Waking up to a very cool morning in Montana with frost on the windshield, we knew we had a long drive towards Denver. We headed down through Idaho and into Wyoming and up and over the very steep pass into the ski resort town of Jackson Hole. As we were on our way down the pass the air conditioning stopped working and we noticed a smell like something was burning. We limped into the airport rental car lot for Enterprise and walked inside. It was a beautiful little airport where the rich and famous fly in to ski. It took forever to get another rental car but not much hassle. I love Enterprise. I have used them almost exclusively for years and they always provide us with good service, nice cars and not too bad of a rate. My rabid readers will remember our Rock n Roller 16 tour when we rented a truck in Denver and drove all the way to Maine, then on to Texas and back up to Denver–a whopping 7,000 miles for just 850 bucks.
We headed into town and looked for a place to eat. We settled on a little cowboy themed bar that was located around the town square. If you have ever been to Jackson you will know they have this huge arch made out of elk antlers that is now a go-to selfie spot. We haven’t been to this neck of the woods for more than 15 years when we were up this way for a sled dog race in West Yellowstone. The little bar/restaurant was really cool inside and we each had a burger and Michele had a stiff drink. None for me, I still had 7 hours or more of driving. We walked around the little shops in town and bought a couple t-shirts before jumping back into the car to head toward Rock Springs.
In Rock Springs…oh do I have stories from my youth about this little place…we grabbed gas and took a turn that would change the course of the trip. Within a few miles we were off the highway and on a dirt road for the next hundred plus miles. It was honest-to-goodness scary. I am a Stephen King fan and I have read enough stories about what happens on roads like this. You know what I mean, “you gotta purty mouth” type place. If you haven’t read the King story, Big Driver, you should.
Anyway, at some point I woke Michele up from her slumber, again, and told her to stay awake until we get back on a “normal road”. Why? I don’t know, I guess so she can witness our own kidnapping or at the very least a breakdown in a front-wheel-drive rental car on a potholed road that felt like you were driving over a cheese grater. We literally did not see a single person for hours on that road. It was absolutely beautiful though with all the red-stone mountains as the sun set.
After about three hours of white knuckling we finally hit pavement again and arrived in the little town of Craig, Colorado. I have only been here one time. It was years ago when I drove all the way up here from our place in Bailey with a pack of sled dogs to get neutered by an old country vet that knew a thing or two about mushin’. I actually got to help him with the surgeries that we performed in his kitchen.
We grabbed gas, looked for a place to eat and passed on the fast food. The next couple hours were in the dark on the winding roads through the mountains. Our goal was to make it most of the way to Denver but it was getting late and we didn’t have a room for the night. Michele, being my awesome co-pilot and navigator jumped on our favorite app, Booking.com and found us an inexpensive room in Rifle right along the interstate.
It was almost 11 pm when we pulled into Sonic. The local kids were hanging out doing what teenagers do–that delicate dance of I hope you like me, but I am too shy or insecure to tell you to your face. They were all wearing their hats with that little bit of hair sticking out the front on purpose, skinny jeans, and all had iPhones that they probably didn’t have to work for to pay the bill. We people watched while we munched on our burgers and were back at the room and asleep before midnight.
Tomorrow we would drive six or so hours to Denver with a stop that was supposed to be a highlight of this years coaster tour but it wouldn’t come to be. Stay tuned…
Up Next: Lakeside and Elitch Gardens
Coasters to date on the tour: 28
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