Best of the Road, 2011

We've been on the road for a week now, and finally reached our destination. Well, not quite. But we will stay put in UT for a few more days, until we start our summer work in WY.

We decided to stay in different towns this year. The reasoning was: where can we get a good cup of joe; good, or at least decent, food; and a place to climb?

You would think that big cities would be the obvious choice. But their size makes them prohibitive in terms of accessibility and cost. First of all, it takes forever to get to whatever overpriced hotel you've chosen. You have to deal with traffic, and God-forbid you make a wrong turn, you are in for some fun. When you finally arrive at the hotel, you need to pay for valet, garage, or leave the car in the street praying for it not to get broken into. And the dog?... say no more. Food. Yes, it'd be great to eat good food, but try dragging the kids to a restaurant after siting in the car all day. All they want to do is hit the hotel pool, so you might as well save your precious dollars for gas and/or the optional anniversary dinner. Climbing gyms... sigh... cities include, but are not limited to: Chicago, Kansas City, Nashville, Denver, Cleveland... all with bad traffic, crummy downtown hotels, and overpriced meals...

We decided to go for small college towns. Our route is: Jacksonville FL, to Park City UT.

First day. We needed to stop by Washington D.C, so we made that our first stop. A long day. We had our son make us sandwiches the previous day, so we did not have to stop except for gas. He made us sandwiches on Ciabatta, a nice change from the usual whole wheat dull sandwich bread. Each one came with a personal note to the eater as well, quite entertaining. Dinner with family... no time to climb...

Second stop was Indianapolis. We stayed at La Quinta... they allow dogs. I looked, and found, one close to a Whole Foods, which turned out to be in the university area and close to a climbing gym as well. The plan was, get to the hotel, grab some food, head to the gym. Didn't quite work out that way. My daughter insisted on swimming at the lovely La Quinta pool, so by the time that exciting, chock-full of chlorine activity was over with, there was only enough time to run to WF. But at least we were able to buy dinner, breakfast, lunches for the next day, and some much needed beer.

Third stop was Lincoln, NE. Again, La Quinta. For dinner, we found a joint called Yia Yia's. It had good pizza, great beer on draft, and a pool table. The only strange thing about that place was that the pizza came with chunks of bread on top of it, in case we needed some bread to go with the pizza? Other than that, it was a great stop for everyone. No climbing... apparently the university gym was being used for some tournament... next day we headed over to the Coffee House for a good brew, croissants, and wraps from Maggie's for lunch. I have to say, Maggie's may be all organic, but their hummus truly sucks. I had had it years ago, so enough time had elapsed that I decided to try it again, since it seemed more appetizing to me than the tempeh/ tofu sandwiches. At least it was organic.

Fourth and last stop: Laramie, WY. We planned the whole trip around this stop. The goal: Coal Creek Coffee. Their coffee is incredible, and so are their pastries... what a great way to start the day. For dinner, we went to Sweet Melissa's. It was great, and cheap as well. I've heard people describe their fare as ''vegetarian comfort food''... big portions, great beer on tap. Climbing... could not enter the university gym unless you were a student, or a student's guest...

Well, the climbing part was a definite flop; but coffee, beer, and food... we had a great experience in all the towns.

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