“It was an Elan. A delightful little thing famously made of Kleenex and unicorn farts.” ~ Sam Smith
DAY FOURTEEN – What a strange and wonderful day!
Today started early when the sun came in the window at the motel at about 5:45. Why I didn’t see that the curtain was not fully closed I don’t know but I didn’t. So I tried to go back to sleep but once I’m awake that’s it for me…I’m awake. If I had scheduled a long day, I would have hit the road but I had a pretty short day in mind so I puttered around, took a leisurely shower and once dressed sat on the porch at the motel in Newcastle eating a Danish and drinking the provided apple juice while watching the town wake up.
As I got in the car and got going about 7:45 when I couldn’t procrastinate any more, I drove gently for a while looking at the town and the scenery as I left the community. It is a pleasant place that has hung on despite the changes of time and it occurred to me that one could do much worse than a friendly little town like Newcastle now that we have learned that many of us can be wherever we want and still work productively. There are a lot of folks in the LA basin who might find the friendliness, pace and cost of this town mighty attractive.
As you will note from the map, I had a stop planned at the Miners and Stockman’s Steakhouse in tiny Hartville, WY because it was listed as the very best place to eat in the state of Wyoming on some magazine’s list of best places and I wondered how it came to be there. So about 9:45 I roll into the two block long town with the sign that says “No outlet” as I turn onto main street Hartville.
I stopped in front of the place and was taking this picture when a fellow walked up and asked if he might help. I told him why I had stopped and he launched into the story. It seems there was a Hartville rancher who not only wanted to raise cattle but serve the best beef in a gourmet restaurant, so he spent a lot of money to do just that. Then he had some health problems and put the place up for sale, but as you might imagine there were not a lot of interested buyers because of the location. There was one though; a fellow from Glendale CA whose home was in the shadow of the Rose Bowl, who had tired of California and had relatives near there. When the asking price had dropped after 18 months of no buyer, he jumped. He had never operated a restaurant before but was known as an excellent steak griller by all his friends and said to himself, if other folks can do this, so can I. In 2009 he moved lock stock and barrel to realize his dream.
I was intrigued by his knowledge and asked if he was friends with the owner. He laughed and said, “I am the owner, my name is Scott.” Then he invited me for a tour of the place (which is charming) and a through history lesson of Hartville. He spent about 40 minutes with me describing how he gets the best prime beef from one supplier and is only open Thursday through Saturday nights and it was just delightful. He says he has spoiled people for any other steakhouse and, you know, I believe him. It was just the respite I needed and I am glad I had the time in my plan to do this stop. See what I mean by strange and wonderful?
The drive down through Wyoming was quite nice as the wind was calm and the scenery and road were interesting. I made good time to Laramie where I stopped for gas and a rest break. Highway 230 southwest out of Wyoming and into Colorado was delightful, but the weather looked foreboding. A huge storm cloud was just east of me and I could see rain falling from it. The wind picked up and the temperature dropped so I was relieved when I turned south onto CO 125 and the sun reappeared. I decided to stop in Walden for lunch and had a great burger at the Mad Moose along with a barrage of places travelled from my waitress. What made it interesting was that she asked me about my little car and how I came to be in Walden. Within about three sentences she had taken over and proceeded to regale me with all HER trips from the Florida Keys to the Olympic Peninsula along with a diatribe on people who don’t travel or just fly into their destination. The food was really good.
After lunch, I chose to take CO 14 instead of CO 125 out of Walden because the weather was looking worse due south and I thought I might skirt it by going slightly west to Kremmling rather than through Granby. I was right all the way to the junction of CO 134 with US 40 only six miles west of Kremmling. Several big fat drops hit the windshield so I immediately stopped and began the top erecting process. The rain splattered a few drops but held off until I got to the motel in Kremmling and parked under the portico. Then it came down! It has now passed and I face the decision tomorrow morning of whether to leave the top up or take it down. See what I mean by strange and wonderful?
Impressions from the fourteenth day:
• Thanks to my wife for making the final piece of all the donations to achieve the goal I set of $1.50 per mile for a total of $17,250 for the kids at Roundup River Ranch. I am so grateful for all of you who have supported me and the kids.
• There are wonderful roads, beautiful scenery and interesting things all over this country and people who are helpful, kind and willing to engage in every town and village in the USA. What a country!
• It was really good to get back to familiar weather, scenery and roads. I have really enjoyed seeing all the places I have but it reinforces why I live here in Colorado and love it.
• I am really looking forward to seeing the LOCO folks tomorrow and to a great run down the Tarryall Road to lunch in Woodland Park. What a grand finale to this epic journey.
Hi, I’m Ross and I’m a tripoholic. I love driving especially in my old cars and then writing about the adventure that always follows. I’m old enough to know better but that doesn’t stop me. If you like stories of the road, every word true no matter how far fetched it may seem, then grab a beer or a cup of coffee and join me!
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