09 January 2012

Utah Day, Colorado Night

I-70 Colorado

Towns such as Vail, the famous ski resort town for the wealthy, probably as well-known as nearby Aspen, are lit for the holidays, aspens and some kinds of pine trees bound in multi-color or all white electric glow.

Smoke issues from chimneys as my mother cautiously drives the interstate, often as much as ten miles below posted speed limits, the shoulders covered with small amounts of freshly fallen snow as we approach Brekenridge, where National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation was filmed, as if the hill Clark W. Griswalk, AKA Sparky, sledded down like greased lightning could exist in the suburbs of Chicago.

Half hour ago my feet were freezing as I foolishly wore sandals in the snow we've finally encountered and traveled via US-highway 50 to avoid. Snow was reported along Interstate 80 by my cousin, telling us it melts by day, but high winds may cause drifts.

Less than two hours from Longmont, via the outskirts of Denver, Mother Moon casts her glow through the tops of forty-foot pines though just two hours ago her glow could scarcely be seen over the crests of some of the tallest mountains in the country.

We pass through more towns, trees still lit, icicle-style lights still dangling from awnings, as if Christmas is eternal here in this skiers' paradise.

Earlier in the day we dallied through Eastern Utah, having taken our first interstate in days. I-70 winds through canyons carved by winds and water erosion and highway engineers. Other times we passed near sheer drop-offs. Occasionally the landscape is fenced in, cattle grazing, we wonder if we'll see more headless animals, having already encountered a cow and deer that have gone beyond lobotomy. That's my new phrase for beheadings, jihadists beware. No, not “jingoists”, Mr. Spellcheck.

Here were are in snowy Colorado again, about to head into one of many tunnels carved through mountain slopes when it's not easily possible to build the road along the bends the rivers take between mountain passes. We just have to be cautious of tunnel cannibals. This tunnel has a stoplight. We're at 11,058 feet or so and the radio turns to static.

Mom eats some peanuts as this is one of the more easily-driven portions of the road, the runnel possibly over a mile long as Patty breathes heavily with anxiety in the back seat. The tunnel continues on, further than a mile perhaps. Night skies again as we pass a junction for US-6 West and the roadways dives into the valley at 5- and 6-percent grades, darkness enveloping any visibility beyond. The tail lights of the cars ahead act as guides, pied-pipers leading us with only 92.3 coming in on the radio as more snow is announced and “Closing Time” opens.

I begin to feel emotional as I realize how effortlessly I am writing this, hoping to get back into the practice of writing frequently and keeping up with my blogging.

Sunrise in Fillmore, Utah hadn't happened until after 7 am, when I'd hoped we'd be on the road by. Alas, we had another late start as my father and I enjoyed our free breakfast and I worked on adding a few revisions to my syllabus that are now required by the college. After a sleepless night of crying and whining dog snuck carefully into the motel room we headed onto the road after filling up the family truckster at $3.05 a gallon.

Almost immediately we stopped at an antique store in Scipio as we headed for the merger of US-50 East and I-70. My father bought a 16-inch dutch oven for $35.00 cash, after the “New York” discount of $3.00. With little room in the jeep we placed the oven atop on of the bins of Lego my aunt had acquired.

Onward we traversed through all shades of brown, red, and gray, some layers of rock, black.

Presently the moon's light peeks over a ridge beautifully lighting a plane's contrail.

At one of the first rest areas on the highway witnessed rounded rock formations speckled with swiss cheese holes, my mother referring to them as Martian rocks, for once the caves were not declared bear caves, though one other time the “caves”, mostly scarcely shadowed spaces below short overhangs. My mother has more of an imagination than I.

As my parents used the flushless facilities I ran and leapt down the rock formations that reminded of Sedona, Arizona sans redrock coloration, scrub grew here and there. Always, I think of the original Predator movie when I leap, bending my knees to send the shock of impact harmlessly up my body or whatever it is that happens when I do that. There I took the following pictures.

My mother asks me which path we're taking to Longmont, if it's I-25. Not doing a good job of taking the tone of annoyance out of my voice as I think about how the TomTom GPS will tell her when to turn off and which way to go, I tell her, “No, we're taking US-6 around this side of the city.” Then she changes lanes on a curve as my father tried to water the dog (merely meaning “give the dog water”) and it sounds like he spills it as he curses, my father often being quick to swear in such instances. Yes, I think that's where I get it from, the Old Man, who weaves a tapestry of obscenities which still hovers over Huntington today.

Minutes later we drive over Clear Creek and pass some brightly lit excavation, some sort of heavily-glassed building seemingly built into the mountainside. Dry snow crystals sparkle beyond the shoulders and orange warning lights flash over diamond signs depicting hugely antlered elk, Denver not far off as the freeway opens into three lanes.

At the Sedona-like rest stop I return to the parking area to pee and see about a dozen blankets of “Indian” pottery and jewelry neatly laid out beneath the signs stating “No Vending or Soliciting”. What would people solicit out there?

On I-70, writing this, I find I'm sweating too much and deign to emerge from the cocoon of sweater and jacket, struggling to not elbow my mother, as if I'm molting, Houdini-like. A sign warns truckers to, “not be fooled” about the 4-percent downgrade over the next mile. A runaway truck ramp sign appears followed by one more, with flashing warning lights. My mother scrapes the rumble strip in the shoulder, perhaps preparing to take the ramp. Denver's lights sparkle beyond the mountains in eternal Christmas.

PS: Speaking of eternal Christmas, we just passed a bicyclist safely decked in reflectors, to which I explained, “It's Tron!”