The forth and final chapter in this tale, brings closure to these two weeks. Weeks that involved testing my strengths, weaknesses and fight or flight reactions to pretty much everything thrown at me. Traveling alone for any significant chunk of time does something to you, two weeks for me broke open the center and gave me the nectar I needed to fuel the travel engine in my chest. These trips ride me mentally for months through busy work schedules and the monotony of everyday life. Images in my head I could go back to by simply closing my eyes and feeling a cool breeze on my skin.
“Nothing I see can be taken from me”-(Anastasio/Marshall)
June 22nd, 2014:
“When I awoke in the yurt, I was chilled from the deadened fire and the cool mountain air. It was 6am and the sun had just began to rise over the ridge, I was right above tree line. I went outside to use the outhouse and I notice an abundance of tracks surrounding the yurt. There were wolf tracks, hoof prints from elk and a few heavier, deeper prints from what to me resembled a bear. I chopped some wood to replenish the kindling in the yurt and made a morning fire. Once the fire was lit I laid down on the couch. I’ve been so mentally and physically exhausted after the passed few days, I drifted off into a nap with the crackling sounds of the fire beside me. I woke in a start about an hour later to the soft pitter patter of rain drops on the roof of the yurt. The storm was starting and I had to get on the road. I packed up my bedding and journals, roll bags and cooler as quickly as I could, signed into the log for the Rocky Ridge Yurt, locked up and high tailed it back to car.
As I was hiking to the car I breathed in deep and exhaled a sigh of relief. I thought about how lucky I am. How many generous people had helped me throughout this trip, helped me bring the trip to life. Even the few who simply sprinkled it with interesting conversation along the way. Here comes another long drive. I gassed up and hit the road giving a solid nod as I passed the Idaho City sheriff’s station. Sheriff Glenn. Swoon. Eight hours later, through some insane 8 lane traffic, I pulled off to my next check in at a small hotel in Provo, Utah. Exhausted and wearing the dirt and sweat of the last two grueling days, I entered with a slew of bags to reorganize, only to be told they had over booked and I was being relocated down the street to a smaller, shittier motel. I was annoyed to say the least. The only good out of this situation was that they’d comp my night there, which gave me a few extra bucks later. The flip side to the good was that the room was disgusting. The hotel reeked like smoke and the room was filthy. Stains and splatters on the walls, a shredded curtain on the window, bathroom not fit for a dog to be bathed in. I called Priceline to try and rectify this situation, I simply wanted a shower and bed I felt wouldn’t give me a disease. No help there. Then my lovely mother heard me on the phone, seeing I was clearly stressed and tried to call herself. About 30 minutes later I got a call telling me to pack up and move again. Three miles away was a beautiful hotel, they put me on the private executive sweet with a special elevator pass and minus looking like a yeti in the lobby, I was in bliss. The room had an incredible view of the mountains, gigantic shower and two large beds to chose from. I felt entirely spoiled, but I was ok with it. These beds allowed me to get my first solid 8 hours of sleep all trip long. After a glorious shower to cleanse myself of the woods, I ordered some room service, a turkey sandwich to be exact and I lulled off to sleep.”
In the morning I was off to Moab. The drive down was hot, dry and gorgeous. After getting a coffee and refilling my cooler with ice, I came across the only time I had to use my knife this whole trip, which was to puncture a hole in the lid of the coffee cup for airflow. This scenario still cracks me up to this day.
“Before hitting up any National Parks, I checked into Moab Under Canvas, into one of the tipis I’d reserved. What a pleasant experience that site is. After loading in my gear, I was back in the car and was a simple 25 minutes down the next road to Canyonlands National Park. Before you even enter the park, the curving roads to the entrance open wide and your surroundings become a painting before your eyes. Like each place I had seen, beautiful in a completely separate way.
Making sure to stamp my National Parks Passport on the way out, I headed 7 miles into town to grab a beer and a bite to eat. Stopping at a station for beer for my cooler, I asked a local what her favorite diner was. She recommended one down the main strip called the Moab Diner. Creative. The food was ok, I had gotten a chicken taco salad. As I sat there eating I looked up across the street and spotting something incredible. It was a huge lizard dressed as Hunter S. Thompson, clinging to a sign that said The Gonzo Inn. I nearly leapt out of my chair to pay the bill. What the hell was this?
