Heading West

{“I headed west / I was a man on the move” – The Lumineers}


Hello my friends!

I’ve been doing some traveling in the last week and wanted to share my journey with you but needed to collect my thoughts before writing.

Anywho…

I left Vermillion on Saturday, after attending graduation and sending all of my coworkers and friends off to their real lives. As you all know, I am not a planner and don’t really like to follow itineraries, rules, or schedules, but rather fly by the seat of my pants – is this still a phrase that people use? – and go with the flow. This is exactly how I like to travel. So I didn’t have any plans for how long I would drive, where I would stay for the night, etc. The only thing I knew was my destination: Crownpoint, New Mexico, where I would stay with my brother, Josh for a few days.

It was about 2:45pm when I hit the road. And I stopped for the night at 12:45am in Colorado Springs, Colorado. I definitely slept in my car in the Walmart parking lot – this is the true definition of adventure – and loved every second of it – all five hours of it. I woke up at 5:45 and was ready to move again. I went inside to go to the bathroom, brush my teeth, and grab a quick breakfast at the McDonalds inside. McDonalds was closed – probably for the best – so I decided to cross an item off of my Colorado Summer Bucket List – yes, I’ve been researching fun things to do and explore while I am here for the summer – and I stopped at Switchback Coffee Roasters for a coffee and a croissant.

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Switchback Coffee Roasters

This place was quiet, cute, and quaint. I was one of three people there – no surprise as it opened at 6am and it was 6:09 – so I had a choice of sitting inside or out on the patio. I settled in at a spot right by the window, with low hanging lights, and a plant in the center of the table – perfect. I will definitely be going back to Switchback.

I got on the road half an hour later, after discovering that Garden of the Gods didn’t open until 8am – so much for that idea. I left the Springs and headed south to New Mexico,  planning to stop for lunch in Santa Fe. I made it to Las Vegas and was so hungry I decided to make a quick stop in this tiny little town. What I didn’t know was that this town is not as sleepy as I thought it would be. I stopped at what may perhaps be the world’s slowest Burger King. I waited for 20 minutes for a 10 piece nugget – Byyyyeeee – and was so frustrated I almost left without my food.

After this extended stop I was anxious to get going again. I wanted to stop in Santa Fe, but now all I wanted to do was get to Albuquerque. So I skipped my stop in Santa Fe, and stopped at Pinon Coffee House in Albuquerque to pick up some good coffee for Josh and I to drink this week as well as a small dark roast to get me through my remaining two hour drive.

Finally, I had made it to Josh’s house! He was outside putting green chile cheeseburgers on the grill when I pulled up. Hank greeted me in his usual fashion of excitedly hopping up and down on his hind legs. Boy, was I glad to be in this tiny town again. I don’t know what it is, but there’s something really cool about Crownpoint.


Josh had to work all week, so I mostly kept Hank company, caught up on sleep, and did some running on the Mesa while I was there.

We did do some exploring and adventuring though. Josh took a personal day on Wednesday so we headed to Santa Fe on Tuesday night. We went into Cuba for dinner at what may be the best Tex-Mex restaurant in New Mexico and waited to see what the weather looked like to make our decision on camping in the Jemez Mountains for the night.

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El Bruno’s is the best Tex-Mex around
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A beast of a Navajo Taco

We ended up grabbing a motel room and posted up in a warm bed instead of cold, snowy, rainy mountainside. I curled up with my book and a Happy Camper IPA from Santa Fe Brewing Company, while Josh watched the Spurs v. Rockets and enjoyed a beer himself.

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Happy Camper IPA & The Minimalists

Wednesday morning we tried soaking in a hot spring but the road was closed due to weather, so we decided to go check out Bandelier National Monument instead. While I would have loved the hot spring bath, the hike at Bandelier was worthwhile, so no complaints here! After this we headed to Meow Wolf, an interactive art exhibit in Santa Fe. If you ever make it to this city, you have to check it out. It’s story telling, jungle gym, art museum, and puzzle all in one.

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“If you want a better view of the horizon, sometimes you’ve got to break a sweat climbing that hill” – Ron Pope
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Hiking up the Alcove Trail at Bandelier
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From the top of the Alcove Trail at Bandelier

After Meow Wolf, we drove to Albuquerque to take the tram up the mountains, but it was foggy and cold so we decided not to do it as we wouldn’t have had a very good view – I also was not dressed warm enough. We stopped at Page 1 Books and each found some books on sale! Hooray for local, independent bookstores being around still!

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Page 1 Books

We grabbed some grub at Bosque Brewing Company where I had the best and spiciest grilled cheese imaginable – I don’t do well with spices and this thing killed me but boy was it good. Here we ended our adventure-filled day and drove back to Crownpoint.


I left Josh on Friday morning. He went to school and I went North to Colorado, anxious to arrive in Gunnison. I stopped in some amazing cities on my way, and drove along the Million Dollar Highway, a narrow and winding mountain road with views that are unbeatable, but you don’t want to look in fear of driving off the edge of the mountain. I made it to Western State Colorado University between 2 and 2:30pm and headed to the Residence Life and Conference Services office where Paul would get me checked into my apartment.

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Western State Colorado University: Home of the Mountaineers

I started to get settled and then headed to dinner at High Alpine Brewing Company with Paul and some of his friends. I’d have to say my first night in town was very pleasant, an insight into what my summer and what Gunnison in the summer will feel like. Thanks Paul for treating me to my first meal in town!

Since Friday, I have explored, done some hiking and running, and have gotten more settled into my apartment.

My roommate and co-intern, Ezequiel, will arrive on Monday and I can’t wait to meet him and get started with training!


More updates to come.

Happy Mothers Day!

-Joel

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