Roads, Trails, and Rocky Mountain Oysters
On the road again. Our departure from the Great White North entailed a long day to southern Wyoming. And it was followed by a reasonably short day to Estes Park, Colorado. But short by our standards has become another less than five hours.
It rained as we left Canada. The kids and Alaina joked that the country was “crying for us.” There were a couple times on the road in Canada that I wanted to pull over and take pictures of the farm houses against the flat farm lands with the clouds hovering just barely above the horizon. But asking children to stop for a picture is hard enough when they are included. It’s even more unimaginable when they’re asleep and desperate to get back to their water slide. The sparse fields of Saskatchewan went with photography.
We passed a couple of unique cemeteries on the way out of Regina to the United States. The speed limits aren’t quite as high in Canada and aside from good gas mileage one also gets a good look at things alongside the road. The first one was a family cemetery that had a fenced off rock in the middle (move not your father’s boundaries). The sincerely unique one had an image of the Christ on the cross with two women in prayer and prostration. Both Christ and the images faced East. The dead waiting upon the rising sun to remind them of the looming resurrection of the dead. The image reminding them of the first born of the resurrection. It was fitting to see the light rain trickle down the windows and images as we passed on our way out.
Judah ever the pondering child asked why the United States was crying for us as we entered. The answer was rather irrelevant, but the rain lasted throughout the day. We had a nice lunch at a brewpub in Montana (Meadowlark Brewing). And we drove for a mind numbing forty minutes on a dirt “highway” in the rain throughout the rest of Montana. I have never in my life been more worn out by a drive and this includes the overnight driving I did through Oklahoma and Kansas at the start of this trip. Alaina and I couldn’t stop laughing at some point. The mud did clean our car of bugs though.
Estes would bring a new life and tone to our trip. The weather was fair with wind and afternoon showers. And we hiked. Over and over we hiked. Twice in Estes. Once in Colorado Springs. Twice more in New Mexico. What had been a spurious thing in South Dakota became a daily norm that the kids thrived towards and grew to enjoy even before and after the hiking itself.
Colorado also brought good beer, long time friends, and new experiences (not of the weed variety). We visited an aquarium, saw the kids’ first baseball game, and did all kinds of walking on and by highways. The food was good too-ask me about the Rocky Mountain Oysters. The beer really was good.
The days in Colorado away from the road made the drive to Santa Fe feel long. We arrived in time for dinner. The place was charging for a standup comedy night so all regular patrons were asked to sit on the patio. Not a problem. Except they weren’t playing music on the patio. And the crowd of probably fifty patrons talked with the hushed voice of a funeral instead of a brewery. And we walked in with our five kids who had enough to the van.
Santa Fe was mostly hiking-including our day out to Amarillo. Words fail me to describe Amarillo. But our hotel stay there was one of the nicest of our entire trip.
Our time in Oklahoma was meant to be a final relaxation before returning home and to responsibilities. It was certainly that. Our HomeAway while incredibly nice inside was in a rough part of town. Our desire to just stay in was amplified by the massive amount of road traffic throughout the city. A short trip to a skeleton museum and long morning at the State Fair were capped and surrounded by movie nights and early bedtimes. The kids all began talking about being homesick. And on the day of our departure woke up chanting “Austin, Austin, Austin.”
We are grateful for the time on the road. Increasingly grateful for our city. And we are ready to be home.