Best of August 2004
We have seen some beautiful stuff this month. Extended amounts of time in Colorado (we didn’t want to leave!) and Montana ensured both the most wildlife spottings and brew pub visits since the trip began. If you think we’ve missed something, or would like to see some new categories, please email us at email@example.com. We love to hear from you.
Miles Traveled (in Altima)
Longest Distance Coasting in Neutral
Five miles. From Capulin Volcano NM, N.Mex. to Pueblo, Colo. on Interstate 25.
Best Opportunity to Test Michael’s “Jacket of the Year” (Worst Weather Day)
August 25th. Pelted by 2 inches of ice at Yellowstone National Park, Wyo. But it’s August!!
Most Curious Sign
"Pom Pom Zombie Auditions" sign outside the Parson’s Theatre and Recreation Center, en route to Denver Colo. Who do they cheer for?
Liveliest City Center
We love Colorado! Boulder and Fort Collins get special mentions. And school hadn’t even started yet. We bet these cities are great fun once students from The University of Colorado and Colorado State move back into the area.
Strangest Billboard Endorsement
Hoochie Mamma Mountaineering, Woodland Park, Colo. Even hoochie mammas need a vacation.
Most Talked About Natural Phenomenon
Glaciers at Glacier National Park, Mont. Get there fast. Scientists predict they will be completely melted in thirty years. Global warming anyone?
Most Beautiful Park Site Surroundings
The Shoshone and Gallatin National Forests, Mont. wrap Yellowstone National Park with gorgeous tall pines and majestic mountains. A beautiful introduction and peaceful conclusion to the time you spend at the world’s first national park.
Billings, Mont. Especially Jim, John and the guy we met in line who gave us his box seats at the Billings Mustangs baseball game, and Donna and Bobbie who gave us and our Gary Redus bobbleheads a ride back to the hotel. Thanks everyone!
Best Day Hike
From the Many Glacier campground to Swiftcurrent Pass, Glacier National Park. Approx. 16 miles. Many campers choose to do this as part of a backcountry trek, or split between two days, spending a night at the Granite Park Chalet at the top of the pass and returning the next day. We went up and back in one day. It’s doable, but we were awfully tired by the end of it. Almost too tired to remember to talk. See Bears at Close Range.
Number of Bears Seen This Month
5. 2 black. 3 grizzly. All at Glacier NP.
Number of Those Seen at Close Range (within 20 feet of us)
2(!) Thankfully, both were black bears. The kinder, gentler type (we have convinced ourselves).
August 7th, 408 miles from Dodge City, Kans. to Golden, Colo.
Ugliest Capitol Building(s)
four way tie. Cheyenne, Wyo.; Denver, Colo.; Helena, Mont.; Topeka, Kans. We had to review our photos to remind ourselves what they looked like and which one was which. Sorry. No monuments of great beauty here.
Full house at Rocky Mountain National Park, Colo. Not only were almost ALL of the campgrounds full by the time we arrived early afternoon, but most of the popular backcountry routes were overflowing as well. Bummer! But we spent a good amount of time with a Ranger at the Backcountry office and have a pretty good idea of where we want to go once things open up. It wasn’t a wasted trip. We’ll check back again later.
Most Pleasant Surprise
The Rodeo in Abiline, Kans. It’s not everyday that one drives right into Wild Bill Hickok Days. Indian tacos, curly fries and a performance by the funniest Rodeo Clown ever made it a day to remember.
The Fancy Meeting You Here Award
Finding ourselves in Colorado Springs, Colo. the exact same day as Gab’s boss from Pennsylvania and her family were vacationing at Garden of the Gods. Neither of us planned to be in Colorado this month. Serendipity! We drove back to Golden together and had a wonderful week as guests of the Butler family.
Cheapest Ballgame Ticket
$5.00 general admission to see the Billings Mustangs. But wait, did we mention they came with not one, but two free Gary Redus bobble head dolls? And a free seat upgrade? A season ticket holder we met in line offered us his box seats since he rarely sat still for the entire game. Thank you, Billings!
Most Expensive Ballgame Ticket
$7.00 to see the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field, Denver, Colo. But a kind usher led us into the $14 section
Another free upgrade!
Best American Kabuki and Most Elusive Mascot
Dinger the Dinosaur of the Colorado Rockies. Every time we saw him in the stands, he managed to disappear down the stairs or back into wherever Dinosaurs hang out during a game. We were not alone. We commiserated with a dad and his daughter who had also been seeking the ‘saur for half the game.
Most Scenic Drive (Highways)
Route 212, over the Beartooth Pass to the Northeast entrance of Yellowstone. Our friends in Billings insisted that we take this route into Yellowstone. We hadn’t planned to, but we're glad we took their advice.
Most Scenic Drive (National Parks)
Going-to-the-Sun Road, Glacier NP, Mont.
