22. GRAND JUNCTION, CO

(Alert! Start with Day 1 of our “30 Days x 30 Cities” blog series to follow this trip from the start)

Other than the fact that it has a cool, Western mountain town-sounding name, I knew next to nothing about Grand Junction, CO.

Entering from the south, I quickly learned that it was at the junction of, duh, the Colorado and Gunnison rivers. But my impromptu geography class didn't make it past the bridge — with 250 miles still left to cover that day, I made peace with the fact that this would be little more than a quick scouting adventure, social studies would have to wait for another trip.

Author's Note: At some point in our regular lives, we adopted the idea of taking turns to plan out each week's adventure. Instead of sitting in our driveway, mindlessly naming off dinner options, or desperately searching Flixster at the very last minute, we share the duties of crafting an action-packed or food-centric or restful or house chore-filled weekend. In theory, it keeps one of us from dominating our social life and neither of us can complain that our life sucks — well, not without acknowledging that we bear some of that responsibility at least.

On this day, Grand Junction was supposed to be our lunch stop but, after some healthy car snacking, we decided to reward ourselves with dessert instead. It was technically Zan's day to pick so we went in search of his go-to pick — gelato...

Note: Zan had supplemented his counting roadkill to spotting "tatanka" along the way. You could imagine his delight when we spotted the life-sized sculpture above!

Lucky for us, the entire city was shut down that afternoon for an off-road, mountain bike race called the Grand Junction Off-Road Endurance Mountain Bike race. (No snarky remarks about it being an epic ride.)

Not only was I impressed with the energy and professionalism of the event, but also the fact that the promo posters featured a bad-ass female mountain biker. Say what?

For the first time in weeks, we took our time walking. The weather was gorgeous, the gelato at Gelato Junction was as authentic as anything we'd had in Italy, and the town was cycling and public art friendly.

Really, who could ask for more?