Road Trip!

Alice and I made our way to Denver to spend some time with Kaitlin and Adam and to pick up the Holden Ute and drive it back to Seattle. We’d been looking forward to this – Alice mostly as she got to attend Kate’s Kindergarten class graduation and me mostly because I finally get to drive the Ute and take a special road trip.

We had fun hanging out with Adam and Kate. Denver always seems to have something happening. In this case it was the Chalk Art festival downtown. This was a much bigger event than I expected and some of the artwork was very impressive – even more so as they had to repair the works each afternoon following the inevitable rain shower and thunder storm.

I also managed to catch up a couple of former colleagues from myDIALS – always great to share stories and hear what people are up to now.

Catching up with Mark and Jeff from myDIALS

The Ute was ready and it truly was a very impressive job from Randy and John. Below are some before/after photos to show the amount of work that went into the conversion.

After a long weekend and a couple of quick runs to Wyoming and Rocky Mountain Park to ensure everything was working fine, Alice and I took off on our road trip.

The first stop was Albuquerque New Mexico, via Taos and Sante Fe. This is a nice drive and we stopped at Taos to enjoy lunch and check out a mission. Albuquerque is always fun and we stayed near old town so we could look around there. We also managed to have some great Mexican food and of course a good sampling of margaritas.

San Felipe de Neri Church in old town Albuquerque

From Albuquerque we traveled along the historic Route 66 across New Mexico and Arizona. I love the many stops and quaint / historic / weird artifacts that dot the landscape along the way. Alice got her wish to stay overnight in the Wigwam Motel. I’ve done this trip before and enjoy visiting Seligman, the birthplace of the Route 66 revival. Here we had breakfast at the Roadkill Cafe and was surprised to see both an Aussie flag and New Zealand flag taking pride of place (?) between the restrooms.

Aussie and New Zealand flags and some road signs – autographed!

We entered California and headed south to go through Joshua Tree National Park before staying in Palm Springs for a couple nights. It was hot here – above 100F – for early June. The air conditioning in the Ute worked like a charm and the temperature gauge never moved – thank you Randy! We stayed in a funky, historic hotel and enjoyed the pool, a local festival and the aerial tramway – it was 40F colder at the top than at the bottom, which was a great relief. At the hotel we were told we should smell the trees at the top and sure enough, they smelled like butterscotch.

Alice loved the Joshua trees
View from the top shows Palm Springs and the fault line

From Palm Springs we headed to the coast and up Highway 1 to San Simeon where we visited Hearst Castle. This is an amazing place full of artwork from all over the world, all with a rich history.

Hearst Castle is simply huge and amazing

Next up was continuing up Highway 1 and 101 along the coast through California and Oregon. This is a tremendous road, mostly two lanes, but a great driving experience with beautiful scenery. The Ute handled beautifully, and for the most part the slower drivers were very courteous and moved out of the way to let us pass.

Taking a break overlooking the Golden Gate

We spent the last night in Newport Oregon, and were entertained at dinner by a few sea lions who hadn’t yet departed to spend summer in San Francisco.

Pretty but sad as it’s our last day on the road

We finally made our way home to Seattle after a very satisfying road trip – the Ute ran flawlessly, we saw plenty of great sights, we stayed in nice places and we had several memorable meals.

Thanks again to John and Randy at Left Hand Utes for converting the Ute so well with such great attention to detail.

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