This week we check in with Tamara about her family’s spring break road trip to look at colleges. Find out how the trip went and why her visit to the Vista Verde Ranch in Colorado was the perfect spring break retreat.
College Road Trip Stops
- The first stop was in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania to visit Lehigh University. This historic town is popular at Christmas time and offers a cute downtown with lots of restaurants. The historic Hotel Bethlehem is nice but in need of renovation. If you visit, try the Social Still for dinner and the Flying Egg for breakfast.
- The second stop was in Cleveland to visit Case Western Reserve University. Located in the University Circle neighborhood near the Cleveland Clinic, this is a nice area to explore the city’s museums such as the Museum of Art, Museum of Natural History, and Botanical Gardens.
- The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland is offering timed-entry tickets, temperature checks, one-way traffic, and social distancing. It was not crowded at all, making it a good time to visit.
- The third stop was in Ann Arbor to visit the University of Michigan. The Graduate Ann Arbor is a perfect spot to stay to visit the college and offers one-bedroom king suites for families. If you are staying in town, have lunch at Zingerman’s Deli, dinner at the Slurping Turtle, and breakfast, lunch or dinner at Sava’s.
- Next up was the University of Madison – Wisconsin. Again, The Graduate Madison is a good spot to stay just off State Street and close to campus.
- If you are traveling through Nebraska, the Old Haymarket District of Lincoln, Nebraska, home of the University of Nebraska, is a cool neighborhood to visit.
- The next college stop was at the University of Colorado – Boulder. The Embassy Suites in Boulder offers beautiful views, one-bedroom suites, and modern decor within walking distance to campus. When in Boulder, plan to spend time in the Pearl Street Mall area. Two great dinner stops are Oak at Fourteenth and Santo Boulder.
- If you are visiting Colorado Springs, you will probably want to visit the Garden of the Gods park, but be prepared for crowds in addition to beautiful red rock formations.
- Tamara’s family then spent a few days relaxing at the Vista Verde Ranch. This all-inclusive luxury ranch was an ideal spring break retreat offering snow tubing, snow shoeing, cross country skiing, ice fishing, snow mobiling, horse back riding and other indoor and outdoor options. The food is amazing and plentiful and there are a number of cabin options on property ranging from one to four bedrooms.
- On their way back, Tamara stopped in Topeka, Kansas, St. Louis, Missouri, and outside of Pittsburg, PA.
- In St. Louis, the Hotel St. Louis, an Autograph Collection property by Marriott, is a great place to stay with gorgeous large suites and a convenient location. If you are planning on visiting the Gateway Arch, be sure to by timed-entry tickets in advance. The social distancing protocols make for a pleasant, uncrowded stay with designated tram cars and viewing windows.
- See Tamara’s tips for road trip mistakes to avoid.
Full Episode Transcript
[00:00:00.120] – Kim Tate
We’re back. Stay tuned to hear about our latest adventures.
[00:00:16.230] – Announcer
Welcome to Vacation Mavens. A family travel podcast with ideas for your next vacation and tips to get you out the door. Here are your hosts, Kim from Stuffed Suitcase and Tamara from We3Travel.
[00:00:31.260] – Kim Tate
Tamara, we have just had, you know, a couple of awesome road trips. So I’m sure our listeners are dying to hear all about it. Everything that we’ve done, everything we learned or discovered. So this is our episode to kind of dish and just tell them about our latest.
[00:00:46.920] – Tamara Gruber
Yeah, I was thinking as I was driving, I’m like, hmm, this is what I want to say about Nebraska. This is what I want to say. Well, you know, just kind of and I was like, I really should make notes, but I was driving for half the time, so I didn’t actually make notes.
[00:00:59.400] – Tamara Gruber
But I’m excited to chat with you. It’s been so long and I know we’re going to go into more detail about your California road trip in a couple of episodes, because I know that that’s a trip that probably a lot of people want to make.
[00:01:11.370] – Kim Tate
But we should definitely talk about your epic one, because how many miles and how many states did you hit?
[00:01:15.990] – Tamara Gruber
Oh, my God, 5000 miles. I didn’t realize it was going to be quite that far. And I think I think because of the way we came back, we actually hit 16 states.
[00:01:26.970] – Kim Tate
Yeah. My goodness. Yeah.
[00:01:28.260] – Tamara Gruber
And I mean, a lot of those actually, for me, I had been to all of them before. But for Hannah, there were some new ones. For Glenn, there are some new ones. We saw, you know, a lot of ground, I will say, because we went in mid-March. I remember before we went, you were sending me pictures like it’ll be pretty and you’re sending me pictures of, like fields of wheat in the sun, sunset and like. Yeah, no, it is just brown.
[00:01:50.940] – Tamara Gruber
It’s brown, brown, brown. So it was not a scenic road trip at all. I think a lot of our listeners know that we were going to look at colleges. We did have a really beautiful part of Colorado, you know, where we were in Colorado and we stayed at a ranch. And, you know, I could talk about that a little bit, but it did convince me, too, that I really should consider moving to Colorado at some point. But it was most of the trip was, you know, a little bit boring when it came to the scenery.
[00:02:21.990] – Tamara Gruber
But we did get to see quite a few colleges. And you know what? There’s something about driving through huge parts of this country that it just stirs me. You know, like I just I it’s so important to me to feel like connected. And I feel like I can visualize, like, what it is like to live in other parts of the country, you know, get a little bit more sense of like where people coming from, what their, you know, regular life is like, you know, because I’m just I’ve lived all my life in the Northeast and the Northeast we know is like, you know, it’s crowded.
[00:02:55.050] – Tamara Gruber
It’s just, you know, like one city blurs into the other, you know, in our rural areas are, you know, like you can’t drive for miles and miles without finding, you know, a place to get gas or, you know, like any of these things.
[00:03:08.490] – Tamara Gruber
It’s just very different. And so I really appreciate every time I’m able to, like, drive through a lot of this country. And I really I really hope that more people, you know, can do that kind of thing. You know, like even if it wasn’t pretty, there was just something to it.
[00:03:21.810] – Kim Tate
It’s just something to like the vastness and the diversity and everything to it. Yeah, I think that it’s good for the coastal people to realize and experience the breadbasket of America like they term it because it is so different. And, you know, I grew up in the Midwest, of course, and knew nothing really about toll roads and all that stuff. And so that’s always something. When I go to the coast, I’m always like, oh, there’s there’s toll roads in these places.
[00:03:47.310] – Tamara Gruber
So I just wrote a post about like road trip mistakes that people make because I feel like tolls is definitely one that people don’t always pay attention to.
[00:03:56.130] – Tamara Gruber
And nowadays there’s not always a man toll booth like it’s often like electronic billing. And if you’re not from that area, you don’t have that system. And so then you have to try to figure it out. I can’t even tell you how many hours I spent trying to figure out where I was supposed to pay the Illinois tollway, you know, and I don’t I’m not sure I’m expecting I mean, like eight tickets in the mail.
[00:04:16.530] – Tamara Gruber
And I’m like, I registered for your site. I filled out everything. But I’m not seeing, like, where I actually I we took pictures of every single, like, gate kind of thing. Like the time and the number, you know, because Glenn’s been there before and I’m like, I can’t figure this out. So some of the systems are not so easy to figure out. Come to the northeast and they’re like what do you mean it’s fifteen dollars across the bridge. I’m like yeah.
[00:04:44.040] – Kim Tate
Yeah. And it’s you know, well we have on the West Coast like HOV lanes. Right. So we had where we couldn’t even use the lane near San Francisco because we didn’t have you there. And we have that in Seattle as well. Like you can use the HOV lane for a fee for a fee.
[00:05:00.150] – Kim Tate
But if you want to use it as a high occupancy vehicle, you have to have the, you know, Washington tag that’s in your windshield and is registered to your vehicle on your plate. And so, yeah, it was kind of frustrating. I was like, oh, because we got hit in a major traffic. And like, I was like, oh, I want to be in that carpool lane, but I couldn’t. I didn’t want to pay whatever the fee was because, you know, in Washington, if you don’t have the past, you have to pay three dollars to pay it by mail. They charge you a three dollar surcharge. So anyways, it’s crazy.
[00:05:32.830] – Tamara Gruber
Well, I will say, I have a lot of overall observations of driving 5000 miles. Number one, our roads are crap. They are terrible.
