Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Vacation, Part 1: Headed Toward Wonderment

This morning, I am green. Filled with jealousy almost to the point of spilling over. I'm jealous, crazily enough, of myself. My past self. Because my self of one week ago, exactly 168 hours ago, was in the car on her way into Colorado. She was in a great mood, and she knew this was coming, one week later. I may be crazy, but at least I'm consistent.

Last Tuesday was the second day of our road trip. On Monday we left early, drove through Iowa and most of Nebraska, and stopped for the night in North Platte, where I'd reserved a room at an old but extremely clean two-story motel.

I'd heard bad things about Nebraska before we left, but it turned out to be not so awful. The landscape reminded me of parts of Minnesota, but with more cows. North Platte is a major railroad town, and more attention has been paid to its architecture than we were expecting. We walked through downtown on our way back to the motel from dinner, and were impressed with the intricately carved stonework on most of the buildings. Even the bases of the lampposts were decorative. Even so, it was very much small town America: my meal of lemon pepper chicken linguine (at a restaurant that claimed to have "the best food in town") was so terrible and ugly that I hardly ate any of it (Eric's chicken-fried steak, on the other hand, was very good); we watched a man in a pickup truck rev his engine loudly and squeal away in challenge to a friend standing by his motorcycle in a parking lot; and there were two poems, one patriotic and the other religious, tacked to the wall in our motel room.

That first night, we took a cold, dark swim in the outdoor pool, slept heavily, and woke up early for another day on the road.

On this trip, Eric and I learned that a full day of driving, when you're braced for it and it's part of something worthwhile, isn't all that hard to do. But the second day of our trip was not a good example of this. On that day, we drove into Colorado, where they have mountains. I don't know if you've ever driven through mountains in a Saturn sedan, but I think it's safe to say that they weren't designed for that kind of driving. During the four days we were in Colorado, we saw one other Saturn. One. And it had our sympathy. Going up, we had trouble maintaining a speed of 45 mph. And going down, especially on curves, the anti-lock brake system kicked in and made us worry that our brakes (which we checked shortly before leaving) were not working they way we needed them to. The drive to Mesa Verde was harrowing, nerve-scraping, and about two hours longer than we had planned. Pretty, though:

After finally arriving at the park in a flood of relief and paying the ranger for our vehicle pass, we discovered that the lodge where we were staying was still 15 miles away. Up a mountain. To the west. At sunset. Eric was driving, and for all 15 miles, I clutched the door handle next to me, breathed studiously, and tried not to look down.


It was all worth it.

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Blogger Clink said...

Colorado is one of my favorite places...Steam Boat Springs to be exact.
I am looking forward to the rest of the story!

6/25/2008 1:04 PM  

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