This spring break, my boyfriend and I planned a trip. This was different from my previous spring breaks because this is the first year that I planned a trip without my mom. Usually, we go camping somewhere in Texas like Inks Lake State Park with the entire family. This time it was just me and Derek*. The thing about this trip is… We didn’t really plan it. It just kind of happened. We knew where we wanted to go but we didn’t know when we would leave, what we would do, or even where we would sleep every night. All we planned out was that we would go to Palo Duro in Amarillo, Texas and Colorado. Derek and his dad transformed his Rav4 into what Derek calls the “adventuremobile”. It has a bed and room for out clothes, food, and propane stove. Here’s how it went:
Day One. We were supposed to leave Saturday morning but that didn’t exactly happen. We got up late and we weren’t even close to ready. We still hadn’t bought food, loaded the car, and he hadn’t packed his bag. I went shopping while he cleaned the car and we ended up leaving around 4 pm. It was pouring rain in Conroe at the time so we drove as far as we could before exhaustion hit us, which was until Witchita Falls. We got there at 2 am and drove to a “free campsite” that I had looked up on the way. Of course, it was closed, as most parks close from 4 to 6 pm. We drove to a planet fitness because Derek got a membership for $20 a month so we could shower and have a bathroom everywhere we went. We brushed our teeth and drove to a Walmart parking lot to sleep for the night. As we were setting up the bed, we realized that he had forgotten our pillows and blankets! We had to go into the Walmart and buy some which was a disaster. As we were about to check out, the registers failed because of the time change for daylight savings. We had to wait an extra 30 minutes when we were already exhausted at 2 am. That did not go well for us.
Day Two. When we woke up, the car wouldn’t start. Day two was also not starting so great… It turned out Derek had left the headlights on all night, draining our battery. He tried to start it but nothing worked. I had to call Triple A for them to jump start it (thank goodness my mom always drilled into my head to keep my Triple A card on me). After that little hiccup, we headed to planet fitness again to get ready for the day. We ate cereal with berries for breakfast and started our drive to Amarillo where we parked at a rest stop around 7 pm. The drive there was completely flatlands, I thought there was no way we were heading toward a canyon. Even five minutes away from out destination, it was still flat. I almost started freaking out! Then all of a sudden, whoosh! We were descending into the bottom of a giant, vast, beautiful canyon. Our rest stop was at the top of the canyon so we had a beautiful view of the sunset. As the sun was setting, we took a quick hike around the area. I was breathless with the beauty. Palo Duro was amazing! We began to cook and a couple visitors told us that there was a fire ban but our contained propane stove should be okay (it turns out it wasn’t). We cooked chicken, broccoli, and pasta, which I spilled half of while attempting to strain. Then we headed to bed around 10 pm after brushing our teeth.
Day Three. We woke up to an amazing sunrise on the canyon. Our plan was to spend the day in Palo Duro State Park. We ate breakfast and drove to the state park where I realized that the fire ban was so extensive here, we weren’t even allowed to use a lighter. We showered there and began the hardest trail in the area. Derek was so happy, he strayed off the trail, bounded from rock to rock, and climbed up and down with me following him. He’s quite the adventurer when he’s in nature. Each time he would find a taller rock to climb. We eventually found our way back to the trail and followed it to the top of the canyon. It went along the edge of the canyon, giving us an amazing view of the area. It kept going on and on, we ended up turning around about three-fourths of the way there to which it ended up being a 3 hour hike. We finished and got something to eat at sonic and Braums since there was a fire ban. The white chocolate macadamia nut ice cream at Braums was so good! I can’t wait to go there again, although I don’t think we have them in Conroe. Then we drove 6 more hours to Colorado springs. We finally got there at 2 am (again) and slept in another Walmart parking lot.
Day Four. I found a park by a lake where we ate our breakfast. It was so windy, our cereal boxes almost flew away! The fact that we could see the snowy Rocky mountains was my favorite part. I thought we would go to Denver today but Derek then had the idea to go to Pikes Peak! The entrance fee was $10 a person (which I thought was a little lame… Why do we have to pay to see a mountain?) and we drove up the mountain. It was about 14,000 feet high and covered in snow! We stopped several times before reaching the top. Once to get a sticker for Derek’s travel sticker collection, another time to hike on the devil’s playground. The devil’s playground was crazy windy and I think it was called that for the reddish-orange rocks that it had and also because if you slipped on the snow and fell… Well, you would definitely die. We reached the top eventually where there was a gift shop and food. We decided to grab a pizza at a place we saw on the way and then we headed to the Roosevelt National Forest near Boulder for the night.
Day Five. We woke up to snow. Not alot of snow, but it was so cool! We hadn’t seen the snow on the way up because it was dark. We began a hike up there where we slipped on a lot of snow threw rocks around. I kept finding beautiful rose quartz. On the hike, we heard something stomping on the mountain! Something way to big to be a person. Derek and I assumed it was a bear and we were glad that it hadn’t come sniffing near us! We ate breakfast and showered and headed down the mountain toward boulder. I stopped by JC Penny’s because I left my socks on the roof of the car to dry because they were wet and I completely forgot about them when we were driving. I accidently broke Derek’s glasses on day four so we also went to a repair shop but with no luck… In the end he fixed them with two zip ties. We decided to go and see the city of Denver and we walked along 16th mall street. It was so pretty. I liked how you could still see the mountains from the center of the city. A friend of my dads lived in Denver and said we could crash at her place, a nice change from sleeping in the car, so we saw the movie Before I Fall and went to sleep there.
Day Six. Thankfully, we didn’t have to drive to planet fitness that morning because we were in an apartment! We had a late start so we bought some more groceries because we were running low and drove back to Roosevelt National Forest to set up for the night. We hiked while there was still daylight and then we cooked on top of our cooler. Teriyaki flavored chicken, pasta, and broccoli!
Day Seven. The next day, our last day, I had a very clear plan. Hot springs. That’s all I wanted. Derek likes places that aren’t too commercialized so I specifically sought out Radium Springs right along the Colorado river. It was three hours away from where we currently were. The drive was incredible! We got there around 3 pm and followed the directions to the springs… Four hours later, we still couldn’t find it! We went up several trails, drove through jeep roads and almost popped some tires. The directions were worthless! We finally did find it but because there were too many people, we didn’t even end up swimming in it. Instead, we camped out at a Walmart in Denver again and the next day we drove back home.
There were some mistakes on this trip and things we definitely learned from but I would do it again in a heartbeat. I recommend Colorado to anyone looking for a new adventure. It is such a beautiful state with tons to do.
(*Names have been changed)