I may have said earlier this year that I’m not traveling a lot due to Ironman training … which is still a very true statement, but this trip went along with that … as we were racing a 70.3!
Much like IMChoo three years ago, this race was picked due to time of year as well as for the opportunity to knock off a few states (Idaho and Montana). I won’t go into race details, but I will talk about this trip because we both really enjoyed it.
Tuesday, June 25
Although the race was Sunday, we left several days early in order to play a bit of tourist on the way. Our first day took us to Idaho Falls, Idaho.
Sunrise leaving town.
We grabbed Starbucks in downtown Fort Collins and ate breakfast at some small little local place (original plan was Waffle House, but apparently the Waf in FoCo is closed …?) called the Ever Open Cafe. We’d grabbed (a very mediocre) lunch there before, and breakfast wasn’t too much better. We hopped back on 287 which took us to Wyoming where we caught up with I-80 and then took that to US-191. While on 191, we grabbed lunch at what is probably best described as a permanent food truck off the road in Pinedale, Wyo. – the Burger Barn. Too much pepper on both the burgers and the fries, but hey – eating local is awesome.
From 191 we caught up with US-89 and then to US-26 which would take us to Idaho Falls.
We did, however, see this place in Alpine, Wyo., which cracked both of us up. An old friend from the USCHO days had Brenthoven as his handle on the message board so to see this??
We got into Idaho Falls and took the bikes out for a quick spin. Dinner was at a cute place we saw while riding, the Sandpiper Restaurant.
That bread? To die for.
Cute place, would definitely go back. After dinner, we stopped at Chick-fil-a for bike food for Sunday (last time we’d be close to one) and then walked around this Alpine Garden thing that’s on the banks of the river.
I also wanted to walk over to what we thought were the falls but apparently not. Oops.
Wednesday, June 26
We didn’t wake up quite as early as hoped, but still definitely too early for hotel breakfast. We grabbed Starbucks leaving Idaho Falls and then drove to West Yellowstone, Montana, as seeing Yellowstone National Park was our agenda for the day. Since our America the Beautiful pass had expired, we quickly popped over to the park to renew that and then headed back into town for breakfast. We ate at the Running Bear Pancake House, which wasn’t too terrible (remember, we have super high breakfast standards).
Food consumed, it was park time!
Pulled over to see a bison (buffalo?) and mostly missed it, but got this view.
Dinosaurs and geothermal pools.
Fountain Paint Pots.
Waiting for Old Faithful.
Faithful for us!
Lady at the entrance gate wasn’t wrong – bison are EVERYWHERE. People were ignoring this one until they stood up. Then OMG LOOOOOOOOK.
At this point in the day (a little after noon), there were so many people that we were ready to escape after seeing only a small fraction of the park … but the last thing I really wanted to see was the Grand Prismatic Spring … and #worthit.
Plus we got held up by a Yellowstone traffic jam on the way out. Seriously saw probably over 100 bison. SO COOL!
After we escaped that, we stopped in town for lunch (we did have a simple snack at the park to help tide us over). We were going to try a barbecue place, but couldn’t find a server/anyone to tell us what to do (wait to be seated? seat ourselves?) … so we went a door or so down to the Canyon Street Grill for essentially a diner lunch. It did the trick. After, we grabbed a quick bit of ice cream at the City Creamery before heading out of town.
Our stop for the night (and indeed the next day or so) was Bozeman, Mont. Dinner that night was our first non-Starbucks chain stop … in Olive Garden. We didn’t feel like moving out of the hotel, so we called in an order and I made B go pick it up. It was food.
Thursday, June 27
We ate a quick breakfast at the hotel and then drove over to a local park to get a run in. Run done, it was (surprise, surprise) Starbucks time.
Today was mostly a lazy layover day in Bozeman that we scheduled in … but we did go to the Museum of the Rockies for two reasons:
1. DINOSAURS (duh)
2. free admission thanks to our DMNS membership.
Humans would look really funny as sauropods.
Never realized dinos grew so fast. Also: there were apparently burrowing dinosaurs. Which, if you take that modern birds descended from them, it makes sense – we do have burrowing owls.
Well hello gorgeous.
Triceratops skulls, from juvenile to adult.
The museum also had a bit on early Montana history (settlers and whatnot) and also an exhibition on Genghis Khan that was pretty cool. The flow was such that you just went from exhibit to exhibit. Basically, you see everything whether you want to or not!
