Friday, June 03, 2011
Fifty miles into Wyoming the rain stopped and the fog cleared.
It wouldn't last though. A Hundred miles later we were again in a steady mist. At least it gave us something to look at besides the construction sites (“Pay Attention or Pay the Price!” the friendly signs urged us.) Okay, I'm being unfair. Eastern Wyoming also offered temptations like “Wildlife Management Areas.” Instead of, say, parks, I guess. I imagined these turn-offs lined with men in Wranglers, rifles on their shoulders.
But my favorite were the signs that read “Roadside Table ½ mile.” Pretty much puts the Wy in Wyoming. These were in demand? Travelers floundering about for miles and miles hoping there was somewhere to site down properly and gnaw on the deer leg they'd dragged from the management area perhaps.
Emily had apparently not gotten the memo on how cool the van is or on the stellar attractions of our least populous state. She was in her third steady hour of meowing. After six nights of chilling in houses with friends, we'd had to broom her out from under Sheila's guest room bed to rejoin us on our journey.
The birds scattered off the highway in front of us like kids in a rare moment of disturbance playing on a dead end street. We pulled into Torrington, where the motels felt the need to inform us they had “clean rooms.” Torrington sported a population of 5,776 and a mercifully lower altitude than Colorado had shown us yet: 4,104 feet. Still not so great for the sinuses or the wheezy preggo in need of iron supplements, but something. I was beginning to think my baby would not recognize its mama's voice when it came out – I hadn't heard my real voice unobstructed by cold and cough for weeks now.
Colorado had been cold and rainy, too – an unusual state of affairs by everyone's estimation – but other than the first night when our campsite in Fort Garland was so bad I cried for the first 20 minutes we were there. (“It's okay, Mommy. Look over there. There's a spot of grass!”), we had been warmed by three different friends' hospitality in Denver and then Fort Collins. For a week we got to be part of other people's routines and homes.
Butterfly Pavilion, Westminster, CO
with his buddy Joel at Horsetooth Reservoir, Fort Collin, CO
Creating with Heather in Denver
"Farm Day Friday" in Fort Collins
Our one friend's three-year-old unwilling to buy that my name is Kitty, had renamed me Cupcake, a more plausible monicker by her standards. I figure Kitty and Cupcake likely both work at the same strip joint. There is in fact a dubious looking joint in downtown Denver called Kitty's that we passed on our way to Tattered Cover Books. There is always a Kitty's. It is always dubious looking.
I also saw a midwife in Fort Collins, who checked baby and me and said basically that we are fine. She recommended more iron. More food, more often. More sleep. And more exercise. Maybe pole dancing. I could pick up one of Cupcake's shifts.
Entering realms of normalcy. Isaac gets to hang with Casey and Sam.
We saw Red Rocks Amphitheatre and Dinosaur Ridge. We visited a butterfly pavilion and checked out Horsetooth Reservoir.
We arrived in Hill City, South Dakota to cold and wind and rain for Memorial Day weekend. A flooded creek. A pool we wouldn't get to use. Water, water everywhere and nothing to swim in. Mike and I attempted to plot our next stops, but the nation seemed covered in bright green splotches – flood warnings – when the tornadoes weren't crowding in. It was going to be a trick to cross beyond Iowa for sure.
Dinosaur Ridge - Isaac with his hand in a fossilized Iguanodon track
More kids! Isaac was happy. This miniature camping crew survived cold, wind and rain.
And so we linger in the west and its fossil past, read about possible stops that included saber-toothed deer (wildlife manage that one, Suckers!), proto rhinos, and the long-extinct North American camel. Not many of us likely think that much about proto rhinos in our daily life, which, I suppose is just one more way our little five-week adventure is unique. If you grew up around the places I did, you probably don't think that much about tornadoes either. But here we are, in the elements again. And so, grassland fan or not, we are tied to the spaces between the roadside tables. We are counting on some kindness from the skies, the rivers.
Lower elevation, the lack of flood warnings and tornado watches...could I be looking forward to Nebraska???