Most Displaced Reptiles
Alligators in Hooper, Colo. These gators were brought in to help keep local fish farms free of fish guts. Now they live and stay warm in Artesian Wells near the Great Sand Dunes NM under the shadows of the Rockies.
Sioux Sundries, Harrison, Nebr. Home of the 32-ounce Coffeeburger. 2 ice teas, 2 8-oz black angus burgers (one with fries, one with onion chips) and 2 ice cream cones set us back $13.88. The sign outside Sioux Sundries boasts the “Best Burgers in Nebraska.” We believe that their reign expands beyond one state. These are the best burgers we have ever tasted. No lie.
Lowest Price for Gas
$1.72 at the 1st Stop, Phillips 66 in Denver, Colo. on August 9th and $1.72 at the 7-11 in Denver, Colo. on August 18th. These two gas stations are on Colfax Ave., just west of downtown, a few hundred yards from each other.
Highest Price for Gas
$2.06 at the Sinclair in Gardiner, Mont. just outside of the north entrance to Yellowstone National Park. Gas inside the Park was selling for $2.19 a gallon.
Howard’s Pizza, Great Falls, Mont. Great price. Thin crust. Tangy sauce. We had a large Howard’s Special (spicy sausage, green peppers and onions) for $10.00 and were tempted to drive back to get the medium pepperoni that was on sale for $7.22.
Best Local Cuisine
Barbeque in Kansas City. Fiorella’s World Famous Jack Stack Barbeque in Kansas and Arthur Bryants in Missouri gave us more meat than we could handle. Burnt Ends rock. We carried the extra sauce from Jack’s Stack around in our cooler for the entire month, looking for good stuff to pour it on. Crust from Howard’s Pizza did the trick.
Best Front Desk Personnel
Amerisuites, Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Us: “Do you guys have microwave popcorn for the room?”
Him: “Wait, let me think….yeah! Oh. Hang on. No. That’s some other hotel.”
We laughed so hard we almost forgot we were still hungry.
Best Brew Pub
Coopersmiths, Fort Collins, Colo.
Worst Acting in a National Park Service Film
The over-eager student in the Race and the American Creed film series at Brown v. Board of Education NHS, Topeka, Kans.
The outsourced Xanterra campground at Canyon in Yellowstone NP. $4.50 MORE than the lovely NPS-run campground in Mammoth Hot Springs with no added benefit. PLUS we couldn’t choose our own site AND we had to give everything but the name of our dogs to make the reservation. Reservation???
Mammoth Hot Springs Campground, Yellowstone NP. Friendly camp hosts, an entire box of firewood which lasted us three nights for $6.00, just around the corner from the Visitor Center, Lodge and other amenities, sections set aside for tents and extended quiet hours. Just about perfect and cheaper than their Xanterra counterparts in other parts of the park.
Burlington, IA • St. Joseph, MO • Independence, MO • Kansas City, MO • Overland Park, KS • Lenexa, KS • Lecompton, KS • Lawrence, KS • Topeka, KS • Strong City, KS • Manhattan, KS • Abilene, KS • Hays, KS • Nicodemus, KS • Larned, KS • Dodge City, KS • Lamar, CO • La Junta, CO • Colorado Springs, CO • Castle Rock, CO • Golden, CO • Denver, CO • Boulder, CO • Estes Park, CO • Florissant, CO • Cripple Creek, CO • Salida, CO • Mosca, CO • Walsenburg, CO • Trinidad, CO • Raton, NM • Capulin, NM • Longmont, CO • Fort Collins, CO • Cheyenne, WY • Fort Laramie, WY • Torrington, WY • Harrison, NE • Chadron, NE • Pine Ridge, SD • Interior, SD • Buffalo, WY • Crow Agency, MT • Fort Smith, MT • Pompeys Pillar, MT • Billings, MT • Red Lodge, MT • Cooke City, WY • Mammoth Hot Springs, WY • Gardiner, MT • Canyon Village, WY • West Yellowstone, MT • Big Sky, MT • Bozeman, MT • Three Forks, MT • Helena, MT • Great Falls, MT • East Glacier, MT • West Glacier, MT
Harry S. Truman NHS • Harry S. Truman Presidential Museum and Library • Brown v. Board of Education NHS • Tallgrass Prairie N PRES • Eisenhower Center • Nicodemus NHS • Fort Larned NHS • Bent’s Old Fort NHS • Florissant Fossil Beds NM • Great Sand Dunes NM • Capulin Volcano NM • Fort Laramie NHS • Agate Fossil Beds NM • Badlands NP • Minuteman Missile NHS • Little Bighorn Battlefield NM • Bighorn Canyon NRA • Pompeys Pillar NM • Yellowstone NP • Missouri Headwaters SP • Glacier NP