Lunch was cobbled together from a local grocery store, Heebs, and the rest of the afternoon was super chill. We ventured out that evening, grabbing sushi/teriyaki at Wasabi Japanese Steak House and then to Genuine Ice Cream Company downtown.
Friday, June 28
One of my former SMASH teammates (and pro triathlete) Haley Chura lives in Bozeman and offered to swim “with” us (she’s way faster … it’s more like “share a pool with five lanes down”). I had hoped for Thursday, but Friday was when it could happen. So, we woke up early and headed to the Bozeman Swim Center where we got to swim in their gorgeous 50m pool (first time I’ve ever been in a 50m pool!). I didn’t get in much (didn’t eat prior), but it was still awesome. We talked to Haley, left to go pack up the car (and grab a small bite at the hotel), and then rejoined up with her and a few friends at the Feed.
That’s how I like my cappuccino foam.
After eating and chatting for a while, it was back on the road to head to Coeur d’Alene.
The hotel was very athlete friendly.
We checked in to the race and grabbed lunch downtown at San Francisco Sourdough. Back to the hotel to digest and go for a shakeout run.
I had gotten a food suggestion from my friend Katie on Fire Pizza, but the wait there was INSANE for dinner, so we ended up at Cricket’s Restaurant and Oyster Bar which … well, it did the trick.
Saturday, June 29
At this point, the super fun part of our trip turned into race prep. We ate breakfast at the hotel and then drove down to get in a practice swim in Lake Coeur d’Alene. That lake? I miss it. So much.
We went back to the hotel to get on our bikes for one last shakeout spin.
We stopped at Terre Coffee on our way to drop off our bikes/go to the athlete briefing. I highly recommend them – great homemade cinnamon rolls. Cappuccino was good, not great, but that cinnamon roll? So good.
At the finish line!
Lunch was finally at Fire Pizza, and the recommendation was definitely worth it. We split a caprese salad and then each got our own pizza. I think B did a pepperoni and sausage. I did the pesto chicken with added mushrooms.
So delicious. We saved the leftovers and ate them on our drive two days later.
Dinner was our standard breakfast-for-dinner, which we got at a local place called Elmer’s Restaurant. Sure, you can mostly find an IHOP, or Village Inn, or Denny’s anywhere, but to be able to find a local place like this? So much better, and Elmer’s did the trick. I’d recommend them, too.
Sunday, June 30
For the purposes of this story, Sunday was race day. Early wake up, breakfast at the hotel (thank you so much Hampton Inn for putting it out early for us athletes!), “lunch” eaten while on the bike and at the post-race athlete feed.
We did venture out again for dinner post-race and got burgers at Coeur d’Alene Taphouse Unchained (… I think?), which did the trick.
Monday, July 1
We got a bit of a lazy start … mostly because we were actually able to sleep and sleep well post-race. Breakfast was at the hotel and coffee was back at Terre Coffee as we met up with a friend of mine to finally be able to have the time to sit and chat. We left Betsy, grabbed more coffee at Starbucks (… one of those days), and then headed out of town with Billings, Mont., our destination for the night.
Besides snacking on all the other random food we had on us (watermelon leftover from our lunch in Bozeman, leftover pizza), lunch was a small bite at a Taco Bell in Butte. We stopped in Bozeman again to hopefully find some of the most delicious root beer known to man (Grand Teton Brewing Company’s Old Faithful Root Beer). We picked up a few cans at Genuine Ice Cream – yes, we went back. I got a root beer float – but that was the only place we got it as we called around to five different places and nothing.
Dinner was another chain in Texas Roadhouse … mostly because it was next door to our hotel in Billings and we didn’t have to venture too far.
Tuesday, July 2
We woke up decently early in Billings to be able to hit the road. As much as we loved our trip … it was time to get home.
Stopped at Starbucks for coffee (go figure) and then to Stella’s Kitchen and Bakery in downtown Billings for breakfast. B had eaten there on a layover and said they had dino pancakes … which dude.
They were good … but the waitress made me feel like a complete idiot for ordering them. It’s not what she said (nothing), but the look that she gave me throughout my order, making me try to justify getting them. I’m sorry, but that’s rude, and made both of us never want to go back there. B had loved that place and they put a very sour taste in both our mouths.
Then it was just I-90 east to I-25 south to home (with a stop at Waffle House in Frederick for lunch).