Travel

My amazing road trip: From Florida to Colorado

July 2022 – Hello friends! 2022 marks the third year since I started blogging, full of memories and full of coffee. Life has been hectic, but here I have another story to share with all of you.

I’ve been living in Florida since 2001, and I barely had visited other states around the American country. Before that, I lived in Puerto Rico and my only trip outside the island was to visit Disney World in 2000. Our first trip, once we moved, was a road trip. We drove north on the Interstate 95 road, trying to find a spot where there was snow- with no luck. We drove through Georgia and South Carolina. Yes, before this trip, I had never seen snow.

Here is the story of my recent amazing road trip: in 2021 we drove from Florida to Colorado! How did we go on such a crazy trip? Before this trip, our count of visited states was 8: Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas and Texas.

Some of my trips have almost ended in disaster, but had turned out to be amazing experiences. This one almost turned into a disaster, but it was an amazing experience, one that I already want to repeat. My family? Not so fast, Mom.

I’ve been wanting to go visit Colorado for a while. I’ve met really nice people on social media, mainly on Twitter, who live there -my friends Sam, Ramona, Lauralyn and Erin, among others. They’re always sharing lovely pictures of spectacular scenery, especially of the mountains and of snow everywhere. I grew up in the mountainous area of Puerto Rico. There are no mountains or snow here in Florida. The closest state where we could go see mountains and snow is in Georgia.

One of those good people I’ve met on social media is my good friend Sam. He talks and talks about how amazing and beautiful Colorado is.

Reddish soil on a mountain near
Estes Park, Colorado

Let me tell you about this colorful state, before I tell you about the trip. Colorado is a Spanish word that means colored, or of color. It also means of red color, or colored red. If you’ve been to Colorado, you can see most of the mountains have a beautiful red tone. In Puerto Rico, we call red haired people “colorao” or “colorado”.

Colorado is located in the mid-west area of the United States, and is neighbor of 7 other states! Wyoming is to the north, Utah to the west, Kansas to the east, and New Mexico to the south. Nebraska is to the northeast side, Oklahoma is also on its south, and Arizona is on the southwest corner.

Many Native tribes used to lived in the area, becoming helpers for explorers and traders. United States acquired the territory from France in 1803 as part of what is known as “the Louisiana Purchase”, but no settlers moved to the area. In the 1840’s, Spanish settlers displaced the Natives, despite their battles. It wasn’t until the 1850’s, after the Mexican American war, that American settlers came around on their way to Oregon and California. Many of them stayed, looking for gold and silver. They had to fight Natives, who were eventually displaced to reservations areas. It became the state number 38 in 1876. For more information, visit Colorado.gov/state-information.

An interesting fact about Colorado is that it’s one of four states that meet in one spot. The Four Corners Monument is the only place in the country where four states meet, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah. The spot is at the southwest region of the state, and there’s a landmark for each state. Yes, my youngest son wanted to go see it. But we were on the east side, near Denver. Too far to drive there.

Another interesting fact is that the city of Denver is called “The Mile High City” because it sits a mile high in altitude, an elevation of 5,280 feet above sea level. Colorado is home to the NBA Denver Nuggets, the MLB Colorado Rockies, and the NFL Denver Broncos.

I wanted to visit the Rocky Mountains National Park. Besides wanting to see the mountains, there was something I was curious about and I wanted to check in person. I had asked my friend Sam if this was true: is there snow at the top of those mountains during summertime? And he told me that it was true. Because of the altitude and coldness, snow lasts longer on those peak tops. I said I have to see it in person. Since we haven’t been able to travel north during winter, we hadn’t seen a snowfall or snow cover the ground.

I looked at my office’s time-off calendar. No one had requested the week of the 4th of July. I decided to ask for it, no plans yet, and it was approved. Great! On to make a plans. I had a crazy idea. I just needed to convince the guys. I immediately knew where I wanted to go: Colorado. They thought I was crazy.

There is always traffic around Atlanta, Georgia

The road traffic during summer gets busy, national parks get busy, but I figured we could use a trip to see new places. Since the trip directly to Colorado would take about 30 hours of driving, I planned on driving about 15 hours North, where I reserved a hotel to stay the night. Then, we were to drive about 15 hours West. I reserved another hotel for 4 days/3 nights in Colorado.

We started our trip on Saturday, July 3rd. First slow down? The rental car was not ready. Because of this, we had to wait for the agent to check if there was another car ready. Change made, and we received a no-charge upgrade to our reservation. Thank you, Enterprise. Second slow down? Kids. Well, my kids are young adults now, but to me they still act like kids. We had to do stops for gas, food and restrooms. When you have kids -no matter their ages-, it turns into extra stops, not scheduled, delaying the travel time.

We drove all day, and went across 5 states: Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, and finally Illinois. We started seeing mountains as we drove past Atlanta, Georgia! Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to stop and explore on this first day.

