Out West Trip Recap 1: Drive Out West & Denver

Hello hello! Long time no talk! Here we are on vacation, driving down I-90 in South Dakota as we begin to make our way back home. Blogging from the road is fun! My iPhone can be a personal hotspot and we upgraded our plan to add more GBs for storm chasing purposes but the storms were flops (I’ll get to this another day) so I’m using the already-paid-for data to keep myself busy as Kev-o does the driving.

Where did we leave off? Ah yes, my last day of working from home. Gracie napped on the couch, per the usual and I wrapped up last-minute emails, walked coworkers through some things and made sure everything was buttoned up before I bid farewell. It was bittersweet knowing I’ll never use that room as my office anymore but like I said earlier, I couldn’t be more excited for what’s next!

IMG_6513 After work on Thursday, we packed up the car and headed to good ole St. Louie! We were surprised everything fit between our tent and camping gear, suitcases and enough snacks for an army. IMG_6514 Gracie was thrilled to hit the road! But sadly, we got stuck in pretty terrible traffic. Not a great way to kick off a big long road trip out west. IMG_6517 We spent Thursday night in St. Louis with my family, said goodbye to Grace Face in the morning (my parents watched her for us), picked up our rental car and hit the road! But, not without stopping by Jack in the Box first. Tacos with ranch for breakfast may be the best breakfast of all time. (Don’t knock it til you try it.) IMG_6518 Then, we drove. Well, I should say Kevin drove. He’s the driver in our family. I’m so glad I married someone who likes driving because I hate it. I’m a much better passenger. I’m pretty good at napping, reading, changing the music, getting snacks out and playing Candy Crush during drives. 😉 IMG_6520 IMG_6524 We stopped in Kansas City for nothing other than some deeeelicious BBQ! Because we had a far drive ahead still, we split a beer instead of each getting one. Can’t do KC without Boulevard! IMG_6521 We ate at The Woodyard, where we ate a few years ago, and it certainly didn’t disappoint. We were hoping to try Oklahoma Joe’s, but the line was wrapped around the gas station and we didn’t want to wait that long. We knew The Woodyard was a good backup choice. I got their BBQ wings with cheesy corn (omg) and burnt end chili. IMG_6522 It’s safe to say that I promptly fell asleep for a big post-BBQ nap as soon as we got back in the car. But we were in Kansas…I didn’t miss much. IMG_6526 We decided to sleep in Colby, KS that night which was about a 10 hour drive from St. Louis and just a couple of hours from our Saturday destination, Denver. Part of “planning” for this trip was no planning at all. Each morning, we Pricelined a hotel (name your own price!) in whatever city we were going to be in. To my fellow Type-A’ers…you can do it! Totally not as scary as I thought. 😉 Our hotel in Colby, KS was pretty nice and right next to the only restaurant in town – City Limits Grill. We grabbed some burgers and another Boulevard beer before heading to bed on our first night of vaca! IMG_6527 The next morning we got an early start and arrived in downtown Denver just before lunch. Hellooooo, Colorado! IMG_6528 I was born in Denver and my parents used to live there, so I’ve always had a soft spot for it. I’ve been to some of the ski resorts, but never to downtown Denver (that I remember). As a part of being a Marriott Rewards® Ambassador, I was hooked up with our hotel – the Renaissance Downtown Denver. I’ll get to that more in a few days but this hotel was SWEET. It was brand new! Only open for nine days! It was probably the fanciest hotel I’ve ever stayed in. DSC_0002 The bed was SO incredibly comfortable. DSC_0001 And the bathroom was gorgeous. IMG_6558 IMG_6559 And we got robes! You know the hotel is fancy when you get robes. IMG_0888 This hotel is in the historic Colorado National Bank building and the decor was amazing. There were vaults, fireplaces and the smallest details that made this hotel pretty spectacular. IMG_0891 We checked in and headed down the street to eat lunch at Marco’s Coal-Fired Pizza in the fun Larimer area. More beers, of course! (Hope you’re not sick of beer pictures yet because there’s a LOT more where that came from. You just wait.) IMG_6532 I ordered the Colette from Great Divide Brewing Company (Denver, CO) and Kev got the Amber Ale from Full Sail Brewing Co (Hood River, OR). And then we flip flopped and I ordered Kev’s beer as my second one because I liked it better. DSC_0003 We started with their feature salad which was to die for. I could eat goat cheese by the pound. DSC_0004 And we got the Brooklyn pizza which had mushrooms, pepperoni, sausage and red onions. We demolished all of it! DSC_0005 After lunch, we walked a few blocks down to the Great Divide Brewing Company. I first heard/read of this place on Iowa Girl Eat’s blog and once I told Kev about it, he was sold. But first! We stopped by Coors Field to take a few pictures. DSC_0007 Great Divide was pretty small, but so fun – especially on a gorgeous Saturday afternoon. We had a blast sitting at the bar people watching, laughing with the bartenders and making friends with the couple from Germany next to us. IMG_6534 They offer $1 tastings, but you get a pretty good amount of beer for a taste (I later learned this the hard way). I started with Denver Pale Ale – a classic pale ale, Nomad – classic pilsner and Hades – a Belgian-styled golden ale. IMG_6533 Tasting more was probably the worst decision I made all day. Let’s not forget the two beers we just had at lunch (one at 7.3% and one at 6% ABV). But just like on our honeymoon, I couldn’t resist! Is this where the phrase “yolo” applies? My next three were the Titan IPA – “aggressively hopped,” Hoss – a rye lager, and the Hercules Double IPA – “not for the faint of the heart.” (Mom, aren’t you proud of me?) ((My mom loves IPAs)) IMG_6537 And then we decided to be a genius to order some full-sized beers because we were having SO MUCH FUN. Collette for Kev and the DPA for me. IMG_6540 I really wanted to steal this glass, but the bartenders were too nice and I wasn’t confident in my sneakiness at this point. IMG_6542 We decided six tastings and two beers there were enough, so we headed back towards our hotel to figure out what to do next. IMG_6543 Let’s just say that I accidentally drank too many craft beers at a high altitude. And my husband proceeded to just laugh at me. Thanks for the love, hubs. After he promptly helped me to bed at the early hour of FOUR P.M., I took a niiiiice long nap to sleep off the raging hangover those beers were sure to leave me. When I woke up later that night, we were both starving so we headed to the 16th Street Mall (right by our hotel!) to find dinner. IMG_6548 I broke my cardinal rule of not eating at a chain restaurant while on vacation or in a new city, by suggesting we dine at Rock Bottom brewery. As soon as I saw chicken fried chicken and fries on their menu, I had my mind made up. Greasy, heavy food was just what the doctor ordered. And despite being at a brewery, I did NOT have a beer. (Kevin did though! Way to go, champ.) Chicken fried chicken had never tasted so good. IMG_6549 We walked around 16th Street Mall for a little bit longer but it started to rain so we called it an early night (thank goodness)! Coming up next: white water rafting and the mountains!

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2 thoughts on “Out West Trip Recap 1: Drive Out West & Denver

    • Oh I’m SO GLAD I wasn’t the only one! Ha ha. Thank you so much for the recommendation – we had a blast!

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