Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska: Oh My!

Thanks to a little winter planning; Tyree, Cole, Clint and I made our way to the Colorado Rockies to spend our 4th of July week.  And what a trip it was!

 

Tuesday, July 3rd: Destination Ogallala, NE.

We chose to split up our journey to the mountains and landed on Ogallala, NE as destination #1.  The group left in waves due to varying schedules with Clint rolling out at noon, Cole shortly before 4 and Tyree and I shortly thereafter.  Hot as hell (the trend for my long distance rides this summer have been accompanied by 97 degree + weather) but an easy ride, Tyree and I made our way into town right around 9pm.  Hungry and thirsty we met the boys at the Front Street Saloon and Restaurant.

 

This destination continues to wow crowds with their stage shows, shoot-outs and old western charm.  Definitely a stop worth taking, but be sure to check their schedules of events so you can see the action. Our waiter, Josh, was a charmer.

Around 9:30 we headed towards our campground where Clint had already set up our tents.  At this point, we had a solid view of the incredible lightning show off to the west.  The radar told us we’d miss the rain, but as we arrived back to camp, we all made the collective decision to throw on our rain tarps, just in case Mother Nature decided to play games.  And games she played.  Just as we were finishing up tying down the rain gear, the wind showed up, the rain came in and shelter we sought.   There were a few moments where I questioned not only our bikes abilities to stand up to the wind but also our tents ability to bounce back, as I stood in the corner, getting wet and holding the tent from collapsing inward.

Meanwhile, Clint:

 

Wednesday, July 4th, 2018: Destination Georgetown, CO

The ride into Colorado was absolutely beautiful. We had a break in heat and the moment we rolled into the mountains we were met with a slight rain shower, but cleared up relatively quickly so we were able to take in the pristine views and breathe in that mountain air as we made our way to Georgetown, CO.  Once in Georgtown, we made our way up the mountain a good 30 minutes to our camp ground.  Guys, I didn’t take many photos of our camping location, and for that I am kicking myself.  We had a running stream right next to our tents that certainly provided the perfect background for a deep slumber.

Once camp was up, we headed back down to Georgetown to take in the 4th of July celebrations and grab a bite to eat before heading out to Mount Evans. Mount Evans is the highest paved road in North America and is typically only open to vehicles from Memorial Day to Labor Day due to the snow.

The roads towards the top begin to change into a steady stream of switchbacks and narrow passageways which requires all traffic to play nicely and be on the lookout for one another.  And once at the top… the views.  Guys.  The views!

Cole and Tyree are not phased by heights.  Not at all.  Me on the other hand made sure to have full body contact to the rocks, at all times.  Oy.  Even just looking at these photos makes my knees weak.

Photos are pretty deceptive.  It appears the snow in the lower left hand corner is a hop, skip and jump away.   It most certainly was not.  That would be a definite plummet to eternity.

After playing on the rocks, we made our way back down to “safe grounds” to enjoy the sights and mountain wildlife.

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As we were wrapping up and taking a few last photos, Tyree called in Cole for a quick selfie.  Knowing how much Cole ADORES selfies, I took the opportunity to poke fun of him by taking a photo of their selfie.

 Unbeknownst to any of us, I’d get the opportunity to capture a life-changing moment…

 

 

She said Yes!

Let me give you a little background.   Clint, being Clint, has titled every single trip or adventure that Tyree and Cole have taken these last two years as their “engagement trip”.   A constant banter that he maintained religiously.   For the Colorado trip, Cole was uncertain if he would be able to attend due to the rigorous school work expectations he was (and still is) under.  It was literally 24 hours before we departed that he felt confident enough that he could take a few days away from his studies and join us on our trip.  It was also in that 24 hour time frame that he came into official possession of the custom (and insanely beautiful) ring he had designed for Tyree.

And so finally to Clint’s satisfaction,

Engagement Trip: 2018

is now a real thing.

 

Back down the mountain we carefully went and onto Black Hawk, Colorado for dinner and fireworks to close out our late evening.   I will say, caravanning back up the Georgetown mountain to our campsite was a treat.  Tyree and I enjoy getting ourselves into questionable nighttime predicaments, apparently.