Crossing the main drag I wandered over to the hidden inn. The attention to detail on the outside was great, but upon entry, a mug purchase and a conversation with the gentleman working behind the counter, it was a total farce. They had just used Gonzo and Hunter’s ideals as a theme for the front, nothing else had to do with him or the lifestyle in general. The employee was even disappointed after he got hired. I guess we both expected something different.
I had passed a gem and fossil shop on my way into town and as I headed back to my tipi I decided to stop by and check it out. Finding a mecca of amazing fossils and gems to bring home for friends and for my collection, I was in heaven. Petrified wood to pyrite, fish pressed into stone and dinosaur bones! Totally fascinating store.”
Lin Ottinger’s Moab Rock Shop has most certainly become one of my favorite stores over the years, I’ve visited several times since.
“I was eager to get back to the tipi and perhaps try and mingle with some of the families and foreign travelers there, I’d heard several languages as I was leaving to go hiking prior. The couples seemed to stick to themselves. The communal fire was canceled due to an approaching storm. The sky grown dark and thick with clouds, as I wrote on my chair outside of the tipi. The wind began to pick up and every minute it grew darker and darker. The gusts were getting to 30 mph, which is big to begin with, let alone when you’re inside of a canvas tipi held up with one wooden beam. It made for a terrifying sleep, yet one of the best sleeps I’ve ever had. Writing postcard after postcard as the wind whipped my tipi walls, at one point jumping off of my cot to grab the beam and reposition it back to center. Talking to my mother for a bit, explaining how frightening, yet exciting it was to be in the middle of the desert experiencing this and having no one to physically share it with besides a handful of antisocial foreigners. It brought us all closer together by the next morning, without words. I must’ve been slowly rocked asleep and had not checked in with my mother after sending her a video of the tipi shaking violently. I awoke by 6am to the sun coming over the red rocks and to a barrage of missed calls. Checking in and explaining what had happened, I stepped outside. Pulling out my binoculars, I spotted a group in a hot air balloon taking off by the mountains and I continued to watch them as the sun rose. There were small hares hopping around the cacti and darting around rocks.
They have the glamour of shower trailers at this spot, so I showered quickly holding tight to the pull chain for a steady stream. I packed up my bags and headed to the car to load them. Having pre ordered breakfast on arrival, I went to retrieve mine, as I wanted to get right to hiking. To no avail, my breakfast venture was squashed, as mine was forgotten. Of course being refunded, I didn’t mind and grabbed a complementary cup of joe and apple for the road. Thanking my gracious hosts, putting my pin into the map of travelers from around the world that had visited in their first year, I headed to Arches. A mere 7 miles from the tipi, sat the entrance to Arches. Entering a National Park is so exciting. You encounter the staff, which have been nothing but wonderful to me, acquire the map and are set free inside of a natural playground to explore an unknown, protected world of risk and beauty.
I pulled over just before 7am at Park Avenue and called my Pop. As we spoke I saw a huge hawk, possibly even an eagle soaring through the heart shaped towers. It felt as though I was dreaming. Headed towards Delicate Arch, I began a hot and lengthy climb. I had been wearing a long dress and short cowboy boots. Not my smartest choice, but being resilient, I made it just fine. Along the way there are petroglyphs and old cabins that make me day dream of past lives and possible futures. The following haul is a ginormous rock at an incline, really opening up your view of the park, small set trails along the way, but no direct path. Tiny towers of rocks to mark the way, sandy pits to help the ankles off the stone. The only thing I didn’t enjoy about this hike was not bringing water. It was my second time in the desert and my first time there alone, on foot. I wasn’t thinking. Over looking Delicate Arch, a family who was staying at the tipis asked me if I needed a photo taken, they insisted and I agreed.
When I returned to the car I chugged an ice cold water out of the cooler and began to regain human attributes. Now I sit in the blazing sun. This has been unreal.”
June 29th, 2014
“Driving back to Denver I found a channel that played nothing but the Grateful Dead and put in another 6 hours, spotted a double rainbow to complete the loop.
When I woke up this morning it was a cluster fuck of nonsense. It began with the battery of the rental car I had to return being completely dead, when Nate had offered to move the car to the correct side of the street the night prior, he had left the lights on. We went to buy jumper cables at the local grocery store, got her started and emptied and cleaned out. Due to the battery issue, I’d lost my ride from the rental place in Englewood. After dropping the car keys through a mail slot, as they were closed, I proceeded to wait 45 minutes for a cab back to Capitol Hill. When I finally arrived $35 later, I was locked out of Nate’s place. The spare set was not working. My phone was almost dead, I walked to the local coffee shop to use the ATM and the bathroom, this cafe called The Gypsy House [which is no longer open]. I walked to 7-11 for sunscreen and smokes, got to the counter and realized I’d left my wallet in the bathroom at the cafe.
