Road Trip III: Denver to Death Valley // Travel
I thought the trip might lose its magic the third time around. Especially with the pandemic. But it didn't. There are still these moments. I can focus on what's happening right before my eyes. My worries disappear. Time feels as if it slows down.
It’s perfect. Even if just for a second. You want Cooper in the shot? Come here...
Welcome to our living room, we're going to tell you about our vacation. This is the third road trip, our first road trip... February of 2017. We had jokingly found a music festival in Tucson Arizona called Gem and Jam. Then in 2019 we went on road trip 2 driving down from Washington state to California, but we started with the music festival. Road trip
3 ... covid. So we planned a socially distanced vacation. But with that void kind of ever-present it was important for us to try to find additional things to work into the road trip to making it meaningful, because it was really trying to find a way to put a spark of adventure and joy in a year where that's been really tough to find and on top of it try to push that towards people that we care about. My brother had never been really out to the western states at all. Queue Nathan and Shannon. So we left on a Thursday and took an early flight out to Denver, got to watch the sunrise in the plane which was pretty cool. It was made cooler by the fact that
Nathan has not flown a lot so this is all pretty new to him. Worth noting that lauren made itinerary? itineraries? Yea itineraries for every day. They have the areas for every day, they're pretty amazing, you're gonna see a shot of one later in the video. So Nathan and Shannon had no idea what they were doing until each day. Nathan didn't know where we were going i think until the day before, so these itineraries kind of had gaps where they had previously answered these cryptic questions that we'd asked them then we texted them at like midnight every night, which they had unknowingly planned portions of the trip and this was the reveal of what they had planned. About a week before I called this Voodoo Donut's place and made like a $40 doughnut order that was epic, we had no idea what we were getting into.
We hit up a brewery and then went to the hot springs, these are naturally fed hot springs which is pretty cool. The water is supposed to be good for your skin, it has minerals and what-not although it kind of dried us out I think. It was very pretty though it's got fiddle leaf fig trees and banana trees and basically all the tropical everything that you could ask for in a very cold Colorado. Yeah it was nice to take a warm swim during the winter time, it was our first time in a hot springs like that. We then went to Colorado Saki Company which we learned is 1 of 11 international sake houses that meet some sort of standard of in-house sake quality, I'm not sure exactly, but this nice Australian lady was the owner and she took good care of us. We accidentally ordered way too much Sake, get a half pour if you do the tasting.
The escape room here was bartender themed, after we had just been at the sake bar aaaand turns out we smashed it, we got a record. We did, we got a record which was awesome. It's always nervous going into escape room with Nathan because Nathan's just the legend of escape rooms. I know that Nathan's mood for the next
24 hours will be based nearly solely on if we escape the room or not. We stayed at a cute air airbnb, we did a lot of airbnbs we thought that might be a little safer. We went to Garden of the Gods which Lauren has been to three times now, this is my second time, still pretty glorious. We took the middle trail through the park when we were there. It basically shows off all of the rock features throughout the park. It's a fairly easy hike in my opinion, yeah you gotta hike around, it's not very much hiking but it's cool to get up there.
This is one of those parks that the trails are more concise, as in there are a lot of parks that we went to and you'll see on here that kind of allow you to wander off trail, it's more encouraged because there are really no trails there but this one is very specific about the places [that you hike]. But it was fun, Nathan and Shannon had never been here of course. So it was kind of fun to get goofy and run around. It's nice to stretch the legs, Garden of the Gods is good though for things like rock climbing, they issue climbing permits and have different sections of the park that are kind of in place specifically to just allow you to scramble. You can actually see Pikes Peak from Garden of the Gods which is pretty cool because we headed there next. I feel like there's a lot of shots of Shannon approving the food *laughs* there are.
This is Lauren and I's second attempt at Pikes Peak, on road trip one we tried to go up and there was a road closure because of the weather, which I guess happens quite frequently. That makes sense after driving up it, I completely understand, you would not want to drive up it with too much snow on the road because there's some exposure. As per tradition Zach drove up and I drove down.
Yep. Safer that way. What? The aggressive driver drives up, and the safer driver drives down. You don't want anyone going too fast on the way down... So there were only two hang-ups on our way to Pike's Peak. One, of course was the construction
at the top, which i'm sure after it's done can be amazing yeah, but you won't see any footage from up top because it's definitely a construction site currently. That should be done in a year or two. The second was altitude sickness. So it's like 14,000 feet or is around there, I can't remember but it's high enough that you might get lightheaded. Yeah I think Nathan was the only one that really got lightheaded and as we came down he got better. That's true. You could see for miles. It was gorgeous. Yeah that was special. So we hopped out of the car for a little bit and kind of kept falling into these little pockets of snow, which was hilarious because it's like kind of icy on top, but then snowy beneath, so if you break through that ice then you'll fall like a foot into it. Which was hilarious.
