14 Sep Roadtrippin’: The Beginning of an Adventure
We’re starting our road trip in Colorado. We aren’t quite sure where it will go. As my buddy and I cruise highway 14 west out of Fort Collins and snowy Long’s Peak disappears in the rearview he says, “Are you going to drive and write at the same time? That looks so dangerous.”
“Fair enough.” We swap spots in Poudre canyon where I’m supposed to pay to pee. I see the bathroom in the back next to the fryer. The attendant with drawn in eyebrows asks, “Going camping?” I sneak out the side door (propped open with a trash can.) I’m not going to be bullied and pay to piss.
Further out we see a sign: Avalanche conditions may exist. Longdraw road is closed. Joe Wright reservoir is frozen. Snow-packed conifers outline a barrier to the alabaster peaks. “Thanks for driving. It’s hard to write and …”
“Drive at the same time? Yeah, I can imagine.” When I look up there’s an eagle above the sun roof. We’d decided to take the long way, the scenic by-roads, to get an authentic sense of the land. Pretty soon we take 191 North into Utah.
It’s summer by the green river. A giant pink dinosaur sign marks our arrival at Vernal where we paused for gas at the Kum & Go. Kids were photographing a wooly mammoth. “It’s hard to imagine Plieosaurs swimming here,” I tell Eddie.
We make it to Pinedale, Wyoming, when the asphalt skins our back right tire at 110 mph. It’s a slow fifty miles out of town. We grab a motel room because it’s late and we don’t want to ride a doughnut through national parks at night. A grey woman with a weather-beaten face serves as our interrogator. My friend, Eddie, sweet talks the roach motel room for a half-rate night. One serious rule: no dogs. “No problem,” he waves her off like a fly.
I smuggle Shakespeare, my 25 pound dog, in swaddled arms, thankful he never barks. Once it’s all said and done getting a beer is an easy sell, considering the state of the vehicle. There’s a strong moon out in Wyoming. Bottoms Up bar has a sign made of stacked kegs. It’s calling us to turn our glasses upside down. We sip draft pints while our waitress drinks gin and carouses with patrons. When she comes by the table we ask her about a place to get a new tire. “You from a-round here?” She slurs.
“No.” So, naturally Ginny says our brews are on the house, and whether she’s loaded or serious, we don’t ask and drink up.
Waking up in Wyoming with a flat means we have to find an open tire store on Memorial Day. We quickly realize Ginny was full of shit and nowhere’s open. Plus we’re deathly hung-over. We ride the donut 80 miles to Jackson Hole where we buy a newbie and drive into our first (intentional) destination.
Grand Teton National Park has a series of jagged icecaps above verdant glacial valleys. Sharp peaks press against one another. They know secret stories of landslides, avalanches, and the full faced sun or moon.
Almost immediately the Tetons give way to different terrain. No emerald and sapphire of fall. No white reflection of winter. Yellowstone is filled with an orange and pale blue geothermic mist and bison rolling off tufts of their thick coats in dust. Newborn calves watch. These matchstick trees do not compare to the wooded Teton glory. All we can think of is: where to next?
This blog is part of a Roadtrippin’ series. To see the next entry in this series click here.