Thursday, July 5th, 2018

FREEZING.  Tent camping, in the mountains, at a high elevation equals two things: You are going to get rained on and you are going to be cold.

The original plans for our vacation had us riding several mountain passes for the entirety of Thursday, resuming our camping in Georgetown and Friday a ride through the mountains down to Colorado Springs to hike Manitou Incline (for Tyree and I).  Unfortunately, Mother Nature had better ideas and the forecast showed two solid days of raining.

Riding in the mountains is one thing.  Adding in rain is another, and it isn’t a favorable one.  So, we altered our plans, packed up camp and headed towards the Rocky Mountain National Forest, by way of Grand Lake.

 

Do me a favor and pay the $25 fee (each vehicle) to ride through the National Park and up the mountain.  Breathtaking.  Literally… I got a little lightheaded after a hairpin.  Can we call that experience a Rocky Mountain high?  Woah.  There were some prominent internal reminders to breathe deeply and often from there on out.

Riding up a mountain provides you with all of the weather elements.  T-shirts at the base, sweatshirts mid-way, leather jackets at the top.

Riding above the tree line where trees can no longer survive was quite the experience.  We didn’t stop for much once on the descent because it was just too breathtaking to want to stop but traffic was also thick and trying to find a stopping point for all three motorcycles and one truck was next to impossible.  Plan several hours to make your way up and back down the mountain.

Next stop: Estes Park for some Smokin’ Dave’s BBQ where we met friends Dustin and Corrine for lunch  before making our way towards Fort Collins by way of some incredible mountain base passageways, courtesy of Dustin’s leading.

Photo courtesy: Cole

We spent the rest of the afternoon taste-testing beer at a local brewery before closing out the evening at Thunder Mountain Harley Davidson bike night.

 

Friday, July 5th, 2018

Cole left for Omaha around 4am and so around 8am, Clint, Tyree and I said our good-byes to Dustin and Corinne (thanks guys for hosting us stinky bikers) and headed the 65 miles to Laramie, Wyoming for breakfast at the cutest townie café: J’s Prairie Rose Café.   We split a monster cinnamon roll, because you can’t NOT order a cinnamon roll at a mom & pop café, filled the rest of our bellies with traditional breakfast staples before continuing our SE Wyoming exploration to Cheyenne, Wyoming.  Once there we rode through the town to say we had officially explored what it had to offer before landing our bellies at a bar for a lunchtime beer.

And then on we went into Nebraska towards the historic western migration landmark: Chimney Rock.  We entered the visitor’s center and watched the 15 minute historical video detailing the importance of the landmark and were able to explore the walking exhibit of many artifacts and photos further detailing the events and way of life for pioneer travelers.  It was educational and quite interesting.  A must if you find yourself on the western end of Nebraska.

And then it was North East to Alliance, Nebraska for the famed Carhenge exhibit.   I laughed loudly after reading the brief plaque on how Carhenge came to be.  It sounds like another Pirtle family gathering where a lot of beer is drank and bad decisions made.

Clint couldn’t help but take a moment to mock Cole.  Anything for a laugh.

I said maybe.

Dinner at a local Mexican restaurant before making our way to the Nebraska National Forest where we set up our tents, drank some beers and reminisced about the amazing things we had experienced over the last few days.

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Saturday, July 7th, 2018

With a beautiful sunrise leading our way, we headed out for 90+ miles to another small town community for a warm café style brunch before embarking on the remaining 4 hour journey back to Omaha by way of Nebraska windy roads and rolling hills.  Tyree made it a point to take us on the most scenic route from Central Nebraska to home and she did great.  We were in absolutely no hurry to end this vacation.

We changed our original plans significantly from what we had set out for, but we had an incredible time and honestly wouldn’t have changed a thing!  It was perfect the way it was.  And we absolutely CANNOT wait to go back next year over the 4th of July. This time we will be spending an entire week exploring the mountains and my heart could absolutely explode at the thought.  But for now, I will settle on the skiing trip I just booked us for February.

Until then, Colorado. ❤

Cheers!

 

 

General Overview:

The Great Trip West – My Grandpa’s Story

I was fortunate enough to grow up with both sets of grandparents AND great-parents on each side of the family and I have to tell you…

I straight up won the grandparent lottery.

