Tulips, Nederland, and a snow storm

After some relaxing time at Dirt Coffee, I walk around the block to another favorite place. In Tea, a tea store in Littleton that sells about 180 different kinds of tea. As I walk in, the guy at the register looks at me and laughs, saying “I remember you!”, I laugh back at him and answer, “Yeah, it’s been almost a year.” Last year we had nice conversations here about coffee and tea and apparently he hadn’t forgotten about it. We catch up for a while, he makes a pot of tea for me and I sit down to do some writing in my notebook, just like last year. I stay there til the end of the afternoon until it’s time to go to my friends Jen and Jeff. I pick up some things for dinner at the local grocery store and then drive to their house. We make dinner together and catch up on life. Jen has lived in Amsterdam for almost ten years and that’s how we became friends. The past few years I’ve visited them on my roadtrips and that’s how I also became friends with Jef.
On Saturday morning they have some errands to run and I use that opportunity to fill up my car for the roadtrip of next week and to discover another coffee place. I find a really cool place called Mango Tree Coffee. It’s quite big, has stone brick walls and delicious coffee. The place is packed, but I’m lucky and get a table by a window just when my cappuccino is ready. I enjoy some reading and writing time while looking around at the coffee place. To me this is really relaxing and something I enjoy having more time for now in the vacation.
In the afternoon there is a Derby horse race party at their neighbors house. The actual race is only two minutes, but a few hours before and several hours after there is a lot of eating and drinking and dancing. It’s after midnight when we go home, but fortunately that’s just across the street.
Sunday morning Jen and Jeff sleep in a bit to recover from the party, but I’m a morning person and am up early as usual. I drive to downtown Denver to visit the botanical gardens. I’ve been there a few years before and remembered how much I enjoyed walking around there. It’s quite busy this morning, but since the gardens are big it’s not too crowded. I’m surprised to see a lot of beautiful tulips blooming in the center of the gardens. I’m laughing, because it’s quite funny: a guy from the Netherlands looking at tulips in America.
The rest of the gardens are also beautiful, since many flowers and plants are blossoming now in the Spring. After having walked all around the gardens I want to go back to Mango Tree Coffee, but they turned out to be closed on Sundays, so I go to another coffee place and then back to Jen & Jeff. They invite me to another gathering with friends and we have a relaxed time there enjoying food and drinks in the back yard. It’s fun to me that all American meetings seem to evolve around food.
Monday morning it’s time to say goodbye again and I drive north-east in the direction of a small mountain town called… Nederland. I saw it on the other map and figured I needed to stop there. When I arrive though it has started snowing and it’s very cold outside (25°F / -4°C) and so I don’t stay around for too long. I drive along a mountain road to Estes park where the entrance to Rock Mountain national park is. It’s still cold and snowing when I arrive there, so I figure it’s not really weather for hiking today.
I drive further and my family calls. It’s nice to talk with them for a while and I’m thankful that with the technology of today it’s so easy to call all around the world. After half an hour or so I continue driving in the direction of Jackson, Wyoming. In the afternoon I make a stop for gas and eat at Wendy’s for lunch, definitely better than Mc Donalds. I also get some groceries at Walmart and am then ready to continue driving. Just as I enter Interstate 70, red lights come on as they’re closing the highway because of the weather. I realize it a bit too late and also don’t see a good way to turn around, so I keep driving. It doesn’t take long to figure out why they closed the highway. A sign above the road is warning that there are winds of 75mph (120km/h) and it started snowing again. I continue driving slowly. At some point there are several trucks flipped over on the sides of the highway and many cars with dents in them. It looks like there was a big crash. I’m thinking to myself that if I had known this before, I would not have been driving today, but somehow I can also appreciate this adventure. It sure are some of the most extreme weather conditions I’ve ever driven in. After what seems about an hour or so, the weather slowly clears up and I can drive faster again. I drive until it’s almost dark and I’m in a town called Pinedale. I haven’t gotten as far as I hoped I would, but I’m glad I made it to here. I find a hotel in town, check in and call it a day. I’ve been on the road for more than 12 hours and quite a bit tired.
In the morning I wake up to see that the weather has cleared up. I’m glad about that and hope that today’s drive will be a bit more normal again. I take it easy in the morning and after breakfast and a bit of work I drive to a coffee place in town to write this blog and upload the pictures. It’s only about six hours driving from here to my grandma in Montana, so I think I’ll arrive there tonight.

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