After Vail closed on April 18, we stored our skis, winter clothes and all of the kitchen stuff that Audre accumulated at the Dotsero Self Storage (5' x 10') space we rented for $20 a month. We took some warm clothes for our trip north to Vancouver (and for Beijing in October) and off we went in the Nissan Sentra we rented from Hertz in November 2009 in Denver for about $19 a day.
We left at 10:45 a.m. and arrived in Rawlins, WY at 3:18 p.m. It was 262 miles. We drove north to Steamboat Springs on 131 though high desert that wasn't too interesting. The 2 lane road was good and it took 1 1/2 hours from Avon to Steamboat Springs. We bought gas at $2.96 a gallon (for unleaded premium) in Steamboat Springs down from $3.15 a gallon (for unleaded regular) in Avon and off we went. We had crudites, finger sandwiches and fruit in the car as we drove that Audre had made.
Outside of Craig on Rt. 40 the terrain was expansive and, as a change from the golden color elsewhere, it was a spring green. We went north on Rt. 13 from Craig and there were lots of deer in the fields along the road (and too many dead along side of the road). There were also many installations that looked like they were for pipelines. The landscape became more barren as we headed into Wyoming.
When we got to the I-80 we went east on it to Rawlins. It was about 70 degrees F all along the way and partly cloudy. From time to time we encountered showers. Dimitri and Audre shared the driving half and half and it was good to be back on the road again. Our last roadtrip was in South America during our stay there (2006-2008--see the blog entries for that) and we have missed it. Click here for the first post of our blogs on our South American explorations (and at the end of that post, click "Older Post" to continue reading about our roadtrip.
When we got to Rawlins we started looking at places to stay. Our goal was to spend less than $75 for the one night there. The Travelogue was old and smelly, the Comfort Inn was $126 with some negotiating for their suite with a sofa, the Microtel was $98 for their suite (after much negotiating) which had a sofa from which to watch TV, the Oak Tree was full, the Hampton Inn was full, the Holiday Inn Express was full and we decided to stay at the America's Best Value Inn (1392 So. Highley Blvd., Rawlins, WY 82301, tel. 307-328-1732, web: http://www.americasbestvalueinn.com/, 888-315-2378) in their standard room for $64 including tax, wi-fi and breakfast. So we didn't have a couch or any comfortable chairs and we watched TV (uncomfortably) from the bed. The standard amenities in the room were a refrigerator and a microwave, as well as an electric coffeemaker. Even though the room was small, it had nooks and crannies to put our food bags away.
A restaurant in Rawlins had been recommended to us by Bruce (of Arrowhead and Grand Junction) when he skied with us at Vail 50+ Ski With Us. It is called Aspen House Restaurant and it bills itself as a steak, seafood, poultry, pasta Singapore and Cajun Cuisine restaurant. It is located at 318 5th Street in Rawlins and its telephone number is 307-324-4787. It is owned by Jim and Lena Dirck and it is in a Victorian house built in 1905. The Dircks restored the house to its former glory and it's lovely, with starched white tablecloths, good music and pretty decorations.
It is a real find! Lena Dirck is from Singapore, is the chef and, boy, we ate well! She brings in shellfish somehow--most probably frozen. We ordered Singapore Hot and Spicy Chili Crab Legs [Dungeness crab legs tossed with spicy tomatoes and chili peppers] which came with rice (and was served with a starter of soup or salad) for $28.50. While it wasn't the best or sweetest crab we've ever had, the dish was delicious and we slowly ate every fat-ish, moist, morsel in each crab leg. The sauce wasn't made with egg as it is in Singapore but the recipe was good enough. We accompanied the crab with a bottle of Mondavi Sauvignon Blanc for $18. The one main course would have been plenty for the two of us. But we made a mistake and ordered a vegetarian main course as well. We ordered the Szechuen Stir Fry for $14.50. Oh well, it was okay and we'll have that in the car for lunch on Wednesday on the way to Termopolis, WY. So our carbon footprint at dinner was pretty heavy but we had asked it there was any local trout available at the restaurant.
Rawlins is in a flat area at about 6000' and just east of the Continental Divide. It sprawls out along the I-80 between exits 211 and 215. Our hotel was at exit 214. We drove through a very middle-middle class neighborhood to get back to our hotel which wouldn't get any awards like "les plus beaux villages de France". There weren't any foreclosure signs, however, and in town we even saw a sign that a business was hiring.
We went back to America's Best Value Inn where we made the decaffeinated coffee provided with our room's electric coffee maker and ate macadamia nut cookies from the lobby provided free by the hotel.
Boy are we glad we didn't spend $40 to $60 more for a room for the night that would not have been much better. It turns out that while the room was small it was well laid out. We do like to have comfortable chairs from which to watch TV, however. We'll look for that in Thermopolis, WY.
As we were leaving on Thursday morning we saw something we'd never seen before. In a large parking lot behind the America's Best Value Inn were rows and rows of big rigs (huge 18-wheeler trucks carrying containers (like the containers from ships) which we think are called "semis" in this neck of the woods). Amidst the trucks was one container that was permanently parked and it was called a "Trucker's Chapel".