We had come full circle and returned to Colorful Colorado (as the state sign says). Our first stop was at the Colorado National Monument, right outside of Grand Junction where we would be staying for the night. We drove the entire length of Rim Rock Drive, making stops at overlooks along the way. The landscape had changed dramatically from mountains and lakes and forests to layers upon layers of red rocks and a sparse number of trees. I enjoyed the change, I think the rocks are awesome and probably tell incredible stories since they’ve been there for so long. We had a beautiful day weather-wise, and enjoyed viewing the red valleys with the blue sky above. After a good amount of time, we continued the few miles further to our hotel for the night. Starving, we chose to have dinner at an Applebee’s. Nothing like an Applebee’s to stir up my memories of Friday nights in middle school. Surprisingly (?), we had a pretty good dinner and I had a nice goblet of sangria to go along with it. Post dinner, MJ had plans to go watch the local minor league baseball team play a home game. I, on the other hand, had plans with the hotel shower and bed. It was a relaxing evening, but we laughed about being apart for 3 hours since it was the most we had been separated the entire trip.
The next morning was the real “last leg”; the final drive back to Denver. Originally, our plan was to spend that day in Denver and then drive back up to Rocky Mountain NP for another half day and night of camping there, since our first stop wasn’t too inclusive. But 2 weeks of non stop movement had taken it’s toll on us and we decided it would be nice to stay and spend the final day in Denver. This would eliminate the long drive to and from RMNP, particularly on Tuesday when we needed to return all rentals and get back to the airport for a 1:30 flight. Anywho, we made it back to Denver in time for the 2:10 start to the Braves vs. Rockies game at Coors Field on Sunday afternoon. With some pizza and salad in my belly, I was good to go for a few hours. Except the heat that day was almost unbearable and our seats were in direct sunlight. A few innings in, we made moves for the other side of the stadium where we found seats under the cover of shade and our quality of life improved dramatically. I think MJ really enjoyed being able to see his team play all the way out in Colorado, so I was happy that we made time to go to the game. After it ended, we drove further into the downtown area, which isn’t really very far at all, as it turns out a lot of downtown Denver is pretty condensed into one area. We chose to have dinner at a place called Rock Bottom Brewery right on the 16th Street Mall, which is a pedestrian road filled with shops and restaurants. We had seats at a high top ledge that overlooked the street, so we enjoyed dinner with the added touch of people watching. After dinner, we went over to the state capitol building, which was apparently disappointing according to Michael’s standards, and the Civic Center across the street. There was a large screen set up for a movie night and people were beginning to congregate in the area. We watched a stunning orange and pink sunset occur before getting back into the car and figuring out check in for our Airbnb. Now, I think Airbnb is a really awesome system and I am a huge supporter, but I do always seem to have bad luck in my choices. After some trouble checking into our place that set us back about an hour, we finally got it all worked out and were settled into an apartment on the 30th floor overlooking the city. Not a bad view at alllllll, so I really can’t complain. We made plans to stay the extra night at the apartment and settled in, happy to not have to hit the road again in the morning.
On Monday morning we got up leisurely and went to a recommended brunch spot called Snooze. In turn, I will highly recommend the place as well. The food was fantastic and the place had a cool atmosphere as well. MJ and I are big breakfast/brunch eaters, so we were happy as clams after filling up on a great meal. At breakfast, we had decided to spend our final day at the Nature and Science Museum of Denver, a definite change in activity type compared to what we had been up to for the past 2 weeks. This is my type of museum; it has all of the hands on activities and exhibits that keep me interested, and I think MJ was into it as well. We watched an IMAX movie about dinosaurs and one on the solar system, explored the body heath exhibit, the North American animals exhibits, mythical creature exhibit and a few more along the way. I had a great afternoon that day and was happy to have the change of pace. After finishing up at the museum, we decided to return our camping gear so we wouldn’t have to do it the following day. We made the drive out of the city to do that, and wrapped that up with no problems. For dinner that night, we went to a bar and grill type of place and had our last supper. We walked to Union Station for a view of the outside and then to another recommended spot called the 1Up which is a local underground arcade game bar. This. Place. Is. Awesome. It’s dark and dingy and for .25 cents you can pretty much play any arcade game of your childhood. We spent $5 total and played rounds of skee-ball, Super Mario, Pac man, pinball… so much fun. I love that Michael and I can do stuff like that and it is more than enough to make our night. Post games, we went back to Union Station to grab an ice cream cone and finish out our final night.
Tuesday morning arrived quickly, and we were out the door to grab breakfast, return the rental car, catch the bus to the airport and settle in for our flights back to Newark. All of that went relatively smoothly and we made it home late on Tuesday night! We had two weeks filled with incredible adventures, sights and moments and we were able to do it all together, which was really special to me. I am a big fan of reflection and understanding and processing life experiences, and I have had plenty of time to think about this trip and what it means to me. I was able to continue my passion for exploring new places with someone who is very important in my life and I’m sure not many people get to say that they have done those things. I am so lucky that we were able to pull this trip off and I can’t wait to see where our adventures take us next! 🙂