Oh then we stopped and kind of scrambled up there. It's actually called the Boulder Trail? Yeah there was a tiny trail off to the side so we we went up that of course, took some more goofy photos, watched the sun set a little bit more and determined that we needed to head out and get some dinner. This spot is unique because that is where we have our classic car photo. Yeah my old Volkswagen on road trip one, it was a beast. Colorado Springs actually has several natural springs in the area so they actually have a kind of a walking trail that connects you to several of these springs where you can see the natural spring water and some of them are carbonated, this one was maybe the slightest *sarcasm* bit carbonated.
And then the next day we were headed towards Alamosa to rent sand boards and go to Great Sand Dunes National Park. Yeah you can actually sandboard on the dunes. Naturally as soon as we got into sand dunes we realized we forgot the boardwax and had to walk back to the car. It's really interesting how big the dunes are but you don't realize how big they are. When you see somebody on the dunes they are like a black speck in infinity and then you walk like a mile and they're still like an ant and you just keep walking and walking and walking so we'd actually hiked nine miles that day. I can't remember what our elevation gain was, like a couple thousand feet? But either way it was exhausting we all ended up ditching our shoes because sand was everywhere and we decided to take the most direct route up the dunes in hopes of saving time which completely backfired. Yeah if you're going for speed hiking up a sand dune we actually learned that you should do switchbacks up, well not even the steepest part, just go to the most shallow uphill spot you can otherwise the sand dunes will turn into a treadmill which is absolutely what happened to us.
It's crazy how much energy you can use on going up a short steep sand sandy hill. We kind of tested the board as we went up on smaller hills. I think we all picked it up pretty quick. We did, Nathan is really the only one that did board sports previous to this so of course Nathan was the rock star.
My difficulty was trying to keep the board straight, maybe I leaned back too much but I kept just twisting. That's the thing i couldn't get a hang of. I'd say it's a lot like snowboarding, yea? I've never been snowboarding this is the first time I've ever done a board. It felt a lot like snowboarding to me because I think that was my issue with snowboarding as well as that I kept getting turned around.
We drive way too long without food and then stopped at a winery got a sip of wine and then I don't know if this is fast food? El Parasol? I don't know it was super good. They made... Navajo bread I think? It's very good. Yeah, we were starved but it definitely hit the spot. And our last day was Albuquerque, well last day with Nathan and Shannon. Yeah I'm glad that we didn't actually show any of these itineraries because that one was just a straight lie.
Essentially everything in Albuquerque was closed. Yeah Albuquerque disappointed a bit. Our main thing was trying to go and see the musical road that no longer exists [apparently]. Yeah they paved over the singing road. I was disappointed. And then Lauren and I did what we do best... drive insane distances. *Laughs* That's true.
Yep so the first place we stopped was El Malpais, we went specifically for La Ventura Arch, so if you route to the visitor center then you have to drive like another hour or 40 minutes. Like an hour and a half round trip, right? So be careful with that. After that we pretty much just drove into the night and got a little Airbnb and then went to Monument Valley, the park itself is closed but you can really see most of it from the road. We did not [need to] get out of the car much. Forest Gump Point it's actually called that, at least on the Roadtrippers App. [Promo code in description]. Yeah this is the classic view, I don't know if it's entrance or exit really depending on which way you're going. There was some really good art all along the Utah/Arizona border.
It was kind of a reminder of how hard Navajo Nation was hit by covid. It was cool to see the art, but also you know, you wish it was different. Absolutely. Yeah there you go. You can see him standing directly in front of Horseshoe Bend. Turns out this day was fried chicken day. We got fried chicken twice [that day]. Yes, we accidentally had themed days, I gotta say Champs Chicken was actually really good. We had it at like seven in the morning at Monument Valley and ... covid, so ate in the car.
The entrance in the Zion was beautiful because it was sunset when we drove in, oh man it might be my new favorite national park. I don't blame you. Previously [was] Grand Canyon, this might be my favorite. Zion is amazing. Because it was winter we somehow again just got extremely lucky, there wasn't bad weather, the hiking was gorgeous, and thankfully there was really almost no one there. Kind of worked out in our favor. They had mule deer [out West]. They look like deer [out East] except they have big ears, that's really like the only difference. Their tails are different. *Laughs* Yea, the tails
too. We did three hikes in Zion, we did Canyon Overlook and then Observation Point and then Lauren is pointing down to Angel’s Landing there, which was the third one we attempted. This is kind of going around the ridge of Angel's Landing. This was my test of my fear of heights that we do every road trip. The first road trip it was the Grand Canyon, the second road trip we went skydiving and this was the third.
So at about this point... There's a lot of exposure to your right, but where that guy is, the exposure opens up on your left as well. I completely freaked out. He did fine. I freaked out a lot and then I realized my shoes weren't that grippy and we had to turn around, Lauren could have easily done it but if you're scared of heights then it is very real. You'll find out really fast if you can do it. Yeah it won't it won't take long, you likely are not going to get trapped too far out to get back if you're truly scared of heights, I don't think you’ll hike up to that [tough to get back] point.
