I was on a role for a bit there and then vacation set in. Or something changed. Anyway, I walked and hung out at the Betty Ford Alpine Garden I think I could visit it every day and be pretty happy. I was surrounded by such incredible beauty all through Colorado but here it was like beauty wrapped in more beauty. They have art on display as well as the gardens. Last year it was a memorial of sorts to the Majestic Lodgepole Pine. The Singing Trees 2010 They were turned into art as well as artistic benches. This year I got to see Seibert Circle, a striking granite living room, for lack of a better term that was relocated from the top of Bridge Street.
I took a 7.2 mile walk through town and then back on the Gore Valley Trail. It started raining right about at Streamside (where we stayed last year) but I was sun-screened just in case. And I brought a bag with me so I could pick up trash. I figured I can’t complain that people litter if I don’t do anything about it. I picked up SOOOO many cigarette butts.
I had a late lunch on the patio at Los Amigos. If I looked above eye level I missed the gondola construction and just saw the mountain rising up before me. Awesome margaritas and fajitas! I picked up a yummy fresh basil, tomato and black olive pizza at Chicago Pizza and got to play with a favorite Vail dog. He’s big and white and has light eyes but I can’t remember his name or breed. Can anyone help me out? I know it’s a good day when I’m covered in dog hair! My last day I walked around town a bit more to soak in a little more Colorado. Stopped by a jewelry store (sorry I can’t remember the name, it’s right by the fountain in Seibert Circle maybe it’s Hughes Jewelry? Again, anyone help out?) to see another favorite Vail dog. This year, luckily, I wasn’t wearing a tank top so I didn’t end up with a “hairy chest” like last year. A great big lover of a Black Lab. Then I picked up a sterling silver chain for my Pacific Low Tide pendant at Artful Sol. Had a fantastic lunch seated by the window at Up the Creek (it was raining so I opted not to sit on the beautiful patio). This place has been our favorite for years, decades I think. After which I met and loved on a very sweet Yellow Lab (with a black nose not like my Moses who had a pink nose). Picked up a Colorado shirt to go with my Arches shirt and a few post cards (as promised for a few little girls.)
Then it was back to the condo to pack. You know you packed too much when you haven’t worn or even touched more than half the stuff you’re putting back in the bag. Idiot! One would think I would know better by now, but no. So I packed it all back up, in a slightly different configuration. I decided not to drive down to Denver, the Springs or Ridgeway to visit old friends. It was time to get back to Portland and make a go of NinaZaneta (both knits and jewelry).
I headed to Flaming Gorge, wow just wow I mean really. Such striking colors and views. On the way it was, unfortunately, all about dead deer on my side of the road. Great big ones all the way down to little bitties with spots on their tooshies. They were also in varying, lets just say, stages. Okay, I’m pretty sure I saw a stomach or some other large organ. I suppose it could have been a large muscle striped of skin. Sorry, it’s in my head and I need to get it out! And of course the Turkey Vultures. I’ve seen a few here but nothing like this. The first bunch was on the road in the opposite lane of traffic. There were at least 5. They were HUGE. Several were milling about, I didn’t try to see what they were milling around. But one was walking around the outside of the group, like a bouncer or something. That made me laugh a little, which I appreciated after all the deer. The next group was in the trees. I saw them and pulled over to try and snap a picture. Of course they ran away but again there had to have been close to 10. Considering all the dead deer I guess it makes sense. I stopped for the night in Green River, Wyoming. I don’t want to offend anyone from Green River, but when I left town in the morning it felt deserted. Where was everyone? I’m guessing church because the radio was all about jesus.
When I couldn’t find NPR I decided to finally listen to some of the podcasts I’ve got on my phone. I started with the 6 episodes of The Stranger. I’m so delinquent in listening they were all from 2011!