[00:05:42.130] – Tamara Gruber
Like I know they’re trying to pass an infrastructure bill and I can’t even say how much we need it. Like I always comment on that around, like where I live. But I feel like I live in such a busy area, like it’s get so much traffic. Well, you know what, we’re driving i 80, i 70, i 90 like.
[00:05:59.500] – Tamara Gruber
And it’s all trucks, there’s so many trucks and it was you know, I don’t know if it’s more now or not, but like it was the point where it’s not relaxing at all, even though it’s just a straight highway. It’s like because you’re constantly passing trucks like we had had to drive. She just has a permit. Knock wood. By the time you hear that, she’ll have her license. But she drove for like three hours in Nebraska and three hours in Kansas. And the speed limit is like seventy five. And she’s like constantly like trucks are passing her, she’s passing trucks. And it was she’s like, I’m exhausted. I don’t know if you see that on the West Coast, but it was terrible.
[00:06:44.740] – Kim Tate
Yeah, well, we went through Oregon and I guess in Oregon, it’s one of the few states that allows three semi links. And I think you probably passed some, but I we don’t have it in California or Washington. Oh, but it’s semi trucks allow three, you know, the back seat and it says long load.
[00:07:07.660] – Tamara Gruber
I even said it like those trucks drive like they rule the world and like who cares about you. I had one literally drive me off the road like I’m so glad that I was driving and not Hannah because I managed to keep us like in the like in not a shoulder. I had to go into the grass but like straight without like like she probably would have with the car. It’s like they I was next to it and not like far back, like next to its cab.
[00:07:38.740] – Tamara Gruber
Yeah. And it started, you know, it put its turn signal on and it started coming and I’m like laying on the horn and it just kept coming. And so I had to go into the median and again, you know, you’re like you’re driving through grass and you’re like seventy five miles an hour, you know?
[00:07:52.790] – Tamara Gruber
And then I was able to like, you know, safely get us back up, you know, on the road. And that almost happened to me multiple times. So I will say, like, it’s not you know, it was not always pleasant driving. I would have loved to have gotten off on just some of the smaller roads, like when we were in like Wisconsin and Colorado, we were in some smaller roads that were like much more pleasant. Although let me tell you the other thing that I observed about Wisconsin.
[00:08:21.730] – Tamara Gruber
I felt like I was in another country. We have you ever seen this where the instead of, you know, how you have interstate, you know, we have Interstate 95, we have high U.S. Highway One, we have state route two. There are like state highways or, you know, it was like exit for Highway X, Y or an X.
[00:08:42.070] – Tamara Gruber
It was the letter letters I’ve never seen. I know we’re going to have listeners that are like, what’s wrong with you? But like, I had never I never seen that either.
[00:08:52.570] – Kim Tate
I didn’t know that either. I are. We’re just inspiring people to take road trips with all these. I’m just kidding.
[00:08:59.050] – Tamara Gruber
Sorry. anyways, these are the things you learn, right?
[00:09:02.830] – Kim Tate
Yeah, these are the things you learn. But I always think it’s cool how the states have different highways. They have the little symbols. And I’ve never seen anything fun like in California or Oregon or Washington. But I know once we were in like I think Utah and they have like a beehive. Is there like have you seen.
[00:09:18.400] – Kim Tate
Oh yeah. It’s like different shape. So, yeah, different states have fun little shapes and stuff, but I don’t think we have anything fun. So I was wondering if you saw any fun shaped state highways.
[00:09:28.510] – Tamara Gruber
Not that I recognize, but I can kind of picture that. I’m pretty sure in New Hampshire there’s looks like one of the mountain faces. I did learn that Nebraska. Oh, what’s that? What was the town?
[00:09:40.410] – Tamara Gruber
Kearney, Nebraska is the sandhill Crane, capital of the world. As we’re driving, this is the time that Hannah was driving. So I was sitting in the back because I’m like, you know, I need a break. And if I’m in the front, like, somebody needs to, like, be paying attention to her. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. I’m just going to sit in the back for a little bit. I can’t do it long because I get carsick, but I’m like, I’m going to go back there.
[00:10:01.450] – Tamara Gruber
So I’m just like looking out the window and I just see all these birds that I’m like they kind of look like Osprey, like they look like water birds, but they’re all in these open fields, you know, because it’s just like plowed fields now. And I’m like, this is so I. And I’m like, did you guys see that, did you guys see that and they’re like, what? What’s, you know, like I have nothing else to look at back here. You can’t, like, look ahead of me, you know?
[00:10:22.150] – Tamara Gruber
So anyway, then we would drive past the sign that says the sandhill crane capital of the world. I’m like, oh, that’s fascinating. Yeah, that’s cool.
[00:10:29.380] – Kim Tate
I was going to mention with bathrooms when you’re talking about stops and stuff is surprisingly I forgot about travel centers like for when you know about travel centers.
[00:10:43.450] – Kim Tate
They normally have like a food place in them, but I find they’re the restrooms at most of those travel centers, like the big ones, like the TravelCenters of America, like the big T and A..
[00:10:52.750] – Kim Tate
Yeah. Although it’s funny, like growing up in the Midwest, we always laughed about the T and the giant T&A. But anyways, you know, it’s normally a pretty good one. And so we stopped at that a couple of times. And I think that the other thing we had done was because she was looking for like a cheesy California keychain for a friend. And I was like, oh, we need to find a travel center, because that’s the kind of stuff they have there.
[00:11:16.480] – Tamara Gruber
And yeah, like, that’s that kind of thing is very common here in the East Coast. It’s not like they’re not always the labeled ones like like they’re just like like if you’re driving like I-95, it’s like, you know, here’s this rest area and it’s there’s gas and there’s inside there’s bathrooms, there’s, you know, food court. And there’s the little shop and the bathrooms there.
[00:11:36.790] – Tamara Gruber
Like I actually they’re usually pretty clean, like they weren’t when I worked at one back on the New Jersey Turnpike when I was 16.
[00:11:43.630] – Tamara Gruber
But it’s pretty clean and you don’t have to touch any doors, you know, like everything touchless, you know. So that is and it’s very open like versus going into like a gas station that has like a one.
[00:11:56.020] – Kim Tate
Yeah, yeah. Or they’ve got like the paddle key you have to get. Yeah. That people have touched in the last fifty.
[00:12:00.250] – Tamara Gruber
But even and even if they have like one that has multiple stalls, it’s like two or three styles and people might be waiting in a line and it’s very close, whereas those are like so open, you know, that like the circulation is much better.
[00:12:11.090] – Kim Tate
Exactly. And there’s normally find parking and certainly easy to get on and off and back on the highway. Yeah. So I really like those. And then we used rest stops a lot actually. And I was really impressed.
[00:12:20.860] – Kim Tate
I think rest stops are like the gift to road trips because for us, especially with teenagers and when they were little kids, we discovered this.
[00:12:28.900] – Kim Tate
Inevitably somebody is waiting for a bathroom, are looking for and they end up wandering down the aisles and wanting to get this chip in this drink. And you spend another hundred and fifty dollars on snacks that day because of all the stops for bathrooms that you ended up buying junk food. And I noticed at least on the West Coast, I think it was practically 100 percent mask wearing on all the rest stops. And I even noticed one point because I kind of I think it was partially me, because I noticed this older couple was walking towards me like walking their dog and they didn’t have my son.
[00:13:02.530] – Kim Tate
And I, like, gave them a wide berth. Like I walked in the grass to go around them. And as soon as I passed, I heard the woman go, Oh, honey, we have our mask. Let’s see, I’m going to go to the car and get our mask. Like she hadn’t thought of it because she was thinking they were just going to walk our dog. But then she realized, you know, there’s a lot of foot traffic.
[00:13:17.050] – Tamara Gruber
Right. Right. I’ve had that experience, too. Yeah. So for you, like when you say, like, rest stop, So that’s like the building off of the highway where like, yeah, people walk the dog and there’s bathrooms and sometimes there’s like a brochure’s or something but that’s like yeah ok. Yeah.
[00:13:31.810] – Tamara Gruber
Great. Yeah. Yeah we have been, we have like the big ones kind of too.
