Sitting in Atlanta International Airport. Smells of fast food and floor cleaner flood my nostrils and a kid clips my elbow as he works on some resistance running skills against the leash his mother has committed him to. On the upside, gobs of military men and women are traveling too, most going home for the holidays. Felt really great to see so many getting the chance and made me think about all the others who aren’t able to connect this year.
We left Moab after two chilly days and made the final 7-hour push to Denver where Peace Corps alumni Tara and Lizzie were waiting with booze and food. The Moab Red Stone Inn had great winter rates and was conveniently located next to the Moab Micro-Brewery. Turns out, superstar Tara is running the Canyonlands half-marathon next year. Congrats and would love to make it out to see her run again.
Having never been to Colorado, I was constantly aware of the not-so-bland landscape. Rocky wasn’t “jaded” per-se but he was definitely amused with my frequent outbursts of wonder at the constant glory of nature. The drive included many passes and several ups and downs. It is the Rockies after-all. Gorgeous as it was, the stress factor was a little high. As I mentioned before, we’re driving a vintage Subaru. Until we hit the passes, she was great. We sang her praises all along the way and then knocked very loudly on any nearby wood. After Vail pass, where we’d been gunning it all the way and never really getting past 50 mph, we hit another incline and the little red bandit simply quit. Now, I’ve never owned a car. It’s a special point of pride having reached a quarter of a century…though that’s mostly due to the generosity of my parents and others. This was a great crash course in fluids, smells, noises, and feel. Perhaps this can be likened to puppy sitting before actually making the leap to that new spunky Labrador in a studio apartment.
After the DOT guy came and hollered a few things at us about fluid on the side of an 8-lane highway, he bumper-car-ed us off to a (thankfully) nearby service vehicle lot. Rocky quickly drew the conclusion he was tipsy, which I quickly seconded after he spit his chew out and left a sizeable amount in his teeth... the DOT guy, not Rocky. An angel of a tow-truck driver (I know, oxymoron) showed up out of thin air and towed us back down to Silverthorn, a good 2,000 feet lower. I went into a bookstore for a potty break and come out to Rocky zipping around the parking lot in the red bandit herself! Apparently, she just wasn’t acclimatizing well. Oh my, did I have a field day in my head with that one.
Our diesel-fueled angel then towed us back over the pass and down to the next town, in hopes it would be low enough to keep the car moving. We limped her the rest of the way to Lizzie’s, just outside of Denver and it was time for Margaritas! A great night out with Tara, Lizzie and Lizzie’s beaux were exactly what we needed. The next few days were spent recovering from that first night and just relaxing. It was my first time in both a Patagonia AND Prana store. Had to check my wallet at the door, no wonder those outdoorsy folk always look so put together! The best part was seeing my girls in the US, though I think it will always be a shocker to see volunteers I served with, outside of Benin.
Rocky dropped me off at the airport in Denver and we said our goodbyes for the next 4 months. Great road trip, great friends, and even better, great things to look forward to in the not-so-distant future.