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Burlington, Colorado


My family spent last Thanks Giving visiting relatives in Oklahoma.  On the way over, we stopped in Burlington, Colorado to spend the night.

Burlington is a strange place.

The Pizza Hut closes at 8:30 PM, as the employees told me after I walked in the unlocked door at 8:34 (giving me the impression that if I'd walked in 15 minutes earlier I still would have been turned away pizzaless, being so close to closing time).

We didn't want fast food, so I went looking for the Chinese food place that was supposed to be between the Burlington Inn and the freeway and listed as being open until 9:30 PM.  As I approached where the restaurant should have been, I didn't see it, so I pulled my car into the gate to the Burlington Inn's parking lot and was greeted with a large sign that stated:

Trespassers will be prosecuted

I made a mental note to be sure to not enter any McDonald's customers and continued on.

The inn's sign pillar was illuminated and there was a light on in the lobby, but there was zero illumination among the several motel rooms arranged in an L-shape.  As I circled the empty parking lot back toward the lobby, I spotted a sign claiming “Chinese Food” and “We're Open” in a dark window, and then I noticed that one of the illuminated signs on the pillar was for the “Lucky Garden Chinese Restaurant,” “Open Tuesday through Sunday.”  Was it Monday and I forgot in my travel-induced addled state?  No, it was definitely Tuesday.

I entered the lobby and a Chinese guy came out of the backroom and asked if he could help me.  I said that I was looking for the Chinese restaurant, and he pointed to his left and said it was down the hallway.  The dimly lit hallway.

I said, “The lights are off,” which surprised the guy who was basically the inn's gatekeeper.  I walked the 10 feet to the restaurant's double doors which were wide open, through which I could see chairs stacked on tables in a darkened room, and next to the door hung a sign stating that the restaurant was supposed to be open until 9:30.  It was 8:45.

I walked back to the front desk and said, “Did the restaurant close early?  It's only 8:45!”

The clerk simply said, “I don't know.”

Next I headed to the Safeway to get some water and snacks for the next day, as I had heard somebody say the grocery store would be closing at 9:00, which seemed unusually early.

On my way out of Safeway, just after 9:00, I called my wife, who was at the motel room with the kids, to see if she wanted to settle for fast food.  She said that she wanted Arby's, but it had closed at 9:00.

Surprisingly the Burger King drive-through would still be open until 11:00, so that's what we ended up having for dinner.  When I paid for the food, the window attendant told me that we were waiting on fresh fries, so she asked me to pull forward and said she would bring my order out to me.  This is a normal thing to do during peak hours, but seemed like an odd thing to do in Burlington at 9:08 PM when there's no line in the drivethrough.

We stayed at the Chaparral Inn, which was clean and comfortable, and the hosts were very nice, but the top half of the shower curtain was an extremely porous mesh, which combined with the explosive downpour of the shower and me being much taller than 4 feet resulted in a lot of water splattered on the bathroom floor.

The motel's outdoor pool was closed, as it was empty save for a mound of dirt in one end with a bush growing in it.

The next day we stopped at the Conoco to top off our gas tank.  Half of the gas pumps were shut off, with bags over the pumps.  This wasn't obvious from a distance, so every customer circled then entire bank of gas pumps looking for a functioning pump.

The adjacent Denny's was shut down, with the signs covered with tarps, and inside the gas station was a lot of space which was underutilized by three shelves and a shirt rack.

I should also mention that before we got to Burlington, we passed through Limon where we passively looked for a place to sleep along our route.  One place we stopped to look at was the Midwest Country Inn, which had a big sign out front mentioning a free continental breakfast.  Over the main entrance was a canopy emblazoned with, “An Elegant County Inn.”  I stepped into its lobby only to find a dark, unmanned reception desk.  It looked like a vacant building, except for the gas fire burning in the fireplace, a couch and chairs lining the walls, a rack full of brochures, and the sound of TV coming from down a dark hallway.  There were computer-printed signs posted stating, “If you don't live here, don't be here.  Trespassers will be prosecuted.” Presumably the inn had become an apartment building.

Maybe it was just a weird corner of Colorado.