[00:13:36.460] – Kim Tate
So yeah these are, I’m talking about the ones that are just like literally on and off the highway, I-95 there almost every twenty five miles ish most of the time. So but yeah. And there’s definitely different qualities in some of them are nice and have lots of stalls and others are not great.
[00:13:52.660] – Kim Tate
But everyone we all went to always had toilet paper, had seat covers, running water, all that. So it was a good, good thing for us.
[00:14:00.670] – Tamara Gruber
It shows you our priorities that we’re spending like five minutes talking about bathroom. I’m so sorry, everyone.
[00:14:06.280] – Kim Tate
They’re like, OK, yeah, I’m bored. Yeah, we’re like twenty minutes. And we haven’t even started talking about your road trip. So let’s jump to that.
[00:14:18.220] – Kim Tate
Let’s talk about your specific road trip. We’ve talked about the mileage and the states, but what were the highlights?
[00:14:23.980] – Tamara Gruber
Let’s see. I’ll just run through an order because it’s easiest for me to remember, like, in that way. But we our first stop was in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, which is known for its like Christmas things, because, as you can imagine. So we visited Lehigh University there and that was good. It was actually a very cute little downtown. It was good.
[00:14:43.600] – Tamara Gruber
I liked the university was beautiful, but it was not Hannah’s favorite just because she wants something a little more integrated, even though it was like a very cute town, she’s like it’s more like town adjacent than town, like into like, OK, so that was our first stop.
[00:14:56.440] – Tamara Gruber
And then we headed off to Cleveland and we stayed in the university circle neighborhood of Cleveland. So we didn’t see a lot of downtown, but I really explored that area. It’s so it’s case Western Reserve University is the school that we’re visiting and it’s right next to like all the hospitals and Cleveland Clinic, but it’s also near there. Museum. So they have like this really nice green area, you know, with like parks and it’s like the Wade oval and around it there’s a botanical gardens, a museum of natural history, an art museum.
[00:15:28.080] – Tamara Gruber
And then also just a few minutes away, kind of right next to campus, too, is a contemporary art museum. So there’s a lot of museums around there to explore. There’s like a Little Italy neighborhood, you know, and of course, we spent time, like walking around campus.
[00:15:42.210] – Tamara Gruber
But then one of the things that we got to do was to go to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, because I’m like, if we’re going to go to Cleveland, like, we have to do this, like we all love music.
[00:15:52.230] – Tamara Gruber
You know, Glenn, you know, especially like is such a classic rock guy. But I was really surprised by, like, how up to date it was, you know, they had like outfits from Billy Eilish, you know, like it was it was very like all the like Harry Styles to like all the way up to date.
[00:16:08.280] – Tamara Gruber
And here’s going to be my plug in my learning for this. It’s like I know that everyone’s going to head to the outdoors in the national parks this summer. I know in a couple weeks we’re going to be talking about one of those kind of road trips. But I will say, if you want to be counterintuitive, it’s actually really cheap to be in cities right now.
[00:16:27.870] – Tamara Gruber
And the indoor attractions are very quiet.
[00:16:31.470] – Tamara Gruber
And it’s so well managed that I we felt so much safer in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame than we did when we went to the Outdoor Garden of the Gods in a park in Colorado Springs because you had to get timed entry tickets.
[00:16:47.100] – Tamara Gruber
Everybody has temperatures taken. It’s one way traffic. It’s all sanitized like everything. Like I really felt we were obviously were there on a Monday afternoon. So it wasn’t like primetime.
[00:16:57.090] – Tamara Gruber
But I was like, could there even have been 50 people in this entire building of like three or four floors? Like, it didn’t it was not crowded at all. Some of the interactive types of things were closed. So I’m sure it would have been more fun if we could have done more of that, like listening kind of things.
[00:17:13.140] – Tamara Gruber
But we still like, you know, we really enjoyed it. We got a lot out of it. So I feel like maybe it’s not too bad to do some of these indoor things or things that are usually crowded when there’s not the crowds. So I can throw that out there as an idea.
[00:17:26.520] – Kim Tate
You know, I totally sorry. I was going to say I totally agree. I was just talking to Carolyn, our friend Carolyn, about that, because I went to the mop up museum in Seattle and it was the same thing. It was like a timed entry ticket that you bought online, got temperature checked. Everything’s one way.
[00:17:39.510] – Kim Tate
And there is it felt like nobody felt like we had the exhibits to ourselves. And of course, like you said, we went in the weekday. But I definitely think you’re right that that’s the place to, like, really take advantage of your, like, staycation local cities. If there’s some museums you avoid or I think now’s the time to.
[00:17:56.100] – Tamara Gruber
Yeah, because and like I said, the the days I mean, for the most part, almost all of the hotels we were in, we it was not like they they are kind of concentrating people on certain floors, I think probably for housekeeping reasons.
[00:18:08.010] – Tamara Gruber
So it’s not like we’re the only one on the floor, but only in I think one place did we sometimes encounter people like on the elevator and we’d have to wait for the next elevator. But for the most part, there was like no one around and it was cheap, you know, so that all worked out well.
[00:18:23.010] – Tamara Gruber
So we moved from Cleveland and I actually really like that school, too. So so maybe we’ll be back and explore more in Cleveland. We’ll see. But from then, we drove like about two and a half hours to Ann Arbor, Michigan. And I will say, like, I know Michigan is a huge school, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and they have the largest stadium football stadium in the Western Hemisphere, the big house.
[00:18:43.680] – Tamara Gruber
And so I thought the school is going to feel immense and like really just spread out and like not manageable and confusing. And it really didn’t like first of all, Ann Arbor is the cutest town. You know, like there’s great, like restaurants and like just little districts. And, you know, walking around was great. And the campus felt like there’s like a north campus that you definitely have to drive to. But then the rest of it felt like pretty compact. And there’s just so much school spirit there.
[00:19:10.110] – Tamara Gruber
Like everyone that you walk by is wearing like Michigan or something, you know, like sweatpants, sweatshirt, you know, like it just you could tell, like, they’re super into it. So and we had a couple we brought in.
[00:19:21.630] – Tamara Gruber
Well, one time we eat outside at a deli. Zingerman’s Deli is like really famous there. So we had to check that out. And then we brought in from like an Asian place called Slurping Turtle, which was delicious.
[00:19:33.300] – Tamara Gruber
We stayed at the graduate there, which again, I love graduate hotels for college towns because they have so much personality. And there it was, you know, not crowded at all. And it was adjacent to campus, like adjacent to State Street, like everything was convenient. So if you go in to Ann Arbor, like, I would definitely look at a stay there. It was you know, it was a really nice property.
[00:19:55.680] – Tamara Gruber
We I had booked a suite, so it wasn’t quite as big of a separate little room as I thought, but it had like this little living room area, you know, I usually like the suite would be like the main room is like you walk into, like the living area and then the bedroom would be off here. You walked into the bedroom and then off the bedroom there was a. A little like I would call it a den, you know, like it had a little tiny couch and a little like a TV and a chair.
[00:20:20.810] – Tamara Gruber
So we put Hannah in there and like you, you could extend the bed, but you couldn’t then walk around it, like, crawl across.
[00:20:28.400] – Tamara Gruber
So it’s very small, but it was perfect because, you know, she had at least her own little space. And then the next morning before we left, we had this amazing brunch.
[00:20:37.920] – Tamara Gruber
I have to, like, look up where it was. But we had this, you know, amazing brunch of this beautiful place. We actually had to knock on the door, like to have them open for us.
[00:20:46.790] – Tamara Gruber
So we were the only people in there for a while. And I think that was one of the like, you know, eating inside still makes us nervous. So we’re like, OK, it’s like a two story place. We’re the only people in here, so we’re good. So if you go to Ann Arbor, the place is called Savas. And it was it was delicious. I’m sure it would be amazing for lunch or dinner, too.
[00:21:03.350] – Tamara Gruber
But from there, we moved to Madison, Wisconsin, and I’ve been to Madison before, as you know, and I really liked it a lot when we got there.
[00:21:11.780] – Tamara Gruber
It was pretty like rainy, but like an icy cold, you know, windy kind of rain. So it wasn’t like ideal conditions for exploring. But luckily, like a friend of ours, their daughter goes to University of Wisconsin, Madison. So she was able to walk us around, I think, which definitely made an impression on Hannah because the other places we were just exploring on our own because tours weren’t open right at the time. So, you know, so that was good.
