The Great West Coast Tour - Day Three - Black Hawk, CO

The Great West Coast Tour - Day Three - Black Hawk, CO

Editor’s Note: Post includes video. Watch on website for best experience.

For June 21, the longest day off the year, the plan was to have our longest drive of the trip; leaving The Chan Clan by 7 a.m., arriving at college friends C & K’s home after dinner to settle in for two nights in Palisades, CO.

Plan alterations began immediately when an intense thunderstorm moved over Kansas City right around 7 a.m. We were packed up, ready to load, but instead got to enjoy an extra 90 minutes visiting with Gina and Todd.

We finally hugged goodbye and jumped in the van.

8:30 a.m. – on the road.

9:30 – restroom break

10 a.m. – restroom break

11:10 – restroom break

12:45 – restroom break

We were only halfway across Kansas.

The rest stops do provide historical information.

Kansas is 400 miles across.

More intense thunderstorms began after that last rest stop.

On the drive to Kansas City, everyone sat in back while I chauffeured them. On this part of the journey Buddie rode up front with me to help with navigation, which I so appreciated.

Not a lot of conversation back there.

When we were poking along on the interstate at 30 mph, it was a relief to have him next to me.

I don’t mind driving in heavy rain, but driving across flat, big sky country where you can see the storm rumbling toward you and the whole world seems gray as the massive cloud settles in above your head, that’s a different intensity.

After the storm broke we returned to normal speed and kept eating up the miles.

Kansas uses those wide, windy spaces for wind turbines. They are elegant, yet imposing.

The interstate speed limit across Kansas and Colorado is 75 and in the new van that felt comfortable.

We finally crossed into Colorado in the afternoon, and the elevation increase began, though the landscape stayed flat and wide-open for awhile longer.

The van has an elevation gauge so Buds kept us informed as we climbed toward the Mile-High City.

Shortly thereafter, the Colorado storm began to build.

(Editor’s Note: The above was written when we were in Colorado. The rest of this is being written as I sit at our kitchen table, one month after the events happened. Hence, I get to make up whatever I want!)

On “this side” of the Rocky Mountains, we drove through rain and hail.

Yes. Hail.

Until the weather got difficult, we had been having a lovely drive.

Buds found a delicious hamburger joint for our dinner after we had gotten through Denver and I told him I really would prefer to stop for the night somewhere on “this” side of the Rockies.

Not only was I tired of the rainy, gray weather, I wanted to drive through the mountains in the sunlight so the children could enjoy the beauty, too.

Being the fantastic partner that he is, he found us a hotel room in Black Hawk, CO. Black Hawk is tucked away a valley, and the drive to get there was gorgeous.

It took another hour to drive there, and then the fun really began.

1) We hadn’t realized that we were staying in a casino. Not a big deal for us ethically, but when we realized we couldn’t walk through the casino with the children to get to our hotel room, things got interesting.

2) Before we even began the quest to get our things and ourselves to our hotel room, first we had to get checked in. The children decided to hang out in the toasty warm car in the parking garage while Buds and I went down to check us in. As we parked the car, we heard a huge crack.

“Was that thunder and lightning?” someone asked.

“Not sure,” was the general response.

It was lightning.

We discovered this when we got to the lobby and learned the hotel computers had just been blown out by said lightning and it would take a bit to get them back online.

3) That problem eventually solved, we took our room keys, loaded up the luggage cart with our luggage and crew, and headed for our room.

We learned we couldn’t walk through the casino with children, so we decided Buds would take the luggage cart with all our possessions through the casino, and we’d meet him in the room after the children and I walked around to get to the room.

These both seem like relatively straight-forward propositions, right?

What followed was a comedic sketch for the children and me as we tried to dodge and weave our way to take the route to our room we believed to be the way, only to get stuck in the hotel stairwell. It turned out we were actually housed in an adjacent hotel, and our room key would not allow us access to get out of the stairwell.

While we were running around with our Laurel and Hardy routine in the stairwell, Buds discovered that due to hotel renovations, there was no elevator to get to the correct hotel where our room was located, neither was there a ramp. He could go outside in the rain, or he could somehow navigate an escalator with a luggage cart, or he could leave our worldly possessions while he ran the luggage cart around to the top of the escalator, then he could run the worldly possessions up and down the escalator.

When we all eventually met back in our hotel room, he looked at us wryly after we had described our escapades and said, “You walked right by the pile of all our stuff at the bottom of the escalator.”

Then we all collapsed in exhausted laughter onto a bed.

The next morning we saw this, and it described the entire experience:


We loaded up the van, made sure to not lose sight of each other as we exited the casino hotel, and headed off over the mountains.

So long Black Hawk, hello snowy mountains.

Onward to Day Four!