The next day we headed south from Black Hills to Denver, Colorado, but not without a stop in Fort Collins, a town known well by old roomie Tommy from Puerto Escondido, and where he used to live and work a few years back and recommended quite highly.
After a bite in town at our favourite greasy stop Five Guys, we realised the day was quickly escaping us, so we had to drop a few recommendations off the list and head straight for Horsetooth Reservoir just outside of town. The impressively large reservoir is positioned on top of a hill overlooking the city below, and was so peacefully tranquil. We spent a few quiet minutes taking it all in before continuing on our way, shooting down to Denver to make one of the last Hammond’s Candies factory tours.
Hammond’s Candies have been handmade in Denver since 1920 and are very popular throughout the USA and the world. We decided on taking a free factory tour while in town not only because the handmade candy process is strangely gratifying but also because Anita’s good family friends’ last name is Hammond so it was also a perfect gift opportunity. After a bit of a walk through the factory and a basket of candy for the road, we continued on our way, leaving Denver and heading into the indescribably beautiful mountains of Colorado as day slowly turned to night.
As we wound further up into the mountains towards our marked campsite for the night, the evening began to get progressively darker. We started to notice patches of snow on either side of us as the flicker of civilization disappeared in the mirror behind us. We wound further and further up into the mountains, finally reaching a small, dark pull off leading up into the forest.
We turned onto the dirt road which we soon realised had iced over from the freezing, mountain-high temperatures. Considering how long it took us to get there we decided to give it a crack anyway but to take it slow, so cautiously accelerated forward as we held our breathes. It wasn’t even three seconds after hitting the icy road that the tyres lost traction and the van started to angulate, frantic as I swung the wheel from right to left as I attempted to straighten things up. We continued to slide, almost completely leaving the steep, frozen road and sliding off into the forest of darkness. Thankfully we stopped just in time, then quickly slipped it into reverse and got us the hell out of there. We decided never to attempt anything like that again.
We looked on a map in the direction we were heading and found the location of a highway pull-out just a few kilometres up the road. After a short drive we arrived and were presented with an amazingly beautiful view across a typically quaint mountain town, the small windows of light sparkling like stars in the night. There were quite a few trucks parked and settled in, so we nestled safely between them and were finally able to get comfortable for the night.
The next morning we rose early and found our closest Starbucks so that we could order our usual tall black and make use of the wifi. We sent friend Tommy a message to let him know we were close to his town Edwards, then eventually headed over to say hello and to very appreciatively make use of his shower.
After a brief catch up, a warm wash and a fresh pair of clothes, we were ready and raring, back on the long but exciting road to the magnificent state of Utah.