My original plan was to do Green River to Nampa Idaho, basically because I wanted to avoid Boise (the scene of the backing up). But Idaho was hard to drive through so I kept extending it out, bit by bit. When I started out I saw a boat on my shoulder (with one of the trailer tires up on the cement barricade, facing oncoming traffic and, what I have to assume was, it’s truck in the median. I saw a fire off the highway and drove through the smoke that was blowing across the road. So much so that I couldn’t see the other cars on the road. People were pulled over and at least one person was in the field fighting it. I wished that I had the appropriate attire and knowledge to help. I drove on in shock. I drove passed a role over accident. Again people were pulled over helping and I wished I had the knowledge to help. I drove through several “tumbleweed storms”. I assumed I wasn’t supposed to avoid them (like some low tech video game I grew up with) so now I have lots of tumbleweed parts in my grill and around my lights (along with the bug cemetery that is my car I’ll be heading to the detail shop). At one point I had storms North, South and West of me. East (behind me) was clear blue skies. The storms took turns being dull grey, blue and charcoal grey. It looked like the charcoal grey clouds were boiling. The storms continued to change, grow and move as I drove. Until finally I was in one. The rain was blinding, much like the smoke I couldn’t see the other cars on the road. And just as quickly I was out of it. After I got through the Dan Savage podcasts I started searching for NPR again. While listening to the radio that terrible alarm went off. The one that is usually a test, only a test. But this time it wasn’t a test. A Severe Thunderstorm Warning was being issued and advising people to take shelter. Luckily the storm was behind me by this time. Still, it wasn’t a great feeling but it passed with the miles. At some point I gave up on finding a clear NPR station and started PRI’s The Sound of Young America. They were all great but the one that really hit me, no surprise here, was with Susan Orlean on her book about Rin Tin Tin and his trainer. I was in tears and made a note to get the book.
Once I got close to Nampa ID I thought Ontario OR isn’t much further. So I kept driving. Then I was in Oregon. So… I figured… why not keep going because I live in Oregon and I mean it’s not like Oregon is huge and you can’t drive it in a day. Once it got dark it was a little different drive. I could see that the moon was out my window. It reminded me of my flight from DIA to PDX last summer. There was this very lit up thing far in the distance. I wasn’t sure what it was. Turned out to be a “decorate semi”. At least that’s what I called it. It had lights all over! White, Golden and Red So fancy. Albeit distracting. When I was driving in the tumbleweed storm I could see them coming but at night it’s a different story. It’s not in your view until it’s in the beam of your headlight. What is that? Is it a tumbleweed? No, it’s red. And solid. Is it a trash can? Nope! It was a rolled up sleeping bag? I know this because on my way to Colorado I noticed some truck drivers had sleeping bags tucked up behind their cabs. I was able to, (clearing throat) mostly, avoid it. I wasn’t exactly going to swerve in the dark at 70 miles an hour with other cars around me. The next truck I passed was a Walmart truck and it looked like the spot where the sleeping bag would be was empty. Ha Ha! I’m a detective!
So yeah I drove Green River Wyoming to Portland Oregon in one day. My phone tells me it’s 900 miles and about 14 hours. My car clock was still on Mountain Time (it didn’t even occur to me to change it when I passed the time zone sign) so I was really feeling the hour until I got into my condo and realized it was just a bit after 11, not 12. Years ago I started traveling with my pillow when I can (only if I can fit it in my suitcase) since I was driving I took it with me. But I stupidly didn’t bring it in when I was en route, just in Vail. Idiot! But I have to say, there is something about my own pillow on my own bed that is all kinds of great.
Side Notes (read random thoughts I don’t know where else to put).
- I passed several people and plots of land that were watering when it was 90+ degrees out, Come On! A few more hours and you could be watering in the 70s or 80s. That’s my 2 cents.
- I saw so many gorgeous vintage cars. Some driving others trailered. I wish I had taken pictures of them. If I had known it would be such a theme for the trip I would have.
- Each and everytime I passed horses I said hello, had a little conversation with them and smiled with pure joy. The problem with driving on major highways is that they limit the shoulders to only emergency parking. So I couldn’t, in good conscience, pull over and take pictures or talk to the horses like I would on other roads.