Whether here, or passed on, I have learned something unique from each one.   From how to make (and not to make) candied sugar cookies from Great Grandma Leora, to my work ethic and drive from my Grandpa Cliff Goecker and my black and white outlook on life from Grandma Bev Evans (we might as well go ahead and add shopping and our devotion to the color black in that lineup.  And the enjoyment of an occasional margarita.)   😉

My Grandpa Evans passed away 14 years ago today.  From him I learned to not take things so seriously, how to take a step back and look at the big picture, how to work hard and make sacrifices where they count and where they are needed.   Only after reading through a journal from his teenage years did I realize that perhaps a small portion of my sense for adventure came from him as well.

It was the summer of 1954, a mere 3 months post High School graduation, when my grandpa and five of his buddies embarked on a two week adventure from Iowa to Los Angeles.   To my amazement, they managed to journal a large portion of the trip.  Surprising for a bunch of 18 year old boys!

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The Great Trip West

August 14th-30th, 1954

Dick Evans, aka “Bird”

Jim Millhone, aka “Snork”

Dan Nelson, aka “Pork”

John Cundiff, aka “Johnnie” or “Flunkie”

Bill Nelson, aka “Bill Boy”

Ken Bussard, aka “Beak”

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 The boys worked throughout the summer leading up to the trip in an effort to safe enough cash to fund the entire journey.   They purchased a trailer, Coleman gas burning stove, sleeping bags, suitcases.   Borrowed tools, tarps, tents, ice chests and maps.   Their vehicle came from my grandpa’s dad, who owned a Chevy dealership at the time.  Apparently is was affectionately named Skunk for reasons both relating to aesthetics and you can guess what else.

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The boys were so organized they had even planned out the exact locations they would stop for camping and other activities including points of interest they had only heard or read about.   According to their journal entries they also managed to schedule stops at friends and families.    It was those stops that allowed them a warm shower and hot food.   What a trip it must have been to have 6 young men walking through your door.

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Saturday, August 14th, 1954 the boys departed Evans Motor Company at 10:30pm with each of their parents there to see them off.   I am sure to the parents it was a practice run for when they would see the boys off to college upon their return.

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The journal details the multiple adventures from camping, nights out, close calls and everything in between.   I had to laugh at some of the nights they spent out and about, getting back to their campsite at 4:30am to catch a few hours of sleep only to get up, get on the road and do it all over again.

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One of my favorite notes was the night of their fourth day on the road when they decided to write postcards home.   No cells, no technology, completely removed from the world except for the adventure they were on.  Can you imagine?   This made me smile.  Good job, boys.  Making sure your mama’s knew you were safe, sound and having the time of your lives.

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Their entries in California were heart warming.   These 6 boys set out on a mission to make it to California and here they were.  Seeing and experiencing the ocean together for the first time.   Experiencing the life that is the West Coast.   Forging a brotherly bond already strong into something indescribable.

What an incredible experience for them all.

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The journal detailing their story is lengthy and contains so much of what they experienced.   My intent was to share many of the stories, however, something has held me back every time I sat down to write.

I think it has to do, in part, of it being sacred.  This story was for the boys to share and experience.   This story is part of the families now that Grandpa is gone.   By telling the entire story was taking a moment in time and history and opening it up for the world.  Perhaps, it wasn’t meant for the world.   Those were the simple days of getting to live your life without everyone else knowing what you were doing and where you were going and who you were with.

How unimaginable is that?

7,000 miles, 15 days and 6 boys with stories and inside jokes that they would share for years to come.   I can’t even begin to tell their story and give it any justice.   So, with that, my good friends, I will leave you with the lessons I took from this incredible journey.

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Live your life.   Get out there and explore.   Don’t sit back and wait for things to happen.   Make them happen.   Grab your S/O, your friends, your family… whoever you choose and GO!  Get out there.  Make some plans and live in the present moment.

And, write about it. 

We live in a world so technologically fueled that our future generations won’t have anything to look back on.   Take pictures, print them off, write about your adventures and leave things behind that your kids, grand-kids and their grand-kids can enjoy in the years yet to come.

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You just never know who will appreciate it 61 years down the road.

Thanks for that, Grandpa! 

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