Great Western Road Trip – Day 1

Chicago, IL – Denver, CO

This morning, I kissed Trish and the kitties goodbye and headed off on The Great Western Road Trip with my dad.

We decided to skip the most boring parts of the drive and fly to and from Denver to begin and end our adventure in Colorado. From there we’ll make a loop up through Mt. Rushmore and Yellowstone, then head down to Four Corners, swing through Mesa Verde, and return to Denver. All told it’s about 2,600 miles and we have 11 days to do it.

This is an unusual trip for us because other than our flights and a hotel in Denver for tonight, we have made no firm plans or reservations. We’re just going where the wind takes us (and hopefully we’ll find hotels along the way because I am NOT prepared to camp)!

Our flight from Chicago to Denver was shorter than I remembered and we flew past the most amazing (and photogenic) cloud formations. 

Dad told me horror stories about the Denver airport baggage claim process, but our bags appeared promptly. We successfully followed the overly-complicated instructions to the Sixt car rental shuttle and acquired a very nice Volvo SUV for our expedition. 

The Denver airport is truly in the middle of nowhere so it was about a 45-minute drive to Denver. We checked into our room at The Brown Palace, which is an interesting historic hotel. It’s built on a strange triangular plot of land. The building is also triangular with a spacious atrium through the middle of its 10 or 12 stories. When we arrived, a live pianist sat at the grand piano playing a Disney tune. The music carried pleasantly up to the sixth-floor hallway as we went to drop off our bags. The bellman was extremely friendly and chatted with Dad about the history of the hotel while I lagged behind to film some shots of the atrium and piano.

The Brown Palace is a few blocks south of where I stayed by the convention center a few years ago. I actually remember the area quite well and there are a couple of lovely restaurant districts within walking distance. However, we decided not to push our luck by overexerting ourselves too soon in the mile-high city and had dinner in the restaurant attached to our hotel, The Ship Tavern.

There are indeed miniature ships on display in Ships Tavern. The decor is a bit aged and in need of a facelift to make it charming again but the service was extremely friendly and attentive. I had a flavorful, succulent, perfectly cooked slice of prime rib with potatoes that must have been half butter and a side of crisp veggies. Dad had a burger he ordered because it looked so good going by.

We called it an early night. As of tomorrow, we’re without an official itinerary. All we have to guide us is an app called Roadtrippers where we’ve mapped out our rough route and some points of interest along the way. I have my fingers crossed!

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