I didn’t mean to take two days off from writing but Monday night we had no Internet and Tuesday I was just too tired. I’ll explain why in a moment.
We’re back in Salt Lake City, half way home to San Rafael. This afternoon we covered much of Utah, which is how we know that today is line painting day. We got stuck in traffic (ever so briefly) a few times because the yellow lines dividing the two-lane freeway were being painted. They looked really nice. The traffic jams lasted no more than five minutes–remarkable as far as I’m concerned. If road crews were out painting freeway lines during the day in the Bay Area, the traffic would be unbearable. But we were in the middle of nowhere so it was okay.
That’s not much of a story, but the title is so good I couldn’t resist. (It was that or “Westward ho!”)
But getting back to the beginning: we left Denver Monday afternoon for the short drive to Glenwood Springs. This time we were staying in the Sunlight Mountain Inn, just south of town. All went smoothly and Samantha led us back to Glenwood Springs without incident. Until we hit the final stretch of the day’s journey. She seemed so sure of herself when she had me turn right onto a gravel road that wound its way up the mountain that I obeyed even though the road sign said FS 300 instead of County Road 117. Samantha said it was County Road 117, so it must have been County Road 117, right? As we drove up and up and up, however, I began to get worried. Yet Samantha knew what the road we were on looked like, so we figured she must have known where she was going. When she announced that we had arrived at our destination on the right, we knew she was wrong. Here’s what it looked like:
So beautiful. So serene. And so empty.
As we headed back down that bumpy gravel road I told Dave about the episode of The Office when Michael followed a GPS’s instructions right into a lake while Dwight shouted at him to stop. That’s kind of how it felt.
Once back on the paved road, we noticed a sign directing us toward the Sunlight Mountain Inn. When we’d made the wrong turn, we were one minute away. Choosing not to be bitter, Dave and I laughed about it, then went in to register.
After we unpacked the car, fed Ralphie, and ate dinner, we wandered around outside where we met Clayton, who runs the inn with his wife (I think her name is Kate, but I’m not sure). He suggested that the next day we hike up the mountain, which is a ski resort. He told us about all the wildlife in the area: elk, moose, bears (both brown and cinnamon), and cougars. Possibly because he saw the look of panic in my eyes, he reassured us (me) that the bigger animals would leave us alone because we had a dog. (Whether because of Ralphie and Bella–you’ll understand in a minute–or not, the bigger wildlife left us alone). We did see a porcupine during our evening walk. Ralphie really wanted to go after it but wiser heads prevailed.
There were only two other people staying in the Inn that night so it was quiet except for the brook running just outside our room. Before going to bed, we went out to look at the stars. There may not have been internet access at the inn, but that was okay. It was peaceful and beautiful. Like camping, only inside. The way I like camping.
In the morning we had a quick breakfast then headed up the mountain. On the way there we were joined by a shepherd mix whose name we later learned was Bella. (At one point during the hike I called to her, trying out the first name that came to me: Bella. Because she didn’t respond, I figured I was wrong. Turns out she was just ignoring me.). Bella is a very friendly dog who knows the mountain really well. She seemed to be guiding us as we hiked. Dave called her our outrider; I called her the vanguard. She’d run ahead and sniff stuff, then wait for us or run back to herd us along. Ralphie did really well once he decided that she was helping us. I credit her more than Ralphie for warding off the bears and cougars.
The hike was rigorous but gorgeous. We passed aspen stands, evergreens, and fields of flowers and butterflies.
But the view from the top made the hike (and the next day’s soreness) completely worthwhile:
The trip down the mountain was easier, naturally. Bella chose to stay on the mountain, but we knew our way home so that was cool. As we neared the bottom, we saw what appeared to be trampoline camp going on behind the ski resort. That explained the noise that we’d heard on our evening walk: little girls at camp. It looked like fun.
When we made it back to our room to finish packing, we realized we had been hiking for two hours. That’s why I was too tired to write anything last night. Promising to return, we checked out and packed the car. Before we left I made Dave take a picture of the car because it will probably never again be so dirty. I felt like an outdoor adventurer for just a little while.
Then we headed back to town for lunch. I can confirm that the Daily Bread, the diner where we ate breakfast last Thursday morning, has the best Greek omelette I have ever eaten. I’m going to miss that place.
We finally got on the road for Green River, Utah around 1:00. Dave made a kick ass playlist for that leg of the trip and we played a game in which I tried to identify the song and artist. I lost. Spectacularly. It seems that Dave is fond of Warren Zevon, who, until yesterday I could not identify. The list also included They Might Be Giants, Amos Lee, Johnny Cash, the Cure, the Pogues (I knew that song!), Siouxsie and the Banshees, Mississippi John Hurt (another of Dave’s favorites), Sinead O’Connor (another one I knew), Paul McCartney (from his Wings days), and John Lennon. I know there were more, but I can’t remember them.
Green River remains hot and boring, so we didn’t do much there. At least I didn’t do much there. Dave took Ralphie for a walk and took a few pictures but otherwise we hung out in the room and read.
If I hadn’t been so tired and if I had known the view of the river was so nice, I might have gone with them. But I didn’t so I have to settle for the picture that Dave took:
This morning I woke up with the sore neck that has been bothering me for a few days (a Wii injury, I think) AND with a sciatica flare-up (what I get for hiking up a mountain and then not stretching. Learn from me and stretch!) The drive from Green River to Salt Lake City was uncomfortable at best until all the ibuprofen kicked in. I finally started feeling better around the time we checked into the hotel and took Ralphie for a short walk to play fetch with his new toy. But I’ll write about that tomorrow. Now I’m heading to the hot tub to soak.