667 Miles for Oatmeal

I’m not sure if we’re crazy, but we basically just drove 667 miles roundtrip for oatmeal.

I may be grossly oversimplifying the situation. But we did go to Fort Collins, Colorado for a quick weekend getaway in order to stock up on essentials from Trader Joe’s. And it’s the second time we’ve done so this year. But this time, we had a brand new standalone freezer to fill. So, we threw a couple of coolers into the back of the Mazda and headed out Saturday morning, bright and early.

There was no snow and ice to deal with this time, as there had been in March, but the first third of the trip was foggy. By the time we reached Lusk—the first real town of any substance along that stretch of Wyoming—the clouds had broken up. Lusk seems like a charming place, complete with a historic main street and a stagecoach museum. One of these days we’re going to spend a little time there checking it out.

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We reached Fort Collins at 1:00 and naturally, our first stop was Raising Cane’s for chicken fingers. Afterwards, we hit a couple of local liquor stores, stocking up on ciders and sour beers—items that are harder to find in Rapid City. We hit the jackpot and scooped up some Wild Roots vodka from one place. Thanks for the tip, dad!

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Colorado sunflowers.

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Colorado is beautiful, but browner than South Dakota.

Last time we’d picked a motel a few miles from downtown, but we stayed at a Best Western in the university district less than a mile’s walk from Old Town. This was a much better location and it had a pool, so we took advantage and went swimming before heading out for dinner. We enjoyed the Crown Pub so much last time, we went there again. Killed a couple of hours with good food and drinks, then walked back to our motel, stopping by a couple of funky places along the way.

Fort Collins definitely has a Portland vibe, and there was even an event called Tour de Fat in which people dress up in costumes and ride fat-tire bikes downtown. The locals warned it was pretty outlandish, but it was tame by Portland standards. Translation: no naked people.

Sunday morning, we decided to drive up to Estes Park, a mere hour away. It’s the site of the famous Stanley Hotel, Stephen King’s inspiration for The Shining. Absolutely beautiful drive, and its location at 7,500′ in the Rocky Mountains is breathtaking. We grabbed breakfast and Bloody Marys and wandered through an arts festival before heading back. I would have loved to spend more time checking out Estes Park, but we still had to stop by Trader Joe’s in Fort Collins and drive the 5.5 hours back home. Tara and I have decided to book a room at the Stanley for our anniversary next September.

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The road to Estes Park.

Got back to town and loaded up two shopping carts’ worth of stuff from Trader Joe’s. This included seven boxes of steel cut oatmeal, six boxes of bird’s nest vegetable appetizers, four boxes of chile lime chicken burgers, and an assortment of soup dumplings, Chinese buns, ginger soy cod, etc. Not to mention the 14 packages of dark chocolate peanut butter cups, but in all fairness, most of those are going to Tara’s coworkers, who all placed orders with her in advance.

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We came. We saw. We loaded up our carts.

We had one last stop before finally heading home: Ridley’s grocery store, where we purchased half a dozen packages of the Basque chorizo we love so much. It wasn’t until 2:00 before we began the long trek back, arriving home around 7:30. All in all it was a fun, if expensive, getaway—but now we are fully stocked for at least six months.

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Long but uneventful drive back through Wyoming.

Super thankful that today is Labor Day. It gives us a day to recover before heading back to work. We plan to do not a whole lot other than grill ribeye steaks and enjoy Bloody Marys. It’s supposed to hit 91 today, which will ironically make this one of the warmest days of the summer. Fortunately, it’s only a one-day heatwave. Next weekend looks downright cool.

Bring on fall!

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7 thoughts on “667 Miles for Oatmeal

  1. You guys have so much fun. How did you spend the long drive keeping yourselves entertained? I admit I have never had steel-cut oatmeal. There is a TJ’s far far closer to me, but I rarely go. [For shame. I’m so sorry.] I may have to make a point to stop in for oatmeal.

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  2. Well, you know how much I LOVE and frequent Trader Joe’s; therefore, I totally understand why you would travel 677 miles (both ways) to stock up.

    Mark, all of these photographs are faaaaabulous, however, my favorite is the first one of the Welcome to Wyoming sign because it literally looks like a drawing/painting. It’s freaking gorgeous! Well done!

    Love the sunflowers as well! The funky places along the way are so cool-looking. We have Insomnia Cookies here in Philly as well. In fact, there are FOUR just in the area that I live. Philly is a college town, so they need all-night cookie stores so that the students can stay up and study after they’ve partied and puked. LOL!.

    The shot of the road to Estes Park is exquisite. What a spectacular view!

    HA! Love the pic of your filled grocery cart! And you’re right, at least you’re fully stocked for the next six months.

    Hope you and Tara had a great Labor Day! It rained here the entire day and was so damn humid.

    “Bring on fall!”

    Couldn’t agree with you more! God, I can’t wait for the day when I can wear a jacket.

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    • When we crossed the Wyoming border it was super foggy. The sun had just broken out in the distance and I think that leant the whole scene an ethereal look. Glad you liked that one!

      I had no idea Insomnia Cookies was a chain, but I see Bijoux also has them in her town. She must also live near a hotbed of drunken college activity, lol. Hope your Labor Day was relaxing. Fall is almost here!

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  3. And to think I bitch about my 55 mike round trip to TJ. Need to get back again because . . . Pumpkin spice!!! All your photos are lovely. We have Canes, Insomnia, and the Peace Love here but boy, do I want to have that pub! Looks so fun!

    On a side note, we have been so impressed by Best Westerns the past few years. Clean, modern and affordable. And the only place I can get a senior discount cuz they start at 55!

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    • We were hoping to pick up the pumpkin spice waffles TJs releases seasonally, but sadly, they weren’t available yet. I bet they come out this week. NO, we are not making a return trip anytime soon!

      I am surprised to learn that both Insomnia Cookies and the Peace Love donuts are chains. Too bad—we thought we had discovered a couple of quaint little local spots. Reminds me of the time I went to Spokane and wrote about discovering a great local sandwich shop called Jimmy John’s. I still have not lived that one down yet.

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      • LOL!!!!

        And according to my daughter and SIL, Insomnia Cookies are quite popular with the hospital night shift.

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