Howdy Mr. Mayor & Fellow Travelers,
Sorry to join this virtual (for most of us) road trip so late, as I've driven and eaten on a lot of these roads fairly recently and have a lot of opinions. My wife and I plan to spend Memorial Day weekend in Durango and Mesa Verde, and I was looking for the remarks that I thought I remembered from one of the forums regarding the restaurant at Mesa Verde (in fact, it was in a discussion labelled "National Parks" at http://www.roadfood.com/Forums/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=2610)
when I found my way to the Mayor's trip report. The following comments are based on two road trips we took in the last year that included parts of southern Utah as well as regular trips to southern Colorado:
We've rendezvoused with my brother's family in Cañon City a couple of times, but haven't found a restaurant that both my wife and my brother's famiy have liked. Good to know about El Chapaola for next time.
Stayed in Montrose to visit the Black Canyon five years ago. We ate at the Starlite-manufactured diner there (don't remember the name). The food/experience was soulless and pre-packaged--will try the Red Barn next time.
The Serious Texas Barbecue is owned by the brother of an old (vegetarian!) friend of mine. We ate there the first night of our southern Utah road trip last June. My wife, who does the barbecue eating for both of us since I'm currently not a meat-eater, pronounced herself quite satisfied. Some of the other barbecue places that you visited looked worth a stop--I'm sure that I'll revisit and mine this travelog on future trips of ours.
As I understood it, all of the Four Corners states decided to renumber their portions of U.S. 666 because of the number's diabolical associations, not because the signs disappeared (although they certainly became collectors' items once the renumbering was announced).
I think that Bluff probably offers more interesting restaurant options than Blanding--we had a tasty dinner at the trading post in town there at the end of the June trip.
I've not yet made it to Monument Valley--I look forward to seeing the train. Too bad you won't be in the area a few weeks from now--they'll be running RGS Galloping Goose #5 on the Cumbres and Toltec for four or five days.
The Bumbleberry unfortunately was closed when we were in Springdale on New Year's Eve. We got quite decent dinner takeout from the Bit and Spur, then had OK breakfast at the Pioneer Lodge before getting to enjoy Zion in the really off season.
Southern Utah may have the highest concentration of mind-bogglingly gorgeous scenery in the southwest.
Those of you for whom all these places are unfamiliar may be amused to hear that when WE drove over Boulder Mountain and through Boulder last June, it was through several inches of slush (in answer to one question, yes it's difficult to pack properly for a trip through that area; when dressing that morning in our motel in Hanksville, east of Capitol Reef, I had almost decided to wear shorts). You don't mention visiting Hell's Backbone Grill in Boulder, where we joined other refugees from the inclement weather for a tasty if pricey breakfast; perhaps they haven't yet opened for the season. I would have liked to try the Capitol Reef Cafe, but we decided to have our fancy Torrey dinner at Cafe Diablo, which I would also recommend, although be warned that it's on the nouvelle (or is it nouveau? I can never remember) side.
I'm envious of your getting to drive down the Burr Trail & the Capitol Reef loop; neither seemed like a good place to take a Toyota Echo (and, for that matter, I think that you couldn't drive the loop when we were there due to washouts).
Are you taking I-70 or going back through Blanding en route to Moab? I look forward to hearing where you eat in Moab.
To the waterlogged New Englanders who've commented enviously: I moved from Boston to Santa Fe 10 years ago; if you lived here, I think you'd get to missing the moisture even while enjoying the weeks on end of beautiful sunny days. We're expecting the Forest Service and other entities to close down pretty much all the public land in northern New Mexico any day now because of fire danger (less rain/snow in the last six months here than many of you got to see in an hour).
I look forward to the remaining installments.
Santa Fe, NM
"All road trips all the time"