284 miles to the nearest Starbucks. That’s what my GPS said as I hit the road fuzzy-eyed after camping out in the middle of Southern Utah. I would have better luck getting a cup of coffee on the moon. Utah truly is the land that caffeine forgot.
Let me back up a second. Monique and I had hit the road not so much for a photography road trip, as my annual pilgrimage to Colorado for the freestyle kayaking competition circuit. First stop, the legendary Teva Mountain Games at 8200 feet in Vail, Colorado.
On our way out, we decided to take the loneliest highway, highway 50, partly because I hate traffic, but mostly because it is cool and quirky. There were a million things I would have loved to spend time photographing, but we only had two days to get to Vail, so that will wait for another trip. We stopped in Ely, NV, for lunch, where I discovered that Bell Telephone actually becomes the Empire and invents the Death Star. It’s right there on a mural painted on their office wall.
Next we found a great hotsprings near the town of Meadow, UT. Giant hot pools with an underground cave. Unfortunately, we had to spend about an hour in the wee hours of the morning cleaning up after the locals, but then we had the place to ourselves and really relaxed. It was after this energy sapping soak in hot mineral water that I really needed my coffee. Alas, we had to wait to Colorado. A whole state away for coffee!
Once in Colorado, we high-tailed it to the town of Vail, home to the famous ski resort of the same name. The Teva Mountain Games are huge. The creek where we were competing, however was very small. Small, ice cold and did I mention at 8200 feet? Nevertheless, I had some good rides between gasps for oxygen and made the semi-finals in my first appearance there. I was happy.
From there we hit Lyons, Colorado. Lyons starts the string of cool kayaking communities in which there are only 2 requirements. A whitewater park and a brewery. Colorado has nearly 20 man-made whitewater parks on existing rivers. More than all the other states combined. Colorado has quickly found out that constructing these boater friendly parks is inexpensive, and pays huge dividends in increased tourism. I am currently in Salida, CO, home to the longest running whitewater festival in the country, FIBARK. Going strong for over 60 years, it turned its first profit the year after they build several whitewater features on the Arkansas river that runs through downtown. Many other small communities quickly followed suit, seeing the goldmine created by recreation on about the only things many of these old mining towns have left – water. I really wish California and Nevada would get off their duff and follow through on existing plans for expanding recreation in Reno and Chico. The Reno whitewater park is about the most successful thing that city has build in 20 years.
Many of these photos were shot by Monique while I was boating.