Sunset view driving across Tennessee

The sunset views while passing Tennessee were breathtaking. There is a loop that took us from Interstate (I)-75 to I-24, where we crossed into Tennessee, then back to Georgia, then back to Tennessee. We found it curious. We also crossed over the Tennessee river and the Ohio river. We crossed into Kentucky at night, so we only did a quick stop. My youngest actually suggested we deviate a little from our route, to pass by Ohio, but we were already running two hours behind, and we were tired. It was a good day, and we made it to our hotel in Salem, Illinois.

On Sunday July 4th, we started our drive a bit late. Yes, we had a few slow downs: finding a place to eat, finding a gas station, and finding our route. It was time to drive west across 3 more states: Missouri, Kansas, and Colorado. We drove into Missouri, crossing the river of the same name. We wanted to see the MLB Cardinals’ Busch stadium, so we stopped in Saint Louis. We received an unexpected souvenir: we got a parking ticket for parking at an unmarked spot, but we were supposed to pay and grab a stub at a meter that we didn’t see.

Gateway Arch in St Louis, Missouri

We got to see the Gateway Arch monument. There’s a museum, but we didn’t go in. The arch represents the expansion of America into the Western region. For more information, visit Gateway Arch website.

We then drove across the state, and passed by the MLB Royals’ Kauffman stadium in Kansas City. The NFL Chiefs’ Arrowhead stadium is nearby. We couldn’t stop as we wanted to, because we were already running late. We then drove (a long drive according to all of us) across the state of Kansas. It seems that the route we chose there wasn’t much to see, because we only saw grass and grass and more grass. When we were almost in Colorado, we did see wind turbines. Lights and poles were everywhere on both sides of the road. We finally made it to Colorado.

Windmill farm in Kansas

On Monday, July 5th, after we rested, we visited Denver. Since I was traveling with my family, sports fans, our main locations to visit were the sports venues. We walked around the downtown area, and visited the MLB Rockies’ Coors Field stadium, and the NBA Denver Nuggets Ball Arena. Then, we drove by the NFL Denver Broncos Empower Field at Mile High Stadium and went back to the hotel. The views from our hotel were also stunning.

We are sports fans.

On Tuesday, July 6th, we headed to the Rocky Mountains! Because of the many visitors they get during summertime, I had to make a reservation online. Reservations are only allowed to be made 24 hours before visiting. On the way there, we drove through Loveland. My son saw a sign on Interstate 25 road with a message that Wyoming was one hour away. He tried to convince us to go there. Well, we didn’t.

We also drove through Estes Park, and were amazed with the views -the mountains, the river, and the beautiful cabins we saw along the way. We had an amazing time, with the exception of a couple of anxiety incidents (not mine, I promise). We saw wild animals, we drove around the park, and we did get to see snow! I’ll tell you more in another post. A visit to the Rocky Mountains deserve its own post.

On Wednesday, July 7th, my youngest woke up with a stomach ache, so we couldn’t go explore too far as we wanted to. We drove around the town where we were staying at, Brighton. We found a great Mexican restaurant. I had planned to possibly see my friends Ramona and Sam on this day, but she was out of town, and he was sick.

Picture on left is actual size of the mark that sits on top of a pole (it’s on private land)

On Thursday, July 8th, we started our drive back. Well, Colorado is on Mountain time zone, so we were two hours behind our regular eastern time zone. We drove South on I-25, passing Denver and Colorado Springs, until we reached New Mexico. Here, my son suggested we should drive east to Oklahoma. He wanted to see a tri-state mark, where New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas meet. Mostly, he wanted the Google GPS lady voice to say “welcome to Oklahoma”. From Oklahoma, we went through Texas, and finally made it to Louisiana. Another long, exhausting drive, but a good day overall.

For our trip back, we planned on staying one night at my sister in law’s house in Louisiana, before heading back to Florida. Before arriving to Louisiana, my sister in law called me to notify me that she had symptoms associated with Covid-19 virus, so until she had results for her test, we shouldn’t come to her house. I had to find a hotel where to stay that night. We were exhausted. But, we had just added 2 new states to our list: New Mexico and Oklahoma.

On Friday, July 9th, we were headed to Florida. We forgot one minor detail: traveling on a Friday means bad traffic everywhere! Plus, it was raining through half of our way. We had been on this route before, but we did a couple of detours to try the food at What-a-Burger, Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers place (yes, pleasing the riders), and to visit a very busy Buc-ee’s store, too busy and too big for our liking.

There are many places to see that we didn’t get to visit. We visited 14 states: Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. We couldn’t stop to enjoy all of these states, but we drove by them. We now have been to 16 states! We are only missing 34 of 50 in total.

Hopefully we can visit some of those places again, and, of course, visit new places soon. There’s always time to dream of the next adventure. As always, thank you for reading! Time for my tacita de café. Salud!

Para versión en Español, vea Fullofcoffeeblog.com/mi-increible-viaje-por-carretera-de-florida-a-colorado

I'm a Puerto Rican living in Florida. Mom, Blogger, and Writer! Fan of coffee, baseball, books, sweet romance novels and Hallmark movies, and of course, my beautiful Puerto Rico.

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