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I had plans for a trip through Denver, but that trip fell through. I was super excited because I wanted to go to Wayne's Smoke Shack for the first time this year. I hadn't been since my last 5 hour detour there on a trip. So I decided I was still gonna do a trip to Denver. 

As usual trying to find a copilot was rather tricky. However, I managed to talk Nichola of English Rose Photography into tagging along. Sure was nice to not only have a copilot with me for a trip, but another photographer. 

Some of the main stops on the trip were Monument Valley, 4 corners, Mesa Verde National Park, The Million Dollar Highway, Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Rocky Mountain National Park, Salt Lake City, Cedar Breaks National Monument, Zion National Park and Horseshoe Bend. A lot of it was to introduce Nichola into the road trip and travel life since she has never really seen much of Arizona let alone other states, and for me to check out a few new places.... and get some BBQ at Wayne's Smoke Shack. 

Our first stop was Monument Valley. Which is a mandatory stop if you've never been before. Hell, its a mandatory stop if you've been there before. I've been a few times, even stayed at the hotel. The View hotel is AMAZING if you want to stay in the area. Its a regular motel, but it lives up to the name, and you pay for it... but I think its worth it. The views from the gift shop and restaurant are awesome, but if you're up for it, take the drive down into the valley. It's not that tough, specially if you have AWD like the MINI Countryman. 

Side note, check out that stance. Living up to the tourist lifestyle. Or just the tall person struggle. 

After passing trucks in Monument Valley we made our way to 4 corners and Mexican Hat, Utah. I've been to both before, and even snagged a photo to match one of my mom's Paceman during a trip we went on when she first got the car. 4 Corners was pretty packed as far as I know. I've been a few times and never saw the line this long. Might have something to do with it being summer time for schools. Either way, we waited, she got her photos all spread out and I snagged my GoPro shot. 

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After Cutting into Colorado, we stayed in Durango. Pretty glad we pushed through a bit and stayed here. We were recommended to check out the Diamond Belle Saloon and it was a great recommendation! Decent food, good drinks and a really fun atmosphere! I still don't understand why people go on trips and then go to places that you can go to back home. I'll gladly take a place like this over Applebee's. 

To top off the night they have wagon rides that roll through the streets. You can even get a Wells Fargo style wagon... I really wish my phone didn't die. 

Now is where we got a little off plan. We pretty much skipped Mesa Grande since we pushed through to Durango. Since we were a little further than we had planned and I wanted to check out a spot I had done with my mom during a previous trip, The Million Dollar Highway. I had done it with a friend last year, but it was the worst snow I had ever driven in. I couldn't even see the hood of my car at times, let alone the semi-truck I was following. No way could I have made the shot I wanted to do. This time, it worked out well as the weather was perfect. Nichola got her hump day photo, I made her a voice activated remote for the photo below and managed to snag a short timelapse. After that, we were coming up on the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. I had passed it a few time before and never stopped. BOY AM I GLAD WE STOPPED. Being as it was new to me and it's amazing, it was one of my favorite stops on this trip. 

After the drive through the 550 we decided to call it a night in Colorado Springs. Another randomly great and awesome choice. We ended up at a place called Cowboy Star, despite the reviews on Yelp. I use Yelp a lot to find places to eat when on the road, but you have to take reviews with a grain of salt. I couldn't have been happier with my meal. I ordered a dry-aged steak and they even brought it out to me like a bottle of champagne to show me the marbling... I was rather in awe of that act that I forgot to take a photo till after she walked away.  It came to a point where we were just taking anything the bartender recommended and he was killing it. I guess a lot of time, your experience at a restaurant is what you make it. 

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After the stop in Colorado Springs, we were on our way to the reason for the whole trip. Well not really. I joke I went on this trip for BBQ, and it is the main reason I decided to do this trip, but I wouldn't drive all the way to Colorado just for food. Well maybe, but I gotta do what I did and eat awesome food along the way. 

Here, we have Wayne's Smoke shack. Hands down my favorite BBQ. Like I said in the start of the post. I have literally driven 5 hours out of the way on my last road trip to come eat here by myself. I had hoped my friend Dempsey was in town, but since it was last minute, he was out of town. I know it may not be the best BBQ ever, but its the best I have had, and I wanted it for my birthday. Don't care, sorry, not sorry. 

After Wayne's we checked into our hotel and started to explore Denver and of course the local bars. 

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After Denver we made our way to the Rocky Mountain National Park. I went on a trip last year on my own, on my way to Wayne's funny enough, coming from Devils Tower in Wyoming. I found out the Alpine Visitor Center is the highest in the National Park system so I had to put it on the schedule. I've already had my car at the highest paved road, why not the highest NPS Visitor Center. After RMNP, our next stop was Salt Lake City... Well technically we stopped in Rawlins, Wy, but there wasn't much there other than food and a bed... and drinks. While in SLC, I wanted to get a tattoo from Day at Salt City Tattoo. Nichola wanted to float in the Great Salt Lake. She found out it takes a bit of a walk to get to a point where you can float. 

After SLC we pretty much started to make our way home. Only planned stops were Cedar Breaks National Monument, which was awesome, Zion, also awesome, and Horseshoe Bend.... you guessed it, awesome. Once back home, at least for Nichola we had dinner at Bourbon and Bones, because I can't not eat there if I have the chance. Great way to end a trip. 

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Heres some random shots that I didn't include in the post... Most are just from the Snapchat or IG story... Don't forget to follow me! @stretch1904

If you've read this far, THANK YOU! As a sign of my apprciation, here's a code to 50% off any of my Print Galleries: JayWalking

Be sure to follow all our Instagram accounts if you want to follow our adventures in the future!

Stretch: @stretch1904 | @1904photography - Nichola: @inkedroseaz | @englishrosephotography

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  • Billy's Barbeque

    on December 7, 2017

    Awesome Stretch! My Petite Red Headed Passion Flower and I had an adventure a few years ago. Rode our bike all over the south western corner of Colorado. The highlight was the Million Dollar Highway! Great story sir!

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