Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Road Less Travelled

A number of years ago a copy of The Most Scenic Drives in America compiled by Reader's Digest appeared in our mailbox. A few days later a second copy arrived. That one was returned to the post office unopened, and after a phone call to Reader's Digest explaining that I had ordered neither copy and I was not going to pay the enclosed bill, I was able to keep the first one.

For a long time, the book sat gathering dust on our coffee table, but in 2001 we took Brent and Ben on a driving trip to the western United States and put the book to use, veering off the interstate to follow the more scenic routes suggested by Reader's Digest. The story of that trip will be for a later post and is more appropriate for Brent or Ben to tell.

In the years since, we have used The Most Scenic Drives in America to explore New England, the South and other roads in the West. On our recent trip to Colorado, New Mexico and Utah, we once again took the road less travelled. Here are some pictures from our trip.

The Beaumont Hotel in Ouray, Colorado

Cliff Palace, a large pueblo at Mesa Verde National Park

Mesa Arch at Canyonlands National Park

Landscape Arch at Arches National Park

Monday, August 25, 2008

Power Bars, or How a Blog Was Born

Larry and I are wrapping up a week-long trip to Colorado, New Mexico and Utah. At a convenience store somewhere along Highway 550 in the middle of the New Mexico waste land, we discovered Power Bars. We were tired and hungry, and Larry said that they helped Michael Phelps and the Tour 'de France bicyclists so they would probably work for us. We paid about $1.50 each for two apple-cinnamon Power Bars. It was money well-spent.

Two days later, we stopped at another convenience store as we got to Moab, Utah. We had driven from Mesa Verde National Park and needed gas and more Power Bars. Having passed up stations in Monticello, Utah, selling regular for $4.29, we decided that $3.92 didn't sound too bad. Little did we know that Power Bars were selling for $2.69. We reluctantly bought four--two strawberry and two peanut butter-chocolate chip.

This morning, at a brief (I thought) Wal-Mart stop for eye drops, Larry decided to find out how much Power Bars cost at America's leading retailer. So where would you look for Power Bars at Wal-Mart? They weren't on the racks by the check-out counters. Guess Power Bars don't appeal to kids in shopping carts.

Next, we tried the snack aisle. Plenty of granola bars on the snack aisle, but no Power Bars. Fifteen minutes later, we found them on the cereal aisle. However, Wal-Mart didn't have the exact variety of Power Bars that we had bought at the convenience stores. Five minutes of ingredient reading later, Larry determined that the individually wrapped Power Bars had twice as much protein as those we had bought. The whole-grain varieties came five to a box. How do you begin to compare prices when you can't compare apples to apples or in this case, cinnamon-apple to cinnamon-apple?

Finally back on the road, I sent Ben, our youngest son, a text message which read, "Dad has just spent 15 minutes in Wal-Mart checking out the price of Power Bars."

He replied, "Classic. You should start a blog."

So here it is. By the way, a box of five Power Bars at Wal-Mart in Grand Junction, Colorado, costs $4.67. You do the math.