Author’s note: This is the first in a series of articles chronicling the Offutt Family Vacation. Pray for me.

Our family vacation is this week and I’m a bit scared. If you’re a rational person, you’ll understand why soon enough.

There are two methods to prepare for a trip:

No. 1) Plan early, map the route with the detail of a scientific experiment, have the hotel rooms booked so far in advance construction on the building may not be finished by the time you arrive, and schedule each day to hit every sight and roadside attraction America has to offer.

No. 2) Get in the car and drive.

My wife’s a planner and has organized all our family vacations. They’ve been memorable, fun-filled and childhood-memory worthy. These vacations were so well done that even I couldn’t screw them up.

And me? I’m a No 2. I drove to Canada once and my preparation consisted of two pair of clean underwear, a mug of coffee and a vague idea I should head north.

For this year’s vacation to Colorado, my wife said, “We’ll do it your way.”

My way? She can't be serious. I once suggested Narnia for our family vacation and went online to buy a Victorian wardrobe when she told me Narnia didn't exist, which is fine, I guess. I can't imagine the cost of shipping something that big to my house all the way from the 19th century.

You see? I’m in trouble.

“Since you’re planning this,” my wife said, “what do you know about Colorado?”

Colorado? Isn’t that some kind of Mexican food? “Well, if I’m looking at our state on a map, Colorado’s to the left.”

She frowned. “What else?”

“It’s covered in pointy things.”

Now with the eyebrows? Why’s she raising her eyebrows?

“Are you serious?” she asked.

I lifted my hands over my head. “Yeah, big pointy things. Tall, like this.”

“Lord have mercy. What else?”

More? It’s never enough with her.

“The word ‘cheeseburger’ was trademarked by Denver restaurateur Louis Ballast in 1935. Nederland, Colorado, hosts the ‘Frozen Dead Guy Days’ festival in honor of Bredo Morstoel, a cryogenically-frozen man housed there. Colfax Avenue in Denver is the longest continuous street in the United States at 26 miles long ...”

I stopped to take a breath.

“And since Colorado voters passed Amendment 64 in 2012 to make the sale and use of marijuana legal, the industry has accounted for $160 million to the Department of Education for school construction and topped $1 billion revenue in 2018.”

She glared at me. “There’s something wrong with you.”

“You sound like all those doctors.”

“But you know what? That’s OK, it’s your turn. Have fun.”

And that was it. With that painful discussion, I was officially planning our vacation in a way that would get us all the way to the Centennial State, expose us to tons of outdoorsy-mountainy things (and possibly second-hand marijuana), may or may not involve Sasquatch, and get us home safely.

Now you understand why I’m scared.

Next week: Part two.


Jason’s newest book, “Chasing American Monsters: 251 Creatures, Cryptids, and Hairy Beasts,” is available at