[00:21:36.320] – Tamara Gruber
And we that day was actually St. Patrick’s Day. So I was like, I am not going out on St. Patrick’s Day in a college town. Like, there’s no way. Not a pandemic, no way. So we brought in some food there. And we also stated a graduate there and actually the graduate there, we stayed at we again booked a suite. It was called like the Camp Wanda Wenga Suite or something. But it’s set up like very camp style.
[00:21:58.190] – Tamara Gruber
And the separate little room had bunk beds and it had like an Atari and like, you know, a little gaming system and stuff. So it was really cute. And I was like, oh, my. Like, top bunk is going to be for this and I’m going to be in the bottom bunk. And I know she she had fun that she had bunk beds. That’s cute. So that was good.
[00:22:13.250] – Tamara Gruber
And then we drove. That’s the day that we then drove and we stayed in Nebraska. So that was just like we had a driving day and then we had another driving day and we got to Boulder, Colorado, and we definitely loved our stay in Boulder.
[00:22:25.250] – Tamara Gruber
It’s such a cute it’s a cute city. Has is like this Pearl Street district where it’s just like an open pedestrian mall with tons of like restaurants and shops and stuff off of it.
[00:22:35.570] – Tamara Gruber
And we stayed at an Embassy Suites. And I will say, like Glenn and I were, we used points for a lot of these. And so Glenn and I were kind of expecting, you know, a lot of embassy suites are kind of old, right?
[00:22:46.910] – Kim Tate
You know, like, yeah, they have this in the nineties. Like this big center foyer. Pyramid or whatever.
[00:22:54.500] – Tamara Gruber
Yeah, yeah, yeah. This was like a brand new Embassy Suites. It was the nicest Embassy Suites or looked brand new that I’ve ever seen.
[00:23:02.240] – Kim Tate
And we had a nice we had an Embassy Suites in Seattle.
[00:23:07.220] – Tamara Gruber
Really nice. Yeah. It’s just. Yeah yeah I agree because you get that stuck in your head about certain brands. Right. You kind of have like what your expectations are. So I was like, well you know, we’re using points like whatever, it’s an embassy suites and I got there, I’m like, oh this is really nice. And again had a suite again. We were on the road a lot, very close together. So a few times I wanted to splurge and have a suite and have like a little more space, you know, to be in.
[00:23:32.150] – Tamara Gruber
But it overlooked the you could see the campus, which is kind of up on a hill, then behind it, the Flatiron Mountains. And it was stunning. It’s like, you know, to to open up the window and see, that was amazing.
[00:23:45.530] – Tamara Gruber
And just the campus was beautiful. We love you know, she loved the campus. She loved Boulder. I just loved, you know, they had just gotten like two feet of snow a week before. So I thought it was going to be crazy. And, yeah, there was some snow on the ground, but it just doesn’t stick. I think, like, you and I are both come from like wet climb, you know, colder like wet climates.
[00:24:02.660] – Tamara Gruber
And so we’ll get ice, you know, it sticks around. But there I think because it’s dry, like the snow just melts and evaporates right away.
[00:24:10.970] – Tamara Gruber
But yeah. So one day we drove down, we were going to go to Rocky Mountain National Park, but then I was reading about it and it looked like a lot of the trails, like I would need snow shoes. And then I’m like, well, you know, you can only drive so much of it because the main road is closed in the winter. You know, you can’t go all the way across the park.
[00:24:28.520] – Tamara Gruber
And so I was just debating, do we bother to go up there? We’re going to have we’re going to do snowshoeing and stuff when we go on our next stop. So I didn’t really want to rent equipment to do that. So instead, we it was a beautiful day. It was like seventy degrees, which is crazy. So we drove down to Colorado Springs and we went to the Garden of the Gods, which I think everyone has seen pictures of.
[00:24:48.800] – Tamara Gruber
And I just oh, it looks so beautiful. Like let’s go down there.
[00:24:51.830] – Tamara Gruber
First of all, we got stuck in all this traffic, which was crazy. And then, you know, so that was stressful. And then we got there and it was insane. It was it was a Saturday afternoon. It was seventy degrees, but it was insanely crowded. So I had and I got there. I had to use the bathroom speaking bathrooms. So I did wait in line like outside, because everyone that came in to the visitors center had to like sign in and provide your.
[00:25:14.170] – Tamara Gruber
Contact information for contact tracing, which was a joke because it’s interesting that they’re still doing that. Yeah, like everyone else, like tons of people didn’t even go inside. And so we’re walking, you know, then into the park and like, no one had masks, hardly anybody had masks on.
[00:25:30.550] – Tamara Gruber
And these are like jammed walkways, like you cannot avoid being within six feet of people. And it says, like, you know, mask is required even outside for when you can’t be. It wasn’t like it required all the time, but it’s like when you can’t be with, you know, more than six feet away. But it’s like you clearly no one can be.
[00:25:50.440] – Tamara Gruber
So we were wearing a mask and we’re like trying to like, you know, get through it really quickly in a way. But it was it was definitely stressful.
[00:25:57.370] – Tamara Gruber
It was like it was really like all of us were feeling it were a super stressful, you know, like trying to, like, look away when somebody, like, walked by you and like, you know, like just I don’t know, like just protect yourself.
[00:26:07.860] – Tamara Gruber
And I know what’s outside. And you generally passing people like within seconds. And there’s probably very little danger, but it’s still kind of freaked us out, you know, like it’s been a long time since we’ve been around a lot of people.
[00:26:19.090] – Tamara Gruber
And it was not really fun. And I wanted it to be fun and I felt bad. So that’s just my feeling is that granted, if I was in that situation and I had been vaccinated already, I wouldn’t feel quite as worried. But I do really worry about being in crowded places like this summer and like what that’s going to be like in some of the parks. And I know some people will feel like very comfortable because they’re vaccinated. But like, if things are still circulating a lot, you know, like we still have to take certain precautions.
[00:26:47.890] – Tamara Gruber
And, you know, I don’t know. It does make me a little bit worried about being in, like I said, crowded places in the summer.
[00:26:54.370] – Kim Tate
But was it pretty, though?
[00:26:56.110] – Tamara Gruber
It was beautiful. It was. It was. But it probably was a little more crowded than I would have liked anyway. I just have to get used to that.
[00:27:04.900] – Tamara Gruber
So after Boulder, we ended up going to a ranch for a couple of days, which was like definitely the highlight of our trip. And, you know, you know that when we went to the ranch in Montana a few years ago, it was still like one of our top trips. We just kind of love that experience. But I wasn’t quite sure what it was going to be like in the winter, spring, you know, kind of season, like what activities there would be and what it would be like.
[00:27:30.400] – Tamara Gruber
But it was exactly what we needed. You know, it was like time outside. We had, you know, time. It was just such a relaxed environment, I think. So we went to the Vista Verde Ranch, which is just a little bit north of Steamboat Springs, and it is a luxury ranch. So they definitely have more amenities and, you know, service than the ranch that we went to before. And I think both can be great.
[00:27:56.950] – Tamara Gruber
But I felt like for this, especially for this season, it was nice to have the kind of that extra level of of amenities and activities and things. But there max capacity is something like 50 people, you know. So I think it’s like a dozen cabins. They have cabins that go from one bedroom up to four bedroom. And you have you know, you have your own space because you have a cabin.
[00:28:17.500] – Tamara Gruber
So it felt like a very covid friendly type of vacation. And I wasn’t sure because everything that we did before was so like community oriented.
[00:28:26.590] – Tamara Gruber
And I think that that does it is sad that you don’t have some of that now, because that is like one of the really cool things about a ranch environment. Right. But it’s still like they did it in such a way. That was it was just really nice. So I just can’t like I don’t know, I was so happy. Like, I wish we could have stayed longer. It’s definitely pricey, but it is, you know, just a very unique experience.
[00:28:47.980] – Tamara Gruber
I mean, we did activities they have like you can sign up for activities like the day before. They have a calendar out. There’s morning activities and afternoon activities, and sometimes there’s a night activity. And so we did snowshoeing one day, which was just fabulous. And the way that they do it, you know, they have all the equipment on site, they have guides. And what they’re doing now is like if you’re with a family or small group, they’re sending you out with like a private guide.
