On the way out of Utah, we spotted a sign for In-N-Out Burger in the distance. Because of the restaurant’s almost mythical hype from Californian friends, we figured this would give us a great chance to finally try one.
“Two double-double cheeseburgers, an order of fries, and a vanilla shake.” The woman taking the order was just as chipper as the guy we had encountered in Twin Falls’ Chick-Fil-A. She told me, “I’ll bring that right out”, and I initially thought of it as a car-hopping place like Culver’s, so I pulled forward to find a parking spot. Sarah yelled at me, “Hey! What about the food!” I had to back up quickly, just before the lady started thinking I was nuts, but it turned out okay. We got the burgers.
We parked and ate at one of the nearby picnic tables, chatting and listening to seagulls fly overhead. It was definitely better than a typical fast food burger; a lot fresher, with more high-quality ingredients. Really just a good old-fashioned burger. And look: they are NOT smashed!
An odd thing about Salt Lake City is the fact that the highways seem to be built so that the landmark from which the city derives its very name – the Salt Lake – is always just beyond one’s view. Those who constructed the roads thought of everything possible to obstruct the view at every single turn. Once you think you’re about to catch a great glimpse of the lake, it’s suddenly blocked by another extremely high road barrier. This led both of us to conclude that the Great Salt Lake is really nothing to get too excited about. To borrow some words from Karl Pilkington, it’s just the Alright Salt Lake.
At this point in such a long journey, we just didn’t feel like pushing ourselves to drive all the way to Colorado Springs that night, so we made a stop in Grand Junction.
The motel we booked, the Columbine, had high ratings for being clean. As we started getting closer to the motel, though, we were both feeling a little more worried as the nicer parts of town started falling behind and the more run-down parts were in front of us. We kept hoping that suddenly, we would find ourselves in some secret pocket of town with unexpectedly nice looking buildings. No luck. Nestled alongside all the other older strip motel accommodations was the Columbine Motel.
Mostly because of its age, the Columbine wasn’t pretty to look at from the outside, so we were bracing ourselves for a refusal of the room if need be. Still, I made Sarah promise to at least take a look at the room before we thought of searching for a new place.
We picked up a key, walked along the parking lot to a room down at the end, and opened the door: Holy cow! This place was spotless and completely decked out.
We ordered pizza in and spent a good, long night watching some TV for the first time on the entire trip. We don’t have a cable subscription at home, but seeing a few broadcast shows didn’t make us miss it. There’s still nothing good on!
We slept in a bit the next morning and, after a quick breakfast, we were back onto the highway heading home.
On the way out, it was the Eisenhower Tunnel that we’d passed through, but going this direction, it was the Johnson Tunnel. For some reason, everyone that morning decided to drive like a crazy person and the descent out of the tunnel was a bit tense. Steep downgrades and bad drivers make for a terrible combination. Alas: we survived the Tunnel of Doom and the steep mountainside of terror. Our reward was some much-needed coffee! Sadly, there were no cute roadside coffee stands, because we were not in Oregon anymore.
Georgetown was on our route home, so we thought it would be fun to get lunch there and browse around for antiques. It was either International Unfriendly Day or the shopkeepers of Georgetown didn’t like the look of us. It might have just been a fluke if we only encountered two unfriendly shopkeepers, but we met four grumpy merchants and walked out of a restaurant after being ignored. The waitress was too busy watching her wonderful TV to seat us. But that’s okay; the prices on their menu were far too overpriced!
Just a little further down the highway is Idaho Springs. There, we actually did encounter friendly people and lots of quirky shops. If you ever find yourself tooling through the mountains, be sure to stop in Idaho Springs for some shopping and lunch at Two Brothers Deli. From the free parking lot nearby, too, you get a great view of the waterfall. The town was bustling with people while we were there, which is always a good sign.
We were considerably hungry, so we just based our choice off of the smell drifting from this particular deli. Our nostrils did not betray us; Two Brothers is a fantastic deli! The staff was friendly and the restaurant had a sunny ambiance. They must be popular, because as soon as we placed our order, a large crowd of people flooded the place and there was a line to the door.
We each ordered their sandwich “The Many Ways to Reuben” with a different meat and bread choice, one with corned beef and the other with pastrami. Then sides of slaw with pickle spears. The Reubens were each topped with Swiss cheese, housemade sauerkraut, and a sun-dried tomato Russian dressing.
We still had just enough time to check out Idaho Springs Treasures. Don’t miss this shop! The place was filled with an array of antiques, mineral samples, and glassware; enough things to keep anyone rooting around for quite awhile. The proprietor is a full-fledged mountain man gold panner, full grizzly beard and all. He was friendly, as was the woman running the place with him. And we didn’t leave the shop empty-handed either. With the ocean still on her mind, Sarah was thrilled to find a bottle of sperm whale sewing machine oil and a 1940’s mini souvenir flip book from the Sea Lion Caves in Oregon. Reluctantly, I had to pull Sarah away so we could get back on the road, but I promised that we would take a day trip back to Idaho Springs.
We took the scenic country route along Highway 85 to avoid the main highway’s rush hour traffic. Just little towns, farms, and some cows grazing.
After eleven days away, we were home at last. We left our car in the garage a little reluctantly, as there was something sad about not having another destination to drive to the next morning. Of course, we were looking forward to our own bed and bathroom, but we were both secretly ready to start planning our next adventure.