As I write this, we're sitting on the train making our way from Salt Lake City to Denver. We're currently going through Winter Park, Colorado. I learned to ski at age nine in this town. I feel like I should stop by and apologize to the random strangers I plowed into on the slope. Let's just say the orange "Ski School" vest they made me wear was highly necessary.
There are so many stories to tell from this last round of the trip. Let's start with Salt Lake City:
Salt Lake City
As I mentioned on the last post, we got into town at 3:30a.m. on Tuesday morning. We headed to the Hampton Inn, slept til 9:00a.m and then went out to explore the city. We didn't have anything specific planned. We knew it was the kind of town made for the outdoorsy type and if you know any of us you probably wouldn't describe us as outdoorsy. We DO love a good hike, but considering we only had 24 hours in the city, we left that out of the schedule.
We found a good restaurant for lunch and immediately ordered salads. After train food (which isn't awful, but isn't ... you know ... amazing) we wanted something green that didn't come from a microwaved package or could be found in a gas station.
After lunch, we made our way to Temple Square, the headquarters for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. We found the grounds, architecture, and scenery to be beautiful-- in fact the whole city was very clean and very beautiful and the people we met could not have been nicer. We walked through the tabernacle, went to the viewing deck on the 26th floor of their offices, and then walked through the nearby City Creek Mall.
This brings me to my favorite part of Salt Lake City: We were pretty wiped from being up at weird hours the night before and getting very little sleep. We also realized that after walking around in the 99 degree weather all day we were DONE. We resorted to our normal Monday activity of watching the Bachelorette. We ordered pizza, put on pjs, watched the show, and went to bed early. No regrets, people. No regrets.
Train Ride #2
Our alarms went off at 2:15a.m. We all asked each other if anyone had gotten any sleep. The answer: "I'm not even sure."
We loaded up our sleepy selves and headed to the station. We were pretty excited to get back on the train. We realized how much we missed our train people. I told the others that the train feels like summer camp. Everyone's stuck in one location and at times gathered around the same table eating or playing cards. You're not going anywhere for a long time, so you might as well get to know your train mates. If this was 1995 I may even walk away with a pen pal.
We learned pretty quickly on train ride 2 that we were spoiled from our first ride. We had plenty of room to spread out on ride 1, but this wasn't the case for this leg of the trip. Caroline and I were assigned a row together and Richards ended up with a seat to herself (but only for a little while). We napped from 3:30a.m until 6:30a.m and watched the sunrise over Utah.
At 7:00a.m we headed to Waffle House (the dining car) for coffee, eggs, and biscuits. Again, it wasn't terrible, but wasn't awesome. This is also where we can introduce another character: Breakfast Bill.
As mentioned previously, we are given a table to sit at in the dining car and every table must be filled. Because we're a party of 3 and the table holds 4, we're assigned to sit with someone traveling alone.
Breakfast Bill was our friend for Tuesday breakfast. He's from Alabama which was made obvious by his accent and Alabama football hat. Bill started into his life story, which truly was a story to tell, and quickly let us know his love for the Lord. We appreciated him sharing his faith with us and making sure we knew Jesus. We got a little tickled, though, when he continued to witness to us not 1, not 2, but 4 times. We listened nicely and "amen'd" Bill a few times, but basically wanted to stop and say, "No, Bill, really--we good!" Bless his heart. He just really wanted to be sure we heard the good news. As he left he said, "I want you to know that God loves you and so do I."
We should also give a shout-out to a few other characters from train ride 2:
Lounge Car Martin--who wore a red clown nose around the train of the day and ran the snack bar.
Mr. Nancy--who wore a t-shirt reading "If lost please return to Nancy."
SheShe--whose Mom sat a few rows behind her, but insisted on yelling "SheShe, you see that?!" every time we passed a cool view (which was often).
The characters on this trip. THE BEST.
The rest of the morning we napped, read, snacked, and listened to podcasts. We got to get out at Grand Junction, Colorado and spend about 25 minutes hanging outside. The fresh air was nice (although we use "fresh air" lightly--it's also a major smoke break for the smokers on the train, so it's sometimes a challenge to find the fresh air.)
We lunched around 12:15p.m (no extra guest at our table this time) and then we headed to the observation car to play Phase 10. This is actually the first time during the trip that we broke out a game. I'm serious when I tell you it's hard to focus on what you're doing because you just want to stare out the window the whole time.
We all love the community atmosphere in the observation car. While we played, there was a table of Amish people two rows down that pulled out their Phase 10 cards and played as well.
A family for four sat behind us with their brown bag lunches they packed in coolers and stared out the window while they ate peanut butter sandwiches. And we watched as two other tables filled up with strangers. We listened in while everyone shared where they're from, what they're doing on the train, where they're headed. It's so nice to actually stop and look people in the eye every once and while.
We traveled through Utah and Colorado all day and continuously kept thinking, "Surely that's the best view we'll see." But it just kept getting better.
We went through canyons, rode alongside the Colorado river, drove through tunnel after tunnel and stared at snow-capped mountains. The views were INCREDIBLE.
Soon, we'll arrive to Denver (we're behind, but due in at 8:30p.m) and will head to our AirBnB. We're excited to stay in a home instead of hotel (read between the lines, we're excited to do some laundry).
Now that we're 5 days into the trip we've had a chance to really figure out what items we needed and what items we didn't. Some of us bought new things for the trip (new backpacks, shoes, electronics, etc.) Here's a quick review of one item Caroline bought. Maybe this will help with your travel shopping!
Shopping Review: What I Bought for the Trip and What I Think About it Now (from Caroline Green)
When embarking on a trip like this, or any trip, it can be tempting to purchase lots of new gear. I didn't want to buy much — that sort of negates the whole budget-friendly adventure idea — but I did want to make sure I had functional, wearable with a variety of outfits, comfortable footwear. This led me to Crocs. I know what you're thinking, but no, not the giant neon clogs of the early 2000s. These Crocs are actually pretty cute, and I'd wager unless you were told you might not even know the were Crocs. I'd read a post by a travel-savvy fashionista saying they were her must-have travel shoe, and I might almost agree. They can definitely be worn with any attire and enjoy a very cushiony sole. My one caution: Crocs kind of make your feet sweat, and when your feet are sweaty they might slip around in the shoes a bit. Not a major issue, unless you're hauling it through an airport because you have negative 2 minutes to make your connection. I may not wear my new Crocs much in my regular life, but I expect them to make regular appearances on trips where a lot of walking is expected.
And that's that. This is a trip we'll never forget. Here are a few more pictures from our trip through Colorado! We'll be in Denver until Thursday evening and then we'll get back on the train and head to Chicago!
In case you missed it... You can catch the previous posts here: