After a good nightâ€™s sleep, we hit the road early for the long haul to Kansas City.Â We got some lunch fixings in Hays, Kansas and drove hard and fast to KC, hitting town about about 7 pm.Â We wanted to have some genuine Kansas City barbecue, and we got a tip that we had to have the â€˜cue at Joeâ€™s Barbecue.Â Joeâ€™s has several locations, and we chose their original spot which was in a gas station.
We got an early start out of Loveland, CO, on our way to Boulder and Denver.
I got the feeling that Loveland and Longmont are still somewhat challenged by the most recent economic downturn and still in the state of recovery.
Boulder, on the other hand, is very robust and healthy.Â I actually mean â€œhealthyâ€ in two ways, both economically and in the physical health of its residents.Â Whenever we do a study involving health measures and health habits (eating, exercising), Boulder comes out as #1 in the U.S.
Ok, we didnâ€™t make it to Denver.Â We stopped short in Loveland, Colorado, since it was getting late.Â We had spent some time knocking around Laramie, Wyoming after being menaced by a few snow flurries at the pass.
The rocks and cliffs were spectacular leaving Salt Lake City and we climbed steadily with snowy peaks around us.Â There were ghostly old mining operations by the highway left to rust, and towns like Evanston and Rock Springs with fresh development.Â We fueled up at Little America in Wyoming, which at one point billed itself as the worldâ€™s largest truck stop.
Day Two started with a visit to Goldyâ€™s Breakfast Bistro on South Capitol Blvd., which is located in the increasingly hip downtown area of Boise.
Goldyâ€™s delivers the solid hipster breakfast experience, which includes long lines and no reservations. Â Food-wise it pretty good, but personally Iâ€™m a little hipstered-out right now.Â Gretchenâ€™s meal included Hollandaise sauce, and it was really well done â€“ very light and fluffy.Â However, it did lack flavor and needed some lemon juice and salt.
Overall, good food but not if youâ€™re in hurry.
With ourselves and the car fueled, we enjoyed the drive past snow-covered mountains to Boise, Idaho.
Boise is the state capital, with big domed building in its downtown area.Â We arrived on a Sunday around 7:30 pm and I was surprised that the joint was jumping.Â Boiseâ€™s downtown has several streets (not just a strip) of restaurants, clubs and interesting stores that were packed with people.
It had been a while since weâ€™d been to a nice restaurant, so we found a highly-rated one a few blocks from the downtown, Richardâ€™s CafÃ© Vicino.Â It was really excellent, with an innovative take on Italian food without getting cutesy or overdone.Â CafÃ© Vicino seems very comfortable with what itâ€™s doing, and itâ€™s doing it very well.Â We thought our meal ranked among the best weâ€™ve had in the last two or three years.Â Highly recommended for a special night out.
Day One of our road trip was a nice Oregon spring day, meaning that it was dry though overcast.Â We headed out a little late, just after 10am, Eastward on I-84 through the Columbia River Gorge.
The Gorge is one of the most beautiful spots on earth, and itâ€™s no wonder it has been designated a National Scenic Area.Â It seems the Gorge always shows up in car advertisements, showing the vehicle perched majestically above a huge river flowing far below.
This Sunday the Gorge was utterly calm, which is really rare.Â Even the numerous wind turbines were completely still.Â This phenomenon allowed wisps of low-lying clouds to cling to the valleys lining the gorge, which was a unexpected treat to see.
We wanted to cross the country as quickly as reasonably possible, so there was no time for side trips.Â We had lunch in Pendleton, Oregon at Dickeyâ€™s Barbecue.Â This is a Texas-based chain of stores, and as much as I try to steer clear of chains, Iâ€™ve got to say Dickeyâ€™s is pretty darn good.Â When youâ€™re hungry for â€˜cue, itâ€™s a solid alternative for a grab-and-go meal.
Our old Honda Odyssey van was a great road car, but it was getting a little old to take on such a long trip.
We downsized to a Honda CR-V mini-SUV which seems to hit the sweet spot between size, cost, gas mileage, reliability and drivability.
By the end of the trip, weâ€™ll be adding at least 8,000 new miles to the odometer.Â Iâ€™ll give you a report on the CR-V later in trip.
We started Sperlingâ€™s BestPlaces exactly 30 years ago, never dreaming it would ever become so widely recognized.
So, this seems like the perfect time to take a break from desk duties and head out on the road again to revisit our wonderful United States.
Starting from our home base in Oregon, my wife Gretchen and I will be driving across the U.S. in another episode of that great American institution â€“ The Road Trip.