20 April 2012

Exit, Phase One: Failures and Fortunes

Standing in line at an airport at seven in the morning is no time to learn of flawed plans. Apparently many airlines are trying to quit the pet shipping side of their business and require the use of private contractors to deal with logistics. Multiple carriers for a single flight only complicate the issue. Sure would have been nice to know this before reservations and purchased tickets. At seven in the morning no amount of anger and frustration helped. At seven in the morning Hazel went back home and half of the Phase One plan failed.

Two of us made it to Montrose. Children are always the first to rebound.

We spent the first few days on the Western Slope convalescing and I stuffed as much Mexican food in my body as it would digest. Montrose is a decent town, though a few too many spotless, shiny, giant trucks for my taste. What it lacks in civility is made up for in the high percentage of excellent Mexican food joints scattered throughout its boundaries. There are a few "family dining"-style restaurants with their share of sour cream piles and ponds of melted cheese but these serve best to take the pressure off the taquerías, asados, and other small establishments that feature cilantro, lime, and onions rather than dairy products on their food.

With that modest goal accomplished it was time to move to Boise and engage in the second purpose of our Spring Break trip: buy a car, register it, and drive it back to Montrose to wait with Hazel for our return in July. Boise is an alright town but its size dictates that you have to search a little harder for fine Mexican food. I have yet to find the truly inspirational kind of taco that is so readily available on Townsend Avenue in Montrose.

The car was easy enough. It could have happened a day or two quicker but that it happened at all gave me hope that luck was changing. So I left Boise with a car that will eventually bring a dog back to Idaho, bound for Colorado and nearly a week to kill before I had to step on a plane for Switzerland. Time to rest, relax, drive, and enjoy a little bit.

The first stop was Blaine County, the Pioneer Mountains, and a long Easter Sunday of ski touring. I hauled a set of skis from Switzerland, paid extra to take them to Boise, all with the hope that I would have time to ski. I didn't have much time but I had a day and I used it well. As fate would have it all the old haunts were holding snow and the road to them completely clear.

The Andes and the Alps are great for their sustained vertical relief and dramatic beauty. For everyday thrills, total solitude, and penetrating silence, though, I'll take my little corner of the world.

Le domaine skiable de Mont Blizzard:

North vs. South:

The bottom of the Pioneers (and the last of their snow), the Copper Basin, the White Knob Mountains (left), and the Lost River Range including Idaho's tallest, Borah Peak (center, far back):

Top of Lizzie's Bowl (RIP Lizzie):

As good a way to celebrate Easter as anything else I can imagine.

Then began the driving. All 776 miles of it plus another 147 from Boise. First Highway 26 east through Arco and Atomic City. While planning the trip I considered skiing the Big Southern Butte and what might be considered the loneliest and most desolate ski descent in North America. Driving past, I was glad I stuck to the Pioneers. Not sure the 7,550 foot lava dome accumulated enough snow this year to warrant a trip. There is always next year.

Highway 26 to Blackfoot; I-15 through Pocatello south to Highway 91 at Downey. Highway 91 across the Utah border to Logan and a postponed Easter lamb dinner. No Mexican food. Left early the following morning with pal in tow headed for Huntington by way of Fairview Canyon and the Huntington-Eccles Scenic Byway. Left pal outside Huntington and traversed south along the western flank of the San Rafael Swell following Highway 10 to its conclusion (or commencement depending on which way you're headed) at I-70 that begins (or ends, depending) near Baltimore, Maryland.

So in America when the sun goes down and I sit on the old broken-down river pier watching the long, long skies over New Jersey and sense all that raw land that rolls in one unbelievable huge bulge over to the West Coast, and all that road going, and all the people dreaming in the immensity of it, and in Iowa I know by now the children must be crying in the land where they let the children cry, and tonight the stars'll be out, and don't you know that God is Pooh Bear? the evening star must be drooping and shedding her sparkler dims on the prairie, which is just before the coming of complete night that blesses the earth, darkens all the rivers, cups the peaks and folds the final shore in, and nobody, nobody knows what's going to happen to anybody besides the forlorn rags of growing old, I think of Dean Moriarty, I even think of Old Dean Moriarty the father we never found, I think of Dean Moriarty.

Down Highway 191 through a Moab I no longer know or understand. Past the Hole N" the Rock (sic) with its zebras and two-humped petting camel to Highway 46 and the La Sal Store in La Sal, Utah that rests beneath the La Sal Mountains for a Coors or two before descending into Colorado and off the Colorado Plateau.

Down to the Bedrock and through Naturita and the sun began to set. The other Bob defined the day and probably the trip and with windows down and the warmth of the early spring evening he sang it loud and clear.

“What kind of house is this,” he said.
“Where I have come to roam?”
“It’s not a house,” said Judas Priest.
“It’s not a house it’s a home.”

Well, the moral of the story,
the moral of this song,
is simply that one should never be
where one does not belong.
So when you see your neighbor carryin’ somethin’,
help him with his load.
And don’t go mistaking Paradise
for that home across the road.

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