[00:29:17.470] – Tamara Gruber
So you’re not even in a group of people, you know, it’s just you and your family, which is kind of nice because I think I’ve told a story about like one other time when I went snowshoeing and I showed up and like all my ski gear, like thinking I was going to be freezing and I showed up and there were this there was like the guide in this other couple and they were in, I don’t know, like a sweatshirt and like winter pants kind of thing.
[00:29:40.480] – Tamara Gruber
And they were like, I hope we’re going to really get our hearts going now. And I’m like, oh, crap. I did it myself into and the whole time I’m like huffing and puffing because there it was like climbing in, like trying to keep up with them and sweating and ripping off layers of clothes. And then I would catch up to them and then they’d be like and then they would keep going, you know what I’m like. I didn’t get a chance to have a rest. And so I feel like to go by yourself. And the other time I did it was in Idaho and it was just me and a guide. But she was like twenty three. She was out there on the mountain every day, you know, and I was like my foot hurt from. For the last few days and, you know, it’s just like you’re at altitude and you’re climbing up and I remember being like, I’m going to stop and take a picture.
[00:30:21.760] – Tamara Gruber
I’m going to stop stopping and taking pictures because I needed a little break. But this one was like, you know, he kept stopping and he was just like, how are you guys doing? We’re like, no, we’re good. Like, let’s keep going and let’s let’s climb up there. And, you know, we climbed up to this point. We had a beautiful view and know. So they really can match your peace. And like he says, like, you know, with a family, like your patient, with each other, you know, it’s not like a group that, you know, someone’s left behind or annoyed or, you know, all that.
[00:30:48.020] – Tamara Gruber
So so that was, you know, really worked out well. And then I think that afternoon, Hannah and I did a trail ride. I forget what Glenn did. Maybe he just decided to skip it. But we did a trail ride. And so, you know, typical, like, you know, line up my horse.
[00:31:06.100] – Tamara Gruber
My horse was a little nasty, though. Apparently, it was like the I don’t know, what’s the queen bee of horses, you know, like it has like seniority. So I kept trying to bite all the other horses. I would like to try to walk by. And so, yeah, like then the other horses were like, given it the side. I’m like, hold onto it like really tight. So stop trying to like bite the other horse. I have a little like a little bully over here.
[00:31:43.810] – Tamara Gruber
I was talking to one of the ranch hands afterwards about it and she was like, oh yeah, he’s got a little attitude, you know, but they’re so used to some of it that I don’t know, like I just I felt like like it was a personal reflection on me.
[00:31:55.360] – Tamara Gruber
One of my horses tried to, you know, be nasty to another was like I wasn’t controlling it well. But he was just like an hour, you know, ride like through a trail. But it’s, you know, everything was still snow covered. So it was really it was just pretty. And I can’t even tell you how much we enjoyed the weather because it was like sunny skies, blue skies, which I’m leaving looking at my window now in April.
[00:32:17.440] – Tamara Gruber
And I’m just seeing gray, you know, and it’s just it makes me feel like so much more alive when the sun is out.
[00:32:24.310] – Tamara Gruber
And even though it was like twenty, thirty degrees when we were doing these things, like we went snowshoeing and I just had a base layer. And like a zip up fleece and that’s it. And like my snow pants and I was totally fine and like that’s kind of it felt like thirty degrees warmer than it actually the temperature was.
[00:32:46.150] – Tamara Gruber
So we had a good time with that. And then afterwards they let you go into the paddock for this thing they call a spring shed. And so basically the horses are shedding their winter coat and so you can go and help like brush them and you can just like, you know, go up to any horse.
[00:33:01.840] – Tamara Gruber
And so I was like, do we need to be careful around there? Like, no, just kind of like them. No, like, talk to them, let them know that you’re coming.
[00:33:08.380] – Tamara Gruber
And so we’re brushing them and of course, like it was starting to be mud season. So it’s like a little icky out there, like with the poop.
[00:33:16.900] – Tamara Gruber
And and so I’m like, OK, I really wish I brought my rain boots that I could just, like, spray off. Yeah. So my tip would be to bring like a plastic bag or anything that is coming back from there. But it was, you know, it was just fun. Like Hannah loves horses.
[00:33:32.650] – Tamara Gruber
So it was like, you know, fun for her to just be able to to do that for a while and then, oh, the food was crazy good, like so, so good and so much food like the first night we got there and it was barbecue night.
[00:33:47.590] – Tamara Gruber
So you think it’s going to be, I don’t know, like family style. First of all, it’s all like table service. And what they’ve done is they did used to have like community tables, but now because of covid, you can choose to have your own table. And so they’ve spread things out. So they have like them spread out in the dining room.
[00:34:04.030] – Tamara Gruber
And ours was actually in the main lobby, which is like towering ceilings, like beautiful lodge. And we were by a window. So we had this amazing view. There was no table anywhere near us. So it was like so comfortable, you know, for like indoor dining. And they would know. So you had a printed menu every time, like beautiful place sitting. Everything was like a starter, an entree and a dessert. And the first night it was like brisket, ribs or Alaskan king crab legs.
[00:34:33.400] – Tamara Gruber
And I’m like, I didn’t even get Alaskan king crab legs when I went on an Alaskan cruise and I went to the seafood restaurant, you know, like so Glen was like, well, I can’t decide, like, can I get everything? And the girl was like, sure. And he was like, what? Like, you don’t expect people to do that, you know? And she’s like, yeah, like if you want like whatever you want, like I can bring you a little bit of this, little bit of that. And in the next morning scene with like breakfast, I was like, OK, well can I have like a pancake and an egg and some bacon. She’s like, sure. So they it was so much food and it was really. Yeah, it was delicious, you know. And the next night was a formal night. So the kids have an option of doing like grab and go. Dining where it’s more like a kid’s meal, you know, that they can just take and they can eat it in the cabin and or go do a kid activity, but it’s a little bit more of a formal meal. But it wasn’t like you had to get dressed up. But these chefs came out and like presented and then they had like a wine pairing to go with it. So that one was I think we had like a salmon over like a lemon truffle, cauliflower risotto and Brussels sprout leaves. And, you know, it was like really it was it was fine dining.
[00:35:43.710] – Tamara Gruber
And every meal was great, like, you know, you had lunch. And I was like, OK, let’s start with like a giant salad and then a burger and then dessert. And I’m like, I can’t do this. Like, I can’t keep eating.
[00:35:54.360] – Tamara Gruber
It’s like it’s so much food. But it was all so good. So definitely like a food is food is like a major highlight there.
So you go at happy hour at like five thirty and they have a selection of wines and beer. I don’t even know if they had cocktails. I think it’s wine and beer and then like a little like aperitif, you know, you had at one night was like a prosciutto wrapped date.
[00:36:21.760] – Tamara Gruber
And one night was like a deviled eggs, you know. So you had these little like snacks with your drinks. And that’s the time where people can socialize if, you know, if they want to. So like there was oh, we just sat at our table because we were already in, like, that large area with our reserved table. So we would just sit there. But then there was this one group, like a big family group that would gather by the fireplace.
[00:36:40.890] – Tamara Gruber
And sometimes they were a little forgetful when it came to like putting on their mask, when they stood up to walk to back to the bar or whatever. But luckily, like, we’re like, OK, we’re over here. You stay over there. Yeah, but it felt weird to, like, not be super friendly, you know, like it’s the kind of thing where usually you’d have more interaction with people. But then what do we do? The next day we went and we did cross country skiing because Glenn really wanted to try that. And all I can say. Have you done cross-country before?
[00:37:07.860] – Kim Tate
I have once. Paul is really into cross-country skiing and something they did in Edmonton a lot.
[00:37:12.180] – Tamara Gruber
But yeah, I could see that because he’s like the triathlon kind of guy. Yeah, yeah. It’s not my thing. That’s all I’ll really say we were doing.
[00:37:20.820] – Tamara Gruber
It was funny because we were gearing up and they said, like, it’s not really great conditions for it because it’s a little too icy, because that day it was like a little bit snowy, a little bit, it was still pretty cold in the morning there. It’s like it’s better in the afternoon. But we wanted to do something else in the afternoon and we’re only there for a couple of days. So we didn’t have like a ton of choice.