I would say the hike is short but strenuous. It was a great hike, it was good exercise. So we ended the day with 13 miles of hiking which was pretty cool. We did not plan to do 13 miles hiking that day, but we just kept going. We got a shower midday [which helped]. Then we drove to Vegas to just sleep this night. Stayed at Circus Circus, you got anything to
say about Circus Circus? No. Circus Circus, uh, was probably a cool hotel at some point. Circus Circus has a great entrance for instagram. Yeah the lights are very cool. I was just trying to be nice to Circus. I guess i'm gonna give it a thumbs down. The wall outlet was a huge electrical hazard. Yeah that was pretty bad.
Also it was kind of on the edge of the ghetto. No it overlooked the ghetto ... *laughs* I see what you're saying. Electrolyte beverage, yeah we decided we should be sponsored by Electrolit ... oh I don't know how to pronounce it but i hope it's electro-lit i hope so badly it's electro-lit because that would be hilarious, especially considering that we used one of the Electrolit bottles to eventually house the leftover sake. This one was particularly difficult. Yeah we were pretty worried about taking the rental vehicle so far off-road, into well *interrupts* it wasn't off-road *sarcasm* they looked like this to clarify yeah. Definitely not off-road, we definitely wouldn't have took the rental
car off-road *sarcasm*. I try to make it a point to always pick up trash, one piece of trash as I leave wherever we are. I don't know why people throw trash out there, come on guys, but yeah feels good [to pickup].
So the Goldwell art museum actually started with the first image. Oh my *laughs* Like that tells them anything. Here is Death Valley, it's a National Park in California. So Corkscrew Peak, you can see into Badwater Basin from Corkscrew Peak’s base. We didn't get very far up before sunset unfortunately, but it still turned out to be beautiful. Really cool spot.
Then we woke up for sunrise on Badwater Basin. Death Valley I think is probably, if not, my favorite national park in the US. Because of the strange diversity, I mean it's not like normal diversity where you're seeing different trees and things like that. Wasn't diversity an old wooden ship? The different rocks and sand and yeah it's i mean it's it's crazy how much it varies just even a mile apart. So that little white point up there is where sea level is, which is pretty cool you are literally below sea level. Artist Palette is one of those places that's supposed to be the most beautiful after a rain so we weren't really going there expecting too much out of it. We were kind of expecting it to be
dull but I think it was gorgeous. It was still really cool. The camera definitely doesn’t it just I’ve. All of the different colors streaked through, what feels like a slot canyon, is amazing. This is a Zabriske Point, pretty cool little hiking trails around there, it just looks unreal. We went to see the pupfish only to realize you can't actually see the pupfish from devil's hole, which is good for the pupfish of course yeah. My goal is to get in there. Lauren does scuba.
I surprised Lauren with a helicopter tour. We got this really cool pilot named Justin and he was the chillest guy. He'd have to be. This was one of two major helicopter tours places i could find. This one had smaller helicopters, it was like three people I think. So i paid a little extra to get a private tour which was two people in this case rather than the three. And then it was only a little extra to get the doors off, so I was like “why not, that's awesome”.
A good tip that I read online that is that if you want the better view on most of these helicopter tours of Vegas is [to sit] on the left side because for whatever reason they always fly counterclockwise around the city, assuming that is because there's I guess multiple helicopters at once sometimes or maybe it's air traffic control stuff? Flight patterns? I don't know but they were correct on that so I put lauren on the left side. Now this was the last hike yeah, we didn't take the rental car off road at all to get there *sarcasm*. This was some black diamond hike we found. A black diamond,
you didn't tell me!? I figured we'd get saucy and try try a challenging one first. With it being winter time the days were kind of short though so we got we got a little cut off. We figure we'll go back and hike Mack’s Point and Corkscrew. Exactly. We figured our social distanced activity that we could do in Vegas was to just kind of walk around the strip. We stayed at the Paris Hotel they somehow have some link to the High Roller,
which is, I don't even know you call it. It's like a ferris wheel but it's enclosed. It was really cool they actually cleaned the whole thing in between people going in there. It was amazing. I mean it was a fantastic setup, it turned out to be awesome and kind of turned out to be the takeaway of the trip for me and why I'm glad I traveled during covid even though it was tricky, because I can't imagine something like this ever happening again. We got these tickets on a whim from staying at this hotel,
and then chose to go there because we knew that it was socially distanced, and got to share the view of the city in one of these things by ourselves. It was awesome to end the trip on that. Then yeah, woke up and scrambled to the airport and flew back. Thanks for watching. That was a pretty lengthy one, lengthiest one I’ve ever made. See you next time on our next adventure. Cooper, you want to wave goodbye?