Out West Trip Recap 3: Storm Chasing That Wasn’t

First thing’s first: first week of work was G-R-E-A-T. I love it. That feels good to say.

Back to vacation. We split our whole trip into two because we wanted to spend equal parts vacationing and equal parts storm chasing. If I had it my way, it’d be all vacationing. If Kevin had it his way, it’d be all storm chasing. Marriage = compromise, yo.

After packing up camp in the mountains, we headed north to Fort Collins to spend the afternoon wandering around. But really, we went for lunch and more beer. Kevin found Coopersmith Brewery which had an amazing patio right downtown. The beer wasn’t bad either! Kevin got the Mountain Avenue Wheat and I ordered a pint of the Poudre Pale Ale.

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Burger plus sweet potato fries for lunch truly hit the spot.

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Right after lunch, we headed to the main attraction: New Belgium Brewery! I have heard so many good things about the place home to Fat Tire, and I couldn’t wait to visit. We looked for tour tickets online a few weeks before our trip, but they were sold out! We decided to visit anyways and hope to get on standby. Luck was on our side because we were able to join one of the afternoon tours!

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GO VISIT THIS BREWERY. So fun. So great. Wonderful beer. Awesome people.

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When we signed up for the standby list, they told us we could go into the tap room and purchase a beer and take it on the tour with us. We thought that sounded like a great idea, since the tour was free after all! We assumed we’d get a sample or two, so we got one beer each and headed to meet our tour group.

Let me tell you something about this tour: do. not. buy. beer. Despite it only being $4 (and they don’t accept tips since they’re employee owned!), we were bummed we bought beer because the tour was basically unlimited free beers! Our tour guide’s motto was “Wherever I’m going, the beers are flowing. So follow me.” And that’s exactly what we did!

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At every stop, we were handed more samples. The picture below shows one of our stops where the tour guide just poured sample after sample while he talked about the brewery’s history and environmental practices.

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Because we knew we still had a long drive that night (we were headed up to Sheridan, WY) and after my episode on the first day of vacation, we both proceeded with caution.

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Regardless, we had a blast sipping different types of their beer and listening to our hilarious guide. Unfortunately, we only got about halfway through our tour when the power went out of the entire brewery and they had to shut down operations, including our tour. They made up for it with a free beer on our way out, though!

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So let me repeat this message again: go to the New Belgium Brewery tour in Fort Collins, CO. 🙂

Once we got the boot, we started our drive north to Sheridan, Wyoming. We wanted to stop here for the night since Kevin was expecting us to storm chase in central Montana the next day.

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Wyoming is when I decided the license plate game was necessary. Don’t laugh at my map. It was a bumpy road. I can’t draw.

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Ironically, on our way up to Wyoming we saw the best storm we saw all trip, including the best rainbow I’ve ever seen in my entire life.

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We saw a whole double rainbow, end-to-end. It was breathtaking! My blurry pictures don’t do it justice whatsoever.

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We called it a night once we got to our hotel in Sheridan since we had an early start the next morning. Kevin woke me up wayyyyyy too giddy and excited to drive to Montana bright and early the next day.

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We made it to our destination and waited in McDonald’s for what seemed like forever for the storms to start popping up.

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After waiting in McDonald’s, we waited on this side of the road for more hours. Meanwhile, I read almost the entire third book of The Hunger Games (still can’t decide if I like Peeta or Gale better).

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I don’t speak true meteorologist terminology but Kevin kept referring to this day as a “major bust day” where we expected storms to happen, but they just didn’t. This was the storm we were hoping would turn into something, but it pretty much died right in front of our eyes.

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Sadly, we turned around and headed to Miles City, Montana where we stayed that night. There’s not much up there, but the sunsets sure are pretty.

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Kevin woke up and checked the weather and determined that it really wasn’t worth chasing any more days. The storms just weren’t happening near us and he was worried it would be a waste of time. Because we were in southeastern Montana, we were in the perfect position to drive south a bit and go sightseeing.

And that we did!

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This thing, man, was so cool. I don’t know what caused it or how it got there, but it was crazy!

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After Devil’s Tower, we headed into Rapid City, South Dakota for lunch and to find a hotel nearby for the night. Where did we end up, you ask? A brewery, of course!

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Firehouse Brewing Co. was located in downtown Rapid City and had another great outdoor patio. Kevin ordered their Blue Eyed Girl and I got the Semper Fi.

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After lunch, we headed to the main attraction: Mount Rushmore! Neither of us had ever been and let me tell you: we were both SO impressed with this National Memorial. The detail and size were just amazing! DSC_0124

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We spent an hour or so walking the grounds and reading about the presidents featured. I’m so glad we were able to stop here!

We ended up staying in Hills City, SD in the heart of the Black Hills (not at 10,000 feet this time). Our hotel had a recliner, which Kevin fell in love with. The rest of the night I proceeded to call him an old man.

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For dinner, we took up a few friend’s recommendations and dined at Desperados. There were only two local restaurants in Hill City, but I’m glad we went with this one!

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It was super cute, local and charming. What’s not to love? Plus, this pasta hit the spot.

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We picked up a bottle of wine after dinner and enjoyed it like every classy person does outside on the patio of our hotel.

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We seem to see the best storms when were not storm chasing. This one popped up just as we finished our wine, so Kev grabbed the camera quickly to prove we did a bit of storm “chasing” on the trip.

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The next day, we woke up and decided to explore the Black Hills a bit more and go hiking!

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(I really don’t like pink very much, despite what my outfit says.)

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And that wraps up our super exciting storm chasing part of our vacation. Please sense the sarcasm. Despite it being a huge bust, I’m so glad we got to see all that we did!

Up next: visiting friends in Vermillion, SD and Des Moines, IA!

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2 thoughts on “Out West Trip Recap 3: Storm Chasing That Wasn’t

    • I know, it was such a bummer. I felt bad for him. But the rest of the trip was great and definitely worth it!

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