[00:37:39.330] – Tamara Gruber
And so we’re like, you know what, it’s included. This is our chance to try it. Let’s just go and do it. And they kept saying, like, oh, like when you fall, this is what you do.
[00:37:47.460] – Tamara Gruber
And I’m like, fall. Like, isn’t this just like walking? Like, when are we going to fall on cross country? And they do have like groomed trails, but they took us into like backcountry. And so then we were going like up a hill and then we had to go downhill. And I, I had no idea how different the skis are, you know. So, like, there’s just I’m used to being able to, like, dig in or like control.
[00:38:09.750] – Kim Tate
And it’s just, you know, was your heel is free.
[00:38:12.430] – Tamara Gruber
So, yeah, I’m like walking and the edges, there’s just not like the edges that you have in downhill.
[00:38:16.710] – Kim Tate
No, not at all. Yeah. So you stay, the whole idea is like, I mean I guess some people like plow but when I that time I went cross-country skiing. You’re kind of in a rut of already done.
[00:38:28.530] – Tamara Gruber
So you kind of I think it would have been cool if we did like the groomed trail but. But they’re groomed trail was more like almost like a track, like an overall kind of thing. And then they it’s more used to get people comfortable with it and then they go out to backcountry. Yeah. So like that part, I mean we made it fine. It was fine. Hannah actually really liked it and she liked like going ahead and laughing at us a bit.
[00:38:51.120] – Tamara Gruber
But I just, I definitely love snowshoeing. So I’m like I don’t think I would choose like cross country over snowshoeing. You know, I just I, you know, me and my control, like, I like to be in control and like, it’s so easy to be in control.
[00:39:06.720] – Kim Tate
Snowshoeing is better for that with than cross country. Yeah. I took out, yeah. I took out my father in law because I didn’t know anything about it or how to stop and he had stopped to like look at something.I just kept going. I don’t know what to do. So it’s kind of funny. I mean it we were fine but yeah.
[00:39:25.260] – Tamara Gruber
Yeah that was cool to get to try that, you know, and then the next thing we did didn’t end up quite as well, but we went snow tubing and again, it’s like a little bit icy. And so they have, you know, there this is just all on their property.
[00:39:40.710] – Tamara Gruber
So they have a hill where they have kind of, you know, trails. But it’s not like this. Quite the same grooming that you would have, you know, if you went to a ski resort type of of snow tubing. But they pull you up in a snowmobile, so they take you up there up to the hill on the snowmobile, you tube down, then they snowmobile you back up, you know, so that’s kind of cool. And it was a lot of fun.
[00:40:00.450] – Tamara Gruber
Like, we were definitely having a ton of fun, like Glenn and Hannah were going down, like in Hannah. And I did it, too, like together together, you know, and like, go down. But when you went down, you were going really fast.
[00:40:10.680] – Tamara Gruber
They’re like it’s really slick, just so you know. So if you. Want to slow down like you use your foot to, like, kind of slow you down, like it’s better if you went on your belly. We’re usually like sit in the tube, you know, go on your belly and then you can, like, control it a little bit more.
[00:40:23.870] – Tamara Gruber
And then at the bottom, they had some, like, barriers. And it’s like you don’t really want to go past the barrier because you’re not going to go off a cliff. But it’s it’s not going to be great if you keep going, you know.
[00:40:32.150] – Tamara Gruber
So I would always, you know, slow myself down, but it definitely was getting sicker and sicker. And then Glenn and Hannah, which we’re almost it was almost going to be like the end anyway, like we’re almost at the end of the day. But he went and then I saw, like, the two of them went like because there’s two runs and I was waiting at the top. And then I went down. I kind of saw Glenn go like, oh, you know.
[00:40:52.790] – Tamara Gruber
And then I was like, oh, what happens? I get down to the bottom and he can’t stand because he he was using his foot to slow down and he felt something. And then when he went to stand up afterwards, the snow is like really deep, but it was just a little bit crusty on top. So then you kind of fall through and you might you know, you might be like a couple feet deep and snow and you have to, like, lift your foot out.
[00:41:13.970] – Tamara Gruber
And so he kind of fell in to someone’s like hole and then his foot, like he just felt something so like a few to three years, two years ago, he fractured his foot doing, you know, like he was doing a half marathon.
[00:41:27.650] – Tamara Gruber
He was running a lot and he had like a stress fracture. So he says that this is what it felt like. So that was not the ideal end to our little trip. Yeah, it’s a bummer because it sounds like you guys were having such a good time.
[00:41:40.610] – Kim Tate
And then now it’s a, you know, kind of like the end as calmly as you want it.
[00:41:46.160] – Tamara Gruber
And then, yeah, it was especially great that while at least I was like, OK, let’s like put ice on it and wrap it and like, put it up and just like, relax for a while and like see how you feel. But then he called a friend and the friend was like, you really should get x rays before you go, like all the way home, because we’re leaving the next morning to start at 10, 12 hour drive to Kansas.
[00:42:07.160] – Tamara Gruber
And so then I was like, I really think I have to go get x rays. And by this point it’s like five o’clock. And I’m like, well, by the time I get you to Steamboat Springs, like we’re missing dinner here. And then we’re driving back here at night after dark, which not like great roads for driving after dark when you’re not familiar with them.
[00:42:26.510] – Tamara Gruber
And then we’re just getting up and leaving the next morning and we’re we’ll have to drive back, pass through Steamboat Springs, you know, like we were north and we needed to go south. So I was like, OK, I think what we should do is just pack up and check out early and I should take it as Steamboat Springs and then like, let’s just stay down there and then start our drive from there in the morning. It just, you know, it just wasn’t worth it to come back, like just for breakfast and so sad, like we only really had to two nights there, but it worked out like we drove down.
[00:42:56.810] – Tamara Gruber
I got us all packed up and checked out and we drove down to Steamboat Springs and dropped them off at the hospital for X-rays. I’m like, well, I can’t come in anyway. So like, let me go take care of, like, getting gas in the car and finding where we can get some food to pick up and, you know, researching where to stay. And so, like, we could have stayed in Steamboat Springs, but we were kind of like, you know what, let’s just drive down to 70, Interstate 70, so that in the morning, like, we definitely have less of a big drive tomorrow.
[00:43:22.340] – Tamara Gruber
And so we we thought it was all going to be good. And we he was finally done at like eight o’clock. So it’s like, you know, maybe before eight o’clock is like just turning dark and we start driving and we have to go up like over a mountain pass.
[00:43:36.950] – Tamara Gruber
And I’m driving, of course, because he has like a boot and crutches and it starts snowing like swirling white out snow, like I can barely see. So I’m driving this mountain pass like I don’t know how easy it is, you know what I mean? Like, is it is it really slick? Like, it was terrifying. I will tell you, like even like everyone in the car just like was quiet. So I could like, just very much focus on my drive.
[00:44:04.100] – Tamara Gruber
And I was like gripping that wheel and going like twenty five miles an hour and just trying to be so careful because, you know, like it’s a mountain pass in Colorado, like.
[00:44:14.180] – Tamara Gruber
Yeah. And all I could think was if I pull over, are we going to end up one of those people that like died on the side of the road because they froze overnight. And, you know, like, what if it gets worse, you know, versus better?
[00:44:25.220] – Tamara Gruber
And so I just, like, pushed through. And when we finally started coming back down, at least it stopped snowing. But then I was like, still so tense, like the rest of the drive. It was like a two hour drive to get like south to Interstate 70 because, you know, it’s just dark and small mountain road. And then we had to look out for deer. There’s all these signs for Deer Crossing. And they even I saw a couple bridges.
[00:44:48.500] – Tamara Gruber
So I think it’s where they’ve made those like wildlife. Yeah. Crossing thing. Crossing things. Yeah. Yeah. So and and the people at the hospital had warned Glen, like, if you’re driving that way, like watch out for deer. So, you know, we finally made it to our hotel and it was good that we were plant we had booked ahead because when we got there the hotel parking lot was jammed. And so I dropped Glenn and he ran off up front, you know, because he has crutches and they went in to check in and like I.
[00:45:12.700] – Tamara Gruber
To go park so far away and as I got out of the car, I realized a lot of people were actually sleeping in the car and their cars were running. And I’m like, what’s going on? And then I realized that, like, they had closed Interstate 70 because of snow. And people were just, like, waiting it out there, I think.
