“Live life messy and love every minute of it”
State 24: Colorado December 21, 2017
We woke up at a Walmart in Pueblo, CO having had an awful sleep. Last night was the coldest of our entire cross country trip! We have systems in place to sleep comfortably in temperatures between 25 and 90 degrees. Outside of this range, sleeping in back of Rosie becomes very uncomfortable, and can even be potentially dangerous! Last night, the temperature dipped to 9 degrees! BRRR!!! Nate and I barely got any sleep, and experienced teeth chattering shivering all night long! After treating ourselves to a hot tea, we looked at the areas 8-day forecast in search of some relief for the frigid cold, but there was none in the foreseeable future. A massive cold front was moving across the entire US, and the temperatures in the region would remain in the single digits during the overnight hours for at least the next 8 days! I am on this cross country trip to discover America and to find a new home. Freezing to death in the back of a van in a Walmart parking lot is NOT on the agenda! Nate and I made the difficult and painful decision to cut short our week long exploration of Colorado to in search of warmer weather! We would miss Four Corners National Park, which is the only place in the US 4 state's borders merge in one location! We would also miss the park depicted on the reverse of the Colorado State Quarter; “Sand Dune National Park, which is home to the largest sand dunes in North America! Since we are considering Colorado as our possible new home, we were both extremely disappointed to depart the state prematurely. There were no other options! We needed some relief from the blistering cold Colorado nights!
I began searching online weather forecasts to find a place with warmer winter nights South of our current location in Pueblo, CO. The next decent sized town was Santa Fe, NM! Nope! 10 degrees over night! After Santa Fe was Albuquerque! Not going to work! 15 degrees over night! After Albuquerque was Las Cruces, NM! 20 degrees overnight! Getting warmer, but not warm enough! We had one option left sitting right on the US/Mexico border; El Paso, TX! If El Paso’s nightly temps were less than 25 degrees, we would have to cross into Mexico! Rosie was made in Mexico, and we figured it would be fun to tour the factory where she was built! However, after our fiasco at the security check point at the Hoover Dam, Nate and I both did NOT want to take Rosie through customs! (To read about our hassle at the Hoover Dam please click here). With anxious anticipation, we clicked on the 8 day weather forecast for El Paso, TX, and the overnight temperature was 40 degrees for the next 8 days!!! We finally found a place where we could wait for the cold front to pass. This was great news! However, the not so good news was El Paso is 525 miles South of our current location! According to Google Maps, the drive would take 7 hours and 42 minutes to complete, and we would break the drive up over 2 days! This would also take us far from our plotted path on our cross country trip. After completing our visit to Colorado, we were supposed to enter Arizona at it's Northeastern point. We would now have to drive straight across Southern New Mexico, enter Arizona in the Southeast, and re-route all of the scheduled stops for both states! I clearly had a lot of planning ahead, and Nate had many hours of fruitless driving in the coming days! At least we would not freeze to death!
Before departing for El Paso, I had to squeeze in one last stop! We were in search of The Cross Country Couple's "Famous Food" for Colorado; green chile sauce. When I think of green chile, Southwestern states such as New Mexico and Arizona are what typically come to mind. I was shocked to discover the popularity of green chile in this state! It is Colorado’s secret sauce! They eat it with everything!
Unfortunately, chicken stock and pork are staple ingredients in Colorado's Green Chile, which are not vegetarian. I took to google to find a restaurant, diner or even some grandma’s kitchen who made a vegetarian green chile sauce! This reminded me of my search a few months ago for Michigan's "Famous Food"; the pasty, which you can read about by clicking here.
As I was reading the online menus of various Pueblo restaurants, I noticed a recurring menu item of interest called the “Pueblo Slopper” Nate said the “Pueblo Slopper” sounded like the reigning heavy weight champion of professional wrestling! Apparently the Pueblo Slopper is a regional famous food consisting of a burger, a grilled bun, chopped onions smothered in green chile sauce, and are eaten with a fork, knife and spoon. According to the local legend, the Pueblo Slopper was created in Gray’s Coors Tavern by owners and brothers Johnnie and Joe Greco. Sometime in the mid 1970’s, a customer named Herb complained to the Greco brothers about the small amount of chile on his burger. In response they sent Herb another burger with bun and all absolutely covered in chile. Herb ate the burger, and actually found it quite delicious. Every time Herb came in, he ordered his burger smothered in chile, and eventually, it was added to the menu. From it's humble beginnings at the Gray Coors Tavern, the Pueblo Slopper became a famous local food, and even achieved national acclaim in 2010 after being featured on the Travel Channel show; “Food Wars”!
Our famous food for Colorado just evolved into the Pueblo Slopper! Not only did I need to find a vegetarian green chile sauce, I now needed to find it served over a veggie burger! Pueblo is a respectable sized city with 106,595 residents, so I began calling dozens of restaurants in search of a vegetarian version of the Pueblo Slopper! I hit one dead end after another! One chef I spoke with got offended, and screamed “A green chile sauce isn’t a green chile sauce without pork”. He then hung up on me! How rude! Apparently they take their sloppers very seriously around these parts! After dozens of frustrating phone calls, I finally found a restaurant with a veggie burger on the menu. In all honestly, it was a frozen Boca burger, which is made from soy and is disgusting. With no other options available, I would take whatever I could get at this point. Unfortunately, the green chile the restaurant served had pork in it.
At this point, I decided to put my slopper search on hold, and picked up a few essentials from the local supermarket. Would you know, while I was walking down the condiment isle, I found a jar of vegetarian green chile! I was so excited! In the middle of Isle 11, I called the restaurant back whom had the veggie burger, and asked him if I could bring my own green chile to put on his veggie burger! I was shocked to discover he would not let me! The chef stated outside food is not allowed in his restaurant, and he makes his own green chile. I inquired if he would make us a vegetarian green chili to which he flat out refused. “My green chili is the best in Pueblo! How dare you ask me to change my recipe”, he stated prior to hanging up on me! Despite 2 hours of online research and phone calls, it appears the Cross Country Couple would miss out on the Famous food for Colorado “The Pueblo Slopper”. We departed Pueblo, and began our long 2 day drive South to El Paso. We will be taking a few days off the road until after Christmas.