October 3 – October 6
With a fairly short drive to Denver on tap we decided to take the longer, more scenic route by driving over the Grand Mesa. First, we stopped at the Coffee Barn just before you hit Main Street to get a large Latte, providing fuel for the climb before us, starting up Grand Mesa Drive.
The last time we took this route in 2018 the rotor in our front left brake was slightly warped which made the descent on the other side of the Mesa down to I-70 fraught with anxiety as the front end shook and the brake starting smoking. We made it down though and had the rotor resurfaced when we returned to Charlotte.
With time on our hands we stopped for breakfast, an unusual treat for us as at home we usually cycle in the morning, and this precludes eating anything heavy. Based on positive reviews, we stopped in at Daily Bread in the historic center of town, parking for free a couple of blocks away.
It was crowded when we arrived, we’d caught the tail end of the Sunday morning rush, but we were quickly seated at the last table and ordered, for me the Omelet Florentine (sautéed fresh spinach, swiss cheese, mushrooms, onions, and tomatoes) and for Joanna the Polish Style Blintzes (three crepes filled with a smooth homemade cream cheese mixture and served with mixed berry topping).
We had to wait some time for the food given a backed-up kitchen but when it arrived it was well worth the wait, the ingredients in the omelet cooked perfectly, hot throughout just still tender and moist. Joanna’s blintzes, more like crepes, were filling in the best way, sweet but not too sweet.
We settled up and hit the highway heading east up and over the two passes, Loveland, at an elevation of 11,992 feet and Vail, at 10,666 feet and then rolled downhill to Denver and our night’s stay at the Drury Inn near the Tech Center in the suburb of Centennial, just off the I-25 about ten miles south of the center of town. We were spending the night here for two reasons, the first to split the long drive to Kansas City into two days and the second to see our longtime friend, Sal.
I worked with her during my first stint at UCLA when I was the assistant manager of an account’s payable unit, and she was either a student or had found the found job through other avenues. We became friends and saw her regularly until she moved back to her hometown of Denver years later. Her lifelong dream has been to sing professionally, laboring in local venues as she hopes for the break many artists seek. And she was glad for the winding down of Covid restrictions as it will allow her to re-enter the world of entertainment.
Sal would meet us at a restaurant she is familiar with, La Fogata about 20 minutes from the hotel. We arrived earlier than her which gave us a chance to get a head start on the large Margarita’s each of us had ordered. We perused the menu and by the time she arrived we were ready to order, this time splitting ( we were still kind of full after our monster breakfast) a two relleno platter, but instead of the two baked egg batter versions we crave (Roasted Anaheim chile, green chile, lettuce, and tomato) we ordered one of those and one referred to as a Crispy Relleno (Green chile, lettuce, and tomato) along with refried beans and rice.
It was an interesting contrast tasting the two but, in the end, I still prefer the former as it is what I’ve been eating for 50 years and consider it the standard. Sal filled us in on all that had transpired in her life since out last physical encounter (we spoke to her last year on the phone when the city had been put on lockdown), the time flew by and before we knew it, we were saying goodbye to each other.
The next day’s drive to Kansas City would be a long one and we’d lose an hour changing time zones, so we set pretty early. It’s a long straight partly downhill all the way and so wind aided as well, our gas mileage soared 2-3 mpg over the norm. Switching drivers halfway, we suffered through a Keystone Cops encounter in Hays, Kansas with construction and closed off roundabouts as we tried to get to a Schlotzsky’s, a chain we used to frequent at home but no longer serves the L.A. After a few wrong turns and growing frustration, we finally found where it was supposed to be next to a gas station, but unfortunately for us it was closed for good, just an empty storefront.
Not wanting to back under the interstate and repeat our experience with the maze, we opted to stop in at the only place on our side, a Wendy’s. I would occasionally visit the one in the student union at UNCC but not for their burgers (I love a good hamburger but tend to limit myself to one a month), but for their baked potato and a side of Chili. And that is what I would do here. Joanna opted for a special of the month, a Classic Big Bacon Chicken Sandwich, which included an interesting secret sauce that bedeviled us to determine what it was composed of, but it was actually quite tasty.
And just like that we were back on the highway soon to find ourselves pulling up in front of McKenzie and Dillon’s house, which they purchased earlier this year after announcing their engagement. Due to be married next May, they’ve got a big house to furnish and not much in it just yet. But enough to make for cozy seating and a fully equipped kitchen, which we made use of that night to handle the pizza we ordered to be delivered.
With Beverly arriving the next day we knew it would be a full one and Dillon needing to rise early for work, it didn’t take long to persuade us to hit the sack at our normal bedtime, early for many but not so for us. And the fun would really begin the next day.
The Coffee Barn: https://m.facebook.com/The-Coffee-Barn-700997713265819/
Daily Bread: https://dailybreadglenwood.business.site/
La Fogata: https://www.la-fogatadenver.com/