Recharged with a solid six-hour repose at the lovely Chateau at Vail, we felt ready to take on the world. Or at least Wyoming. No tantalizing food immediately presented itself near the hotel, so we elected to roll onward in hopes of later securing tasty vittles. Soon, our stomachs were grumbling and ready to self-ingest, forcing a food pit stop at a local Wal-Mart that housed a micro-sized McDonald's within. While Brian "Stick Boy" Vance was busy fielding odd questions from a jovial, blue-haired 70s-ish woman, Kiwi ordered mass quantities of cholesterol-rich consumables. Presumably she was concerned about Brian's slender, reed-like figure, but we were already working on a caloric, super-sized solution.
As West Coast elitists, we couldn't help but notice that the locals in this town were different from the people we live among in Los Angeles. One gent waiting for his Big Mac looked surprisingly proud to be sporting his finest attire consisting of a blank white T-shirt with its sleeves cut off, tight black jeans with a gaggle of keys clipped to one of the belt loops, and a well-worn "#3 Earnhardt" ball cap. This ensemble must be the accepted local norm, as we saw more than one guy with such a classily-coordinated clothes combo. But then again, we were starting to look rather haggard from our marathon trek, so who were we to talk to?
Heading east on Interstate 70, we had the first of four different sightings of camouflaged prototype vehicles undergoing validation testing when a disguised pickup truck raced westbound. Heavily cloaked, the truck appeared to be the tougher-looking 2004 Ford F-150. The second sighting occurred as we began our ascent of the twisty paved road that leads to the summit of Mt. Evans--the highest road in the United States. Lightly camouflaged, the 2004 Chevrolet Colorado pickup appeared to be undergoing high-altitude powertrain testing on the steep roads that lead to Mt. Evans' 14,264-foot summit. Unfortunately, we were ill prepared for these fleeting encounters and weren't able to document either of the test mules with our fancy digital camera gear. Hoping another sighting would occur, Kiwi armed himself with a Canon GL1 DV camcorder in one hand and his Canon 1D digital camera in the other, while young Stick Boy navigated the big H2 up the narrow, slithering roadway that led to the mountaintop.
When we arrived at the summit parking lot, we were disappointed to find only ordinary people movers. A short, wheezing hike to the actual summit was completed to record photo and video for "been there, done that" bragging rights. On the way down the rock-strewn path, we were delighted to spy two identical funky-looking prototypes pulling into the lot. Closer inspection revealed what appeared to be a revised Mitsubishi Galant, but our probing investigation was squelched as the engineers quickly installed car covers.
On the way back to our H2 we were treated to yet another prototype sighting as a heavily-cloaked GM product parked alongside a distant dirt mound. Kiwi and Stick Boy sprung into action, documenting what appeared to be a four-door mid-sizer sporting GM's new "global" Epsilon chassis. Kiwi swore the vehicle appeared to be the new 2004 Malibu, but Brian scoffed by saying, "Dude, clearly that's the new  Grand Am."
Regardless, the GM engineers driving the car were not happy with our shutterbug antics and threatened us by saying, "Hey, you can't take pictures of this car." Cocky Stick Boy fired back with, "Last time I checked, this was a public road...so I can shoot what I want." One obnoxious GM engineer got directly in our faces and countered our every move to block our photo efforts as two other engineers slipped a cover over the funky prototype.