[00:45:30.520] – Tamara Gruber
So I’m like, oh, I’m really glad that I had booked the hotel room and I’m glad that we didn’t plan to go any further. But I was so exhausted. We got there and I was like, I just need a minute. Like, I just I need to decompress. Like it was I was at the point that stressful. Yeah, I felt like breaking down in tears. I was just like, I need to like, let out all the stress, like I was so like I just really needed to breathe for a little bit.
[00:46:01.570] – Tamara Gruber
I really, really enjoyed the ranch part and then from there we just, you know, we headed home and we, we stayed. I will give a lot of credit to Marriott because we booked a lot of our hotels with points and we ended up on the way back, like having to adjust.
[00:46:16.720] – Tamara Gruber
Like, I just like to have our hotels booked on a road trip because I don’t know, like I’m just worried. Like, what about the thing like with, you know, Interstate 70 and like the hotel gets sold out or, you know, something like that. So we’re planning on stopping in. You will know. Is it Seleena or Salina? Salina, yeah.
[00:46:34.180] – Tamara Gruber
So we were planning on stopping there, but because we had started from, you know, like an earlier like because we had already gone south and we were starting it was going to be not as long a drive. We’re like, let’s just push on and go a little further. And so we decided to push on. I don’t even remember where we stopped, but it was like closer to Kansas City. I think it was still in Kansas, like, I seriously can’t even remember. But we called, you know, on at least it brought us like another hour or two, you know, like, yeah, further east.
[00:47:03.310] – Tamara Gruber
And so Glen called and he had you know, he’s so big into his like, I got the email the day before, you know, because I’m like, whatever status does in already. So, yeah, we want to change it. But he’s already checked in like .
[00:47:15.700] – Tamara Gruber
And so I was like, well you need to call because like if y’all like maybe they’ll say something, you know, they’ll let you. So they were like, OK, we’re canceling it. But, you know, you booked this with a certificate, so you’re going to have to call like Marriott to get it, like reinstated. So then luckily I’m driving because Glenns. But, you know, so he’s calling. He gets them to, like, give him back his points and then immediately, like, we rebooked somewhere else, like with the points.
[00:47:41.770] – Tamara Gruber
So it was all like very seamless. Yeah, it was great.
[00:47:44.680] – Tamara Gruber
So we did that and then. Oh I think it was Topeka. Oh I think that’s where we stopped.There was a very good coffee shop across the street. That’s all I know. Which I don’t, you know, I don’t even drink coffee but it was really cool.
[00:48:07.150] – Kim Tate
I saw people become coffee drinkers just because like when the craze of the coffee shop aspect and then, like, working at home, I think people it’s kind of funny to think that way, but I’m convinced.
[00:48:18.700] – Tamara Gruber
Yeah, it was. And then. Yeah. So the next day we just had to drive to St. Louis and so we got there and you know, you and I had talked about on a previous episode like that, we were going to go to the arch and so I had bought tickets in advance. And it’s another thing, just like the Rock Hall of Fame, where it was such a better experience because there were hardly any people, you know.
[00:48:38.800] – Tamara Gruber
So I bought the tickets in advance, which is good. When we showed up, there was a big sign that was like we’re sold out for the day, but we had something at the end of the day anyway. So we got there. We didn’t have time to do the museum downstairs first because we were a little like five minutes late for our tram, you know, up to the top. You did that, which definitely it is.
[00:48:58.540] – Tamara Gruber
If you’ve not done it is not good for claustrophobic people. So it’s like these little pods. I don’t know if you remember from when you went, but it’s like this little round pod that, like, you get in. But they’ve done it.
[00:49:09.310] – Tamara Gruber
It’s kind of like a Disney ride now. So like you get a boarding pass and you stand on like Circle five and then you’re going to be in pod five. And somehow in normal times, they could fit like five or six people in these pods. And I have no idea, like a gondola pod.
[00:49:28.810] – Tamara Gruber
But then you’re going up. I mean, it’s kind of fascinating technology because first we’re like, how do they do this? Like how do you go up on an angle.
[00:49:36.010] – Tamara Gruber
So you have to like read about how they do it. But it’s like because it’s like a you know, like a round pod, they can like, rotate it like you don’t feel it. But anyway, it’s it’s interesting, but it does have like a glass door. So then you can like, look down. So that’s also not so great for some people. Even Hannah was like, I don’t really like this, but it’s like I think three minutes up or like maybe four minutes up, three minutes down or something like that.
[00:49:59.710] – Tamara Gruber
But then when you get to the top, you have an assigned viewing window. So like we were window five and one on both sides.
[00:50:07.150] – Tamara Gruber
So no one, you know, like you’re not fighting with anyone for like a photo. No one’s leaning into your. Like, you have your own little window again, and I didn’t love it because you had to, she’s getting like a little bit nervous with some heights you had to, like, lean just like you said, like you have to lean to look out the window.
[00:50:24.540] – Tamara Gruber
Yeah, but and also it had been raining and so it was pretty foggy, but it was still is a pretty view. I’m glad we did it. We went downstairs. There was a really cool museum, which, you know, a lot of things.
[00:50:35.130] – Tamara Gruber
She’s like, oh, that’s in our AP history class. And, you know, like all the, you know, things that she had learned recently. So it’s a nice museum. Then they were closing. So we left and we had to leave the building. But it’s pouring torrential rain when we walk out and we have to walk like ten minutes back to the hotel. And so we were like, well, like we just have to walk. Like, I hadn’t brought an umbrella and I had a coat that’s at least like water-Resistant, but hers was not really. And luckily it wasn’t freezing, freezing cold, but it was so torrential, like we were laughing, like we were just so completely soaked, like to our skin that we were just laughing. And we got there.We walked in and Glen was like, oh, my God. Like, look at you guys. And like, the front of our pants were like a completely different color than, like the back of our pants.
[00:51:28.710] – Tamara Gruber
Are you sure that I could feel the water like running down my leg inside my pants, like into my shoe. It was so bad but it was like funny. So we immediately were like, OK, we’re like stripping out of this. I think we yeah.
[00:51:41.160] – Tamara Gruber
We did like a room service, like drop off thing for dinner and we got into like the robes and stuff. Oh. And this was the place it’s called Hotel St. Louis. It’s an autograph collection of Marriott. And it is it was great. Like it was a beautiful, historic kind of property. And are we again got a suite like Glen did the upgrade thing with his points. And it was a huge, beautiful suite. And it had this big bathroom with like this nice shower stall and a tub. But it had something I’ve never seen before. And it had a heated toilet seat with like a built in bidet. But like when I pulled off those wet pants and I sat on that toilet seat and it kind of like, OK, I could stay here. So I don’t know how I always get back to bathrooms.
[00:52:25.830] – Kim Tate
There’s a theme, but I would change our concept of our podcast. It’s like the bathroom by the bathrooms. When you talk, when you travel, I don’t know.
[00:52:33.060] – Tamara Gruber
But it was definitely like if you go to St. Louis, I would stay there. It was in a nice location. It was, you know, really nice. I really liked it. I mean, I guess the highway is like right next to the arch, but I really liked it a lot. And I mean, the only downside was like, you know, there’s no valet and so they don’t have their own garage. So I had to drop them off and, like, go, you know, park like around the corner or whatever, so that it got a little tedious, the kind of. I drop you off and I have to go do all, you know, like it’s nice when you can share some of those responsibilities.
[00:53:05.520] – Tamara Gruber
But then the next morning Glen and Hannah went to have breakfast and I was like, I’m going to it’s a nice day now. So I want to walk down and take some pictures of the arch when it’s not, you know, like pouring rain. So we did that and then we drove and then our plan, you’ll get a kick out of this. I don’t know if I told you the story yet, but our plan was that we were driving to Columbus, Ohio, and the whole point of stopping in Columbus was that we have a nephew at Ohio State. And so we were going to see him and we were going to take him out to dinner and it was going to be so nice to see family.
