Apr. 26: Blue Starlite Mini Urban Drive In, Minturn CO.

It’s Day 116 of my virtual Drive-In-a-Day Odyssey. It took a little almost three hours to drive down from Fort Collins through the Denver area, across the continental divide in the Eisenhower Tunnel, then on to the Blue Starlite Mini Urban Drive In in Minturn CO.

Minturn, in the Vail Valley, is a pretty small town, but its Little Beach Park got lit up last summer for the latest outpost of the Austin TX-area Blue Starlite franchise. A long, belated article in The Denver Post described owner Josh Frank’s search for a place in Colorado to show movies and Minturn’s economic development director’s response. “This really fits Minturn’s brand,” said Michelle Metteer, “I mean, our mission statement includes the words ‘funky’ and ‘eclectic’ and we want to stay that way. This just worked perfectly.”

They call this the highest drive-in in America, but as I noted a few days ago, the Comanche in Buena Vista is surprisingly about 100 feet higher. Still, both of these places are elevated enough to remind flatland visitors to drink plenty of water to help fight altitude sickness.

The Colorado Blue Starlite is scheduled to open for its 2017 season on June 22. It should be a lot of fun then, but not now, in April.

Miles Today / Total:  165 / 12672 (rounded to the nearest mile)

Movie Showing / Total Active Nights: dark / 53

Nearby Restaurant: The Sticky Fingers Cafe and Bakery is a lovely little place for breakfast and lunch. I think they named the place after folks who eat the cinnamon hot bun without utensils.

Where I Virtually Stayed: It’s sort of an apartment hotel, but the Hotel Minturn fits the bill of being convenient and nice enough to visit. There’s a kitchenette and coffee in every room, and if you didn’t bring any food to cook, it’s not that hard to find breakfast nearby.

Only in Minturn: About halfway between Minturn and Leadville are the ruins of Camp Hale, the training facility for the 10th Mountain Division in World War II. The camp, which housed 15,000 soldiers at its peak, included mess halls, infirmaries, a ski shop, administrative offices, a movie theater, and stables for livestock. From 1959 to 1965, Tibetan guerrillas were secretly trained at Camp Hale by the CIA. In 1965, Camp Hale was dismantled and the land was deeded to the U.S. Forest Service. Since 1974, the area has become a youth development training center.

Next stop: Echo Drive-In, Roosevelt UT.

Apr. 25: Holiday Twin Drive In Theatre, Fort Collins CO

It’s Day 115 of my virtual Drive-In-a-Day Odyssey. It took a little over an hour to drive from Commerce City CO to the Holiday Twin Drive In Theatre in Fort Collins.

Cinema Treasures says that the Holiday Twin started life in 1968 as the single-screen Starlight, then added a second screen in 1976.

According to a wonderful, long article in the Fort Collins Coloradoan, current owner Wes Webb acquired the drive-in in 1979 by trading his light plane for it. By 1997, he and his wife Stephanie owned six drive-ins, five in Utah and the Holiday Twin. Stephanie said he bought them as investments, “big pieces of ground that make money,” but promised his wife that he would hold on to one of them, which turned out to be the Holiday Twin.

In my previous visits, I’ve been impressed by what a class act the Holiday Twin is. Decent facilities, a good concession stand, and a well-maintained lot. I heard they added a mini-golf course last year, but I haven’t had time to check it out.

The drive-in is still over a week away from its opening date of May 5 this year, so I was left without a movie to watch.

Miles Today / Total:  64 / 12507 (rounded to the nearest mile)

Movie Showing / Total Active Nights: dark / 53

Nearby Restaurant: It’s part of a chain, but my favorite place to eat in Fort Collins is the HuHot Mongolian Grill downtown. That location is part of an old hotel, and the brick walls and high ceilings (and a bar area) give it a different atmosphere than the antiseptic new HuHots that keep getting built. Pile as much meat and veggies in a bowl, add whatever sauces look good, then watch their chefs cook it into a yummy treat.

Where I Virtually Stayed: There are plenty of places to stay in Fort Collins, but none of them are especially close to the Holiday Twin. The closest is the Hilton Fort Collins, where I took advantage of my Hilton gold level to get some extra pampering. If you can make it to the executive lounge, it’s definitely worth it.

Only in Fort Collins: According to Roadside America, a 12-foot tall Campbell’s Soup can with Andy Warhol’s signature sits in front of old Fort Collins High School. Tomato, of course.

Next stop: Blue Starlite Mini Urban Drive In, Minturn CO.

Apr. 24: 88 Drive In Theatre, Commerce City CO

It’s Day 114 of my virtual Drive-In-a-Day Odyssey. It took just 10 minutes to drive up I-76 from the Denver Mart Drive In to the 88 Drive-In in neighboring Commerce City CO.

According to a story in The Denver Post, the 88 was built in 1972 but was showing adult films when it was purchased in 1976 by Bill and Margaret Holshue. As of that 2010 article, their daughter Susan Kochevar was running the place, and teenage grand-daughter Kyleen Kochevar was working the ticket booth.

I was so glad that the 88 is open seven nights a week even in late April, giving me a chance to watch a Monday night drive-in movie for the first time in six weeks. It was even a triple feature, but I only stayed for the first film, Saban’s Power Rangers.

Miles Today / Total:  7 / 12443 (rounded to the nearest mile)

Movie Showing / Total Active Nights: Power Rangers / 53

Nearby Restaurant: The closest restaurant to the 88 is also one of the best in Commerce City. La Casa Del Rey is authentic, family-owned Mexican restaurant that’s not afraid to make its dishes as hot as you can handle. Try the Mexican hamburger, which isn’t easy to find anywhere else.

Where I Virtually Stayed: I live in Denver, so I went home for one more night. The closest hotel to the 88 is just across the interstate in Henderson, another Super 8. According to the latest reviews, it’s been recently remodeled and provides a decent Super 8 experience. But for me, it’s nothing like sleeping at home for the last time this year.

Only in Commerce City: There are a lot of drive-ins that double as flea markets during the day, but I haven’t encountered any others that are practically adjacent to somebody else’s. The Mile High Flea Market, just across the railroad tracks and technically in Henderson, is the Denver area’s biggest continuous garage sale, Its 80 acres include up to 3000 sellers, a farmers’ market, kids’ amusement park rides, and beer.

Next stop: Holiday Twin Drive In Theatre, Fort Collins CO.