Part 1: Where the wind comes from.
Montana is Big Sky Country without a doubt, and often vast and sprawling of landscape. Yet, it seemed to me that much of that place was tamed… at least when compared to what we experienced in Wyoming.
The high country of central Wyoming is a lean and raw place. Sparse does not come close. Wild does not even seem to fit, for that implies that perhaps it could be tamed. Much of the country that we drove through between the border and our evening’s stop at Laramie, especially between Casper and Medicine Bow, seemed beyond the concept of taming. It seemed somehow very, very old and at the same time very, very young. I cannot quite find words to explain it.
While the ubiquitous lines of barbed wire fence, and the occasional homestead remnants were apparent, there were places, up on the vast stretches of the high windswept plateau that gave me the uncanny, and unshakable, sense that we were rolling across the roof of the world. I know that particular moniker is typically reserved for the Tibetan Plateau/Mongolia region, but seriously, if I had seen a couple of yaks and a yurt off in the distance I would not have been the least bit surprised. There were mountains off in the distance, but their height, whatever it may have been, seemed diminished somehow, as if we were seeing them only because we could see down off plateau, across the arc of the world.
Through much of the day we saw cattle and horses and pronghorn and various birds. However, up on the plateau (which at the highest reached towards 8000 feet), we saw only eagles; both bald and golden. There was wind and scrub and rock and snow and more wind. The wind there did not blow the snow as spindrift, but rather as persistent, unbroken currents, streaming across the highway. The snow fences went on for miles and then there were wind turbines, a whole forest of them. As we drove past, the spinning blades cast long, oblique shadows across the landscape creating these bizarre waving stripes of dusk that swept over us as we rolled past.
And then we came down into Medicine Bow. It seemed as if I should know something about this place, but in truth it was barely there. Not long after, we were rolling into Laramie.
Part 2: Not much else to say.
Something about that windswept plateau left me feeling a bit empty, though not in a desperate sense; purged maybe, though of what I do not quite know. Tomorrow we head down into Colorado, to wrangle with the Front Range. It will be a short drive, but hectic. Then, a day of rest. The trip is coming to a close and soon we will be rolling through New Mexico.
Tomorrow and the next day are about family and recuperating before one last big push. On to Woodland Park, to visit the Parents and introduce Bella to the pack of family dogs.
Aaaanndd, Day 10, the Front Range.
Part 1: The uncanny change when crossing the state line.
We rolled out of Laramie, through one last bit of emptiness, and then there were red sandstone outcrops off in the distance. We crested a small rise and headed down into a broad valley, where suddenly there were rock outcroppings and cliffs and pine trees and snow-capped mountains in the distance, and the sign said welcome to Colorado. Didn’t have to tell me that.
We stopped on a dirt side road to let Little stretch her legs. Dry and gravelly, the small road was a perfect exercise ground and she ran after the ball like she has not been able to since last autumn. She called it quits after about 15 minutes or so and it was on into Fort Collins. We stopped briefly for a refill on coffee and then it was on to Denver.
The Front Range is a mess; concrete and asphalt sprawl and manic traffic. It is one thing to fly across the open spaces of Alberta/Montana/Wyoming, but to maintain those speeds through five lanes of mixed traffic for a good hour or more through the Denver madness, well, I was pretty strung out. About half way between the end of that mess and the beginning of the Colorado Springs mess (similar, just smaller), there is a place called the Greenland Open Space. We knew about it from last year, as I had done a run there, and so we stopped to let Bella play some more. It is always good to find a dog park mid-day for her, especially a big one with nice dogs.
And then it was on past the Springs, up through Ute Pass, through Woodland Park and up the mountain to the Parents. They live at 9100 feet, and the view across the valley out their main room is of Pike’s Peak. It is a pretty spectacular spot. Time for a visit and playing with the dogs. We say put tomorrow (today, as I write this… slightly hungover from a bit too much fun on top of the mountain last night) as it is forecast to snow, (which it is doing.)
Part 2: The past in the present and consideration of the future.
As just noted, I am writing this on the morning of Day 11. We are hanging out here in the snow with the neighborhood turkeys and deer. We plan to spend the day reorganizing our traveling life and doing laundry and preparing for the last stretch… the home stretch I guess. Having essentially done the same thing for the past 10 days, we all have had this odd feeling that life now consists of waking, driving, and sleeping.
Many roadtrips, when undertaken for fun, lead one back to where they began. In this case, we go to a place I have never been and one that the Wife has been through, but does not really know. We go to start a new life, but I do not really know what to expect from our arrival, or from any of the days to come really.
Tomorrow we go on to Albuquerque, another place I have never been. Wary of left turns, I look forward to seeing it, but also to leaving it, as the following day will be short and will in fact, be the day of our arrival.