[00:53:36.750] – Tamara Gruber
And we had contacted him like a month ago and then like a week before. And he confirmed with us this was Friday night. He confirmed with us on Wednesday. And so we had actually reached out to his mom, Glen sister, to ask for recommendations and where to take them for dinner. And she sent that to us. And then Friday morning, Glen had made the reservation on Thursday for dinner. So Friday morning we’re driving. And Glen texted him to say, hey, like, here’s where we made the reservation will pick you up at this time, like where should we pick you up?
[00:54:06.390] – Tamara Gruber
And he writes back, I’m in Florida. Right. And we’re like, what? And so apparently a little bit after he confirmed with us on Wednesday, he decided his grandparents, Glenn’s parents, offered to buy him a ticket to come home for Passover and he decided to go down to Florida and forgot to let you guys forgot to let us know. And along with everyone else in the family that knew we were supposed to visit him.
[00:54:36.300] – Kim Tate
Oh, my goodness. College kids. Yeah, I just. Yeah, that’s frustrating. Yeah.
[00:54:43.890] – Tamara Gruber
So it was another time where we decided that we are going to change our plan because like we were going to have like and I don’t know, like a six hour drive that day and then like a twelve hour drive the next day. So we’re like, why stop in Columbus now?
[00:54:59.040] – Tamara Gruber
Like that’s the only reason we were stopping in Columbus. Let’s just go further. So again, we called and we got it canceled. Luckily, he hadn’t checked in yet. You know, we canceled it. We rebooked for this place just in, like Western. Pennsylvania, south of Pittsburgh, right off the highway, like, you know, just one of those times where you just like looking at the map and looking at the, like, Marriot up, like trying to figure out like where to you know, where to look.
[00:55:22.840] – Tamara Gruber
You know, we’re like, well, there’s no need to go into downtown Pittsburgh. We don’t have time to, like, really check it out. Like, let’s just stay close to the highway and hurry on the next morning to finally get home. So we check in and it was a courtyard. And I will say it’s the only time I’ve not been very happy with the courtyard, but we you know, the room was fine.
[00:55:41.830] – Tamara Gruber
And it’s like Glen has titanium level points and status or whatever, and I can’t tell in these hotels were not full, but every single time we’re like, is an upgrade available? Because I know that they have one bedroom King Suites because they’re on their website, but they’re not available to book with points. So when you get there, we’re like, is an upgrade available? No, it’s not available. Like, really, really, really.
[00:56:04.910] – Tamara Gruber
Somebody booked it. Right, exactly. And then sometimes Glenn would be like, oh, he likes to play dumb because you know how Hilton gives you water like bottles of water if you’re on. Yes. So like Marriott doesn’t do that.
[00:56:16.300] – Tamara Gruber
And so he’ll be like, oh, do you guys give water? So, you know, like I’m titanium. And then I was just like, no, you can buy it at the marketplace. Like, whatever he’s likely seriously. Like, I’m in a Courtyard Marriott. You’re not upgrading me. I’m getting nothing.
[00:56:30.220] – Kim Tate
There’s no knock down right now, like, come on, you know, so they don’t even give you an option now because you can like now I ask and they’re just like, oh yeah, you’ll be getting your two hundred and fifty bonus points or whatever, like that’s your welcome gift or something like crazy.
[00:56:44.860] – Tamara Gruber
Yeah. Sorry. No, it’s just it’s a little disappointing. So we go up and the room is like fine and we’re just tired. There’s really no place nearby to get anything but like fast food. And I’m like, maybe we should go down and see, like, you know, sometimes that marketplace has like frozen meals. You can heat up, you know, and stuff.
[00:57:06.970] – Tamara Gruber
So they had, you know, a couple of things, but they have like, you know, how the courtyards have like the like a bar like bistro like sometimes I’ve never done it except for breakfast. Like we’ll get it like a breakfast sandwich and a Starbucks coffee and go or something. Yeah.
[00:57:21.490] – Tamara Gruber
So they were still open because it was like eight thirty at night, nine o’clock at night and they would do like a flatbread pizza or whatever. So Hannah and I went down and we got that and we brought it up to the room to eat in the room and we had gotten like a king bed and a pull out because I just sleep better if it’s a king bed versus like two queens.
[00:57:38.200] – Tamara Gruber
And so I went to pull out the couch for Hannah. Yeah. And there is you know, they they never give you sheets now because I understand, like, you don’t want like you want fresh sheets, so you always have to ask for it now.
[00:57:53.290] – Tamara Gruber
So when I was down getting the food, I asked, you know, can we have bedding for the pullout? Yes. And then she came back. She’s like, we only have one pillow and I can’t find another blanket and always gets cold. So I like to get her two blankets and we’re like, OK. And then I pull out the bed and it just looks, yeah.
[00:58:11.860] – Kim Tate
Dirty not that’s why I do two queens because those sofa beds are. Yeah. Yeah. Anyway, sorry. Go ahead.
[00:58:19.040] – Tamara Gruber
So I went to make it up and I like lifted you know, you looked like the mattress to tuck it in and there is a condom like it’s in the wrapper, it’s unused. OK, but it was one of those things so I was like yeah no, no. And like I know it’s a hotel. I’m sure there’s been plenty, you know, of action happening on different beds, but like, I don’t know about it.
[00:58:43.090] – Kim Tate
And maybe you didn’t have any I don’t see any results from it. Exactly. And like, maybe it didn’t happen. It didn’t happen because it was unwrapped. Right.
[00:58:51.640] – Tamara Gruber
Oh, but I was kind of like, yeah. And then Glen was like, what? And I like sort of he’s like, fold it back up right now is really funny. He’s like, I’m sleeping on the couch. So we’re like, no, I just sleep on the couch. He’s like, I’m fine. I could fall asleep in a chair. I’m going to sleep on the couch and like, put my foot up in you. And Hannah can be in the the king bed is was like, OK, this is so funny.
[00:59:11.680] – Kim Tate
Sweet Dad. Yeah.
[00:59:13.690] – Tamara Gruber
And then I we drove home and we finally got home and we were very happy.
[00:59:17.950] – Tamara Gruber
So, you know, anyway, long I don’t know if anybody still gets this and I know I’m so sorry. Like rambling, rambling. It’s just like you can tell that I’ve missed talking to Kim too. Yeah.
[00:59:27.910] – Kim Tate
But I hear your listeners hopefully love hearing it.
[00:59:30.670] – Tamara Gruber
I’d fill you in on all those little stories because, you know, honestly, I feel like with family road trips, a lot of it is about those little it is stories, you know, that’s how the memories are made, those little quirks that happen.
[00:59:42.400] – Kim Tate
Exactly. I mean, Hannah and I will not forget, like being soaking wet, you know.
[00:59:47.200] – Tamara Gruber
Yeah, exactly. Things. So I’m sure no one is going to do this exact trip, but maybe you’ve at least gotten some recommendations like, you know, I would definitely recommend the Vista Verde ranch.
[00:59:56.140] – Kim Tate
Yeah, I like different places to go see like, well, an even opening up the idea of spring breaks like a winter ranch type thing, because you think of it so often is summer. So it’s interesting to know that it would be a spring break option
[01:00:08.650] – Tamara Gruber
And actually at this ranch for the last two weeks of March, it’s only they do close for April, so it’s only if you have, you know, a February or March kind of break because it’s like then really their mud season. But for the last two weeks of March, they give, I think, a 15 percent discount. So it is actually a good time to go again.
[01:00:27.010] – Kim Tate
Is there do they do they have a minimum stay?
[01:00:34.630] – Tamara Gruber
It’s a three night stay in the summer. They do the traditional Saturday to Saturday.
[01:00:43.240] – Kim Tate
And I think, you know, even that long, a lot of people have that long President’s Day weekend in February. So that might be a good, good destination for the year. That’s sometimes like a whole week even.
[01:00:52.570] – Kim Tate
Yeah, cool. Well, it’s great to hear all those little I think it was fun. So even though we had a long episode, it was fun to hear everything and feel like we were along on the trip. And I think our listeners like that. So, yeah. Any any little final tips or anything you want to say before we wrap up?
[01:01:11.140] – Tamara Gruber
No, but hopefully in a few weeks we’ll hear a little bit more about your trip. I know a lot of people might want to actually do what you did, so so stay tuned for that.
But in two weeks, we’re going to have an episode with a very popular road trip and the grand circle in the Southwest covering a lot of the national parks and state parks. So definitely stay tuned. Take care. Bye.