I called the Gypsy House and they had my wallet. Beyond relieved I rushed back to the cafe, back to the store and back to the cafe meanwhile attempting to reach Nate’s roommate for a way inside. The owner of the cafe was older and when I’d returned to get my wallet, she held it as I tried to pull it back, pointing out that she’d noticed I hadn’t yet bought anything. [Mind you, she’d served me the day prior when I’d bought my hosts both breakfast and coffee totaling well over $50 and was just headed to the store before returning to her establishment]. Grabbing some coffee and utilizing the sun soaked patio, I was on foot again to Nate’s work to get the keys. Back into Denver’s hot sun, I was off to the apartment to rest and recharge. This was the time to undertake the insane task of attempting to repack everything I’d brought and newly acquired. Somehow it all came together. How I’m going to carry it all is totally beyond me, but it’s packed and we shall cross that bridge when we come to it. Being packed besides what I’m wearing in the morning is a huge load off my back, just one more day to be on full vacation.
Returning to the Gypsy House, for what was my third time that day, I got more caffeine, far more than I needed, but enjoying the empty patio. I can’t even begin to sum up this trip. It’s been truly so heavy and complex, it’s difficult to categorized. What I do know is that it was the best decision I’ve ever made. The milage was over 3,500 at this point, just at what had been mapped out. There was lots of milage added along the way and miles and miles of hiking to match. There are so many incredibly beautiful things in our country still left to discover or to discover further and closer, with greater detail and time. I will definitely return, if not for good. Denver is amazing. I don’t know what I expected it to be like. It was nothing like I’d imagined. The city functions in a very relaxed state and had way more big city living than I’d imagined. It has sections outside the main drags with ghettos and dark alleys, that almost reminded me of Los Angeles. Denver is clean, speckled with beautiful little houses and massive ones secluded out in the woods. So much endless time to explore what’s inside your own head. Making new friends along the paths, reconnecting with old ones, reconnecting with nature in such a deep and intense way. Extremely powerful. It felt so good to be myself, by myself.
This is the beginning to a continuation of travel and self growth. No matter what I do for the rest of my life, I will always travel. So many cities to soak yourself in, so many different lives to experience through exploring their hometowns as they simply go with the everyday grain. You encounter a slew of travelers just like you, who also seemingly don’t really have that constant yearn for a set home, they just want to spin and get lost in the entering and exiting circles of travel.
It’s beyond important to take a fucking breath once in a while to keep your head in check and to remind you of what is really important. The world is not as unkind as the one you see with your blinders on. It opens up something totally unexpected inside you, but you have to allow it. I’ve gained a lot of patience and have kept my morals intact.”
June 30th, 2014
“After 5 or so hours of dicking around the Denver Airport with all of my luggage, almost 75lbs, I soaked up the sun at the drop off waiting for the Jet Blue counter to open. [Have to take a ride when you can]. Last night was very quiet. At dinner time we look a speedy walk to Cheeseman Park and caught a spectacular sunset over the mountains. I really didn’t know what to even think about as I was falling asleep. So many different thoughts were firing through my mind. Nate started a new job in the morning, I knew that meant a lot to him. Entering the weed industry. Sigh. This whole experience has significantly changed me for the better. It’s given me a chance to decide my life, or therefor prove to myself that I’ve always had the ability to. Where I want to be, What I like to do and how I want to handle all of it. Those glorious trails flash through my mind, there is so much I want to explore. This has helped me regain the confidence I’ve been fighting for my entire life.
Under the impression that I was expected to fail, my own insecurities as the baby of five in a large family of strong personalities. I often refer to it as Baby of 5 syndrome. This feeling of easing back into my life with different eyes. Like all of the sudden I get it, like I’m finally in the club. This is a club I’d never seen myself in. A club with the towering cliffs and deep chasms, free running rivers and wide open plains. The pin prick and slow release of some heavy cynicism and negative toxins.”
The last page of this journal goes on and on to repeat some feelings and facts that I was reeling in at the time, but in reality I feel as though I’ve said my piece about this trip. It ruled. Another trip and set of stories.