we called and talked on the phone for more than an hour, getting caught up on all of the events of our lives and reliving fond memories. 

Kansas City to Denver

Hungry for some Italian besides pizza, we took a chance on ordering from an Olive Garden in the nearby Shops at Northfield Mall and were pleasantly surprised at how good it was, enjoying a Tour of Italy (Chicken Parmigiana, Lasagna Classico and Fettuccine Alfredo) combo which is accompanied by their signature green salad and breadsticks.  We’ve not eaten at an Olive Garden in over five years but found for under $20, it delivered well and was a good choice for a motel meal. 

Olive Garden Combo

Our drive the next day to Cedaredge at under five hours would normally be a walk in the park, but the snowstorm we’d followed into Denver made conditions heading over Loveland Pass not impossible, but certainly a bit more challenging than normal.  Our only real problem was that although I’d had the Highlander serviced in Denver, they’d neglected to refill our windshield washer fluid, which we discovered the second or third time we attempted to clean off the slushy grit the window consistently accumulated. 

Driving I70 Westward

We stopped at our first opportunity and bought a jug of cleaner taking care of the issue and then drove on, stopping once for gas and to get a donut fix (we’d what seemed like ages without one) before descending the western slope and finally arrive at Casa Griz for a nice three-night stay.  Cold temperatures and lockdown orders kept us from doing much more than sitting around and talking, but a group of good friends can easily make that an enjoyable experience. 

Denver to Cedaredge

We left for home taking two days to do so stopping overnight in La Verkin, just outside of St. George at the Best Western Zion West.  At just 20 miles from Zion National Park, it’s a convenient option for accessing the park when options in Springdale, the town closest to the park, are sold out.  Hoping to have a nice meal out to finish up the trip, we drove a short distance to nearby Hurricane to check out a couple of options, only to discover that they didn’t offer out-door dining and conditions indoors were crowded way past safe.

Cedaredge to St. George

And so, we turned to the path of least resistance and had a fine dining experience at the town’s Taco Bell.  The drive home went smoothly, so much less traffic on the road with the pandemic and our final dining experience was at the In-N-Out in Barstow, a comforting reminder of how many times we’ve marked this location, and others particularly along I-5, as signposts towards our destination.  And it also sums up travel under Covid, where dining generally means take-out, fast food, and picnics.  As we all long for the day when we can enjoy a meal indoors, with white tablecloths and an attentive server guiding us on a culinary journey that will provide fuel for memories to recall.  But that is a post for another day, and it will come before we know it. 

St. George to Home


Brewery Emperial: https://www.breweryemperial.com/

K.C. Union Station: https://www.unionstation.org/

National WWI Museum and Memorial: https://www.theworldwar.org/

BW Plus Executive Residency Denver: https://www.bestwestern.com/en_US/book/hotels-in-denver/best-western-plus-executive-residency-denver-central-park-hotel/propertyCode.06194.html

Olive Garden: https://www.olivegarden.com/locations/co/denver/denver-the-shops-at-northfield/1727

Best Western Zion West: https://www.bestwestern.com/en_US/book/hotels-in-la-verkin/best-western-plus-zion-west-hotel/propertyCode.45090.html

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