I woke up in the middle of nowhere Monday morning and was headed into virgin territory for the remainder of my trip. After spending a night in Boise, Idaho, I left familiarity in the back window. I headed south towards Utah. My lofty driving goal for was somewhere in the greater Salt Lake City area. I hit some road construction on the way, but made it with enough daylight to spare.
Upon my arrival I scurried into an Albertson’s grocery store to get some snackies before checking in at the Provo KOA campground. I had ambitious thoughts of camping out almost every night, but this wasn’t the reality. During my six week road trip, I ended up camping outdoors twice. The next camping didn’t happen until I reached Louisiana.
I unpacked my belongings and got all cozy in my tent. It was a blustery night. I was in a fragile mood as it had been two full days since I last spoke with my girlfriend in Seattle. We weren’t able to connect my first night in Boise and my two calls from the KOA pay phone went unanswered.
Not to fear though, I had her sweet stories to read. You see my girlfriend wrote 21 stories to accompany for the first three weeks of my trip. I was to read an entry each day. Trust me, they were tearjerkers. Before I left town, I read one while packing my belongings in Portland. I was sobbing like a one year old who can’t walk, yet.
The wind howled through the campground all night long. The freeway noise made it tough to relax, but I had to keep telling myself “I’m doing this. I’m doing this”. I was out there making my way across country by myself doing something I never thought possible.
I must point out, mix tapes weren’t my only companions on my trip. My niece gave me one of those Tamagotchi Pets on my last visit to Seattle. I never once fell asleep at the wheel because my mind was ever so focussed on keeping the digital pet alive.
Tuesday morning, I packed up my belongings saying goodbye to Provo, hitting the highway again. I was off for eastern Utah and then the Mile High city, Denver. I don’t know how I pictured eastern Utah to be in my head prior to my trip, but it was nothing like what I saw out my Accord’s windshield. Sparse and beautiful. It was truly amazing to see the vast nothingness of the Utah desert.
I arrived in Colorado with much anticipation. About eight years before my road trip, I seriously considered attending a small forestry college in Colorado. I did opt to stay close to home, but the state still cast a spell on me. I recall seeing the Rocky Mountains from the distance and being so impressed and enamoured. They rise out of ground and are such a stark contrast to anything else on Colorado’s front range.
Still, I wasn’t certain my aging car packed with all sorts of gear would be able to labor up Loveland Pass, 11,990 feet above sea level. I cranked up my car’s heater to ward off its tendency to overheat, sucking the hot air away from the engine. Anyways, the car made it over the pass, gasping for air in the far right lane. We coasted downhill to a modest altitude of 5,280 feet in Denver where I found a cheap Motel 6 on the outskirts of town.
I kicked myself that night as I didn’t give myself more time to explore the Colorado wilderness. I wished I got off the beaten path to see the natural beauty that is Colorado. Instead, I took a shower, ate some food, and then watched a little television before calling it a night. One last peek at my car parked outside my room before an emphatic flick of the light switch.