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5 June 2009 ~ in my own wonderful part of this world
Have I told you how happy I am to be home? I don’t know if I have enough words to give adequate voice to this sheer joy. But if you know me you know I am going to try.
We left Van Nuys, California on Sunday morning. Jim had finished his last bank and said his goodbyes on Saturday as he packed the last of his tools just before we left. The “marine layer” hadn’t burned off yet and the thick, gray air was full of moisture. I guess I never realized how far that blanket of ocean weather could reach until we finally broke out of it high above the Los Angeles basin. We drove most of the rest of that day in sunshine. It was interesting to see how the landscape had changed since early February. We remembered traveling long stretches in rain and watching the desert draw life from the moisture while we listened to The Circus Fire . On this trip through we were listening to another audio book and noticing the things we’d missed on the first trip. We found the spiky rock formations that gave Needles, California that name and we could see the full breadth of the Colorado River that creates the border between Arizona and California.
My driver was getting weary after 300 miles so we pulled in to Kingman, Arizona for the night. Old Town Kingman straddles Route 66 and the Visitor’s Center has an interesting collection of memorabilia from generations of road weary travelers. Like most desert places the 90 some degrees dropped precipitously when the sun went down so we donned jackets for laps around the campground and down the street for ice cream. We were back on the road early on Monday morning.
We ran into rain on the outskirts of Flagstaff and we had more time to kill so we took a lap through this beautiful mountain town. We both have great memories of this pretty place as a couple of crazy kids on their first big adventure together. We laughed about finding the courthouse and then finding a kind Pastor who married us in his church that day almost 36 years ago. I wonder if the church secretary and the guy across the street still remember standing up for a couple of Colorado kids who trembled their way through solemn vows. I wonder if they still tell the story.
By Monday afternoon we crossed into Colorado at Four Corners. Here at the only spot in the US where four state borders meet many people have taken that photo op with one hand planted on Colorado soil, one in New Mexico, a foot in Arizona and another foot in Utah. We sailed by the monument rejoicing to be back in Colorado again. I caught a good shot of Shiprock across the border in New Mexico and several pictures of the Ute Mountain Reservation land before we landed in Cortez, Colorado for the night. Cortez is a scenic little town near the ruins at Mesa Verde and the green mesas and mountains outside our window took my breath away. We took a walk at dusk and spotted a deer in the willows. I was excited to take pictures of Sleeping Ute Mountain so I could tell the grandsons that he was sleeping there when their Mommies were little and he’s still sleeping there today. We woke to sweet Colorado sunshine streaming in the windows and I tried to remember the last time I saw the sun that early on a California day. I was overjoyed to be home!
Tuesday in southwestern Colorado was green. Incredible landscapes in so many shades of green that it almost hurt the eyes. The hay fields in the Mancos Valley and the forests around Durango were lit with brilliant sunshine against bright blue skies. Aspen and willow were budding out in new pale green growth that made a pretty contrast to the dense, dark green pines. By the time we hit Pagosa Springs we could see lightning and black clouds and we pulled the slow climb up Wolf Creek Pass in a gentle rain.
After so many miles pointed mostly east we made a sharp turn north at Monte Vista and watched the San Luis Valley come into view through rain splattered glass. The Sangre de Cristos (the name is Spanish for “Blood of Christ”) were shrouded in clouds and when they lifted the slightest bit you could see that the mountains were wearing new snow. My Mom’s people were living in this part of this state long before it became Colorado and she was born here in this place of sage and willows and tall cottonwood trees. She has wonderful memories of growing up with her five brothers on their father’s sheep ranch. And on this day one of the poorest counties in our state was rich with rain and green fields of potatoes, wheat and hops destined for the Coors Brewing Company.
We laughed through remembered stories of Salida and Buena Vista and all the friends that made memories with us in those pretty places. I snapped pictures of the Colorado State Reformatory to add to my files on a great uncle who served time there in 1911 when he was a seventeen year old horse thief. I snapped more pictures of the old stage road and wondered if any of the old buildings in Granite were standing when the stage rocked its way through that tiny town.
The Collegiate Peaks were well hidden behind another thick bank of clouds but the cover broke up just in time to see the panorama of two of the highest peaks in Colorado. Mt. Elbert and Mt. Massive both stand over 14,400 feet above sea level and tower over the highest incorporated city in North America. Jim had his heart set on fishing in Leadville for the next few days so we settled into this familiar, funky little city in the sky for a couple days. We lived here while Jim was still working in Vail and we have nothing but wonderful memories of two months of autumn in this little town two miles closer to Heaven. We walked and talked and remembered. Jim had a great time catching Brookies and I couldn’t get enough of the exquisite scenery and the wonderful Victorian architecture in town.
We made the last hundred miles yesterday and came home to a happy reunion with loved ones. We hit the ground running and between visits and unpacking and laundry I can see a long list of things that need our attention right away. We’ll both be back to work in our real world this weekend and even though the list is long I can’t wait to get started. Have I told you how happy I am to be home?