I’ve been back for over 2 weeks now, actually. The “vacation” was grueling, especially the first part. I’m not even going to get into interpersonal things…I’ll save that for never. But let’s just say the past two months have been full of close calls.
First of all, let’s get into something that happened even before I left on vacation. Something that happened but I didn’t even write it down in this journal because it was so incredibly terrifying at the time. I don’t even remember the day…I think it was a Monday? July 26th maybe? Jasper had just gotten his rabies shot so we decided it would be safe to take him to a dog park. We went to our favorite dog park at the time, Warner Park. We like it because there is water. There were some large dogs there and he was getting a little trampled, but nothing bad. Eventually all the dogs left and it was just Stan and I and our dogs. We were sitting on a picnic bench, Jasper sunning himself like he enjoys doing, and all of a sudden Lucifer Sam, who had been sitting with us, decided to just get up and head toward the exit gate. Just like that. We thought it was odd, but we took it as Lucifer Sam telling us it was time to go. Then some people came with lots of dogs, a woman with a bunch of little fluffwads and her daughter with two larger dogs. It was those two larger dogs that immediately headed toward Jasper in an aggressive manner. I tried to pull Jasper up by his harness, but it was difficult, and he swung around on his harness and was screaming. I eventually got him into my arms and I was completely in shock. Fortunately, no blood was drawn. I was shaking. Stan bopped the aggressive dog on the nose…not hard, but enough to tell him “cut that out!” The woman, the %*^#&, was staring at us with this evil disney witch glare. As if it was our fault. As we exited, she said something like “small dogs should go in the small dog area.” We didn’t respond. What a moron. One has to exit via the large dog area anyway, which is where the incident took place. She was just a nasty piece of work…letting a pre-teen manage two large (unbehaved and uncontrolled) dogs on her own while she walked her precious pack of multiple fluffballs. I know this is getting into sterotypes, but it didn’t even seem Madison. It seemed Hollywood. And you just knew there was a divorce in there somewhere. Nasty Piece of Work. On a funny end note, as our minivan was pulling out of the parking lot, we saw one of the precious fluffwads break free of its fluffpack and escape under the fence. Preteen was in charge of retrieving the fluffer. Poor little dog probably wanted to get away from its awful life with Queen Evil Glare.
I cannot go to Warner Park now. That incident spoiled it for me. We’ve been going to Token Creek now because they have a nice small dog area. Jasper had a very nice day there this past Friday. He met two Bichon/Shi Tzu crosses (a coincidence…two separate parties, unrelated and unbeknownst to eachother arrive at the same time with the same kind of hybrids). And he’s met nice large dogs on walks, so we’re trying to undo any fear of other dogs (especially large dogs) he might have had since the Warner incident. I don’t know who was more scared though, him or me.
Oh, and the smartest act I might have ever done in my entire life was done on August 4, the day before I left. I backed up my computer.
Anyway, the vacation. Or so some people thought. “Oh, you’re going to Colorado? How fun!” Um….not really. It’s not that type of vacation. Uneventful first day, except the desk clerk at the motel in Lincoln could join the Crusty Club along with Queen Evil Glare. First she tells me they don’t have a room, even though I made a reservation several days in advance. Then, when I can’t get an internet connection and go down to the lobby to see if there is a problem with their wireless, she was very curt. “Just click the button and accept the terms.” I couldn’t even get to that point…I couldn’t even get a login screen. %*^#&. Weeks later, I check my Wyndham rewards and see I was never credited for that stay. Called up and told them, said they’d credit me. Week later, still no credit. Had to contact Wyndham and deal with some Zombies. Very odd. Finally got the points.
Iowa and Nebraska seemed very lush, but as soon as we got into Julesburg, I immediately felt desiccated. It was dry and hot. I was drinking mass quantities of water and sports drinks. It was that way all the way to the Fort, and even worse there because of the strange practices of Coloradans.
OK, what is the deal with Coloradans?–at least the ones we stayed with, and we stayed overnight with three different households in three different parts of the state and were guests for a few hours at another. I swear, they are brainwashed by something because they all behaved the same with windows and summer air. There must be some kind of odd propaganda in the news there that tells people without air conditioning to SHUT THEIR WINDOWS during the hot part of the day. WTF? OK, it’s hot in Madison too but rest assured, my windows are WIDE OPEN and we have a fan and ceiling fan going. We NEED FRESH air. We need circulation. I’m sorry, but that cool night air you let in the early morning before isn’t cutting it at 4pm when your windows are closed. This is crazyland. Four different households. Same behavior. It’s gotta be something in the water. Or the propaganda. I felt like Elaine in the Seinfeld episode where they’re in Florida with Jerry’s Parents. PLEASE OPEN A WINDOW!
Stan and I got some things accomplished over the weekend in the Fort. We took a couple morning bike rides on Sunday and then on Monday. And that would be the last of the bike rides during that trip. We bought some delicious Palisade peaches from a roadside stand south of town. On Tuesday we headed up to Rocky Mountain National Park, Trail Ridge Road, some place I probably haven’t seen for over a decade. We took the dogs and our laptops with us. As I was trying to load my camera’s flash card at the top of Trail Ridge, my MacBook Pro started acting odd. I had to shut it down. It never started up again, not there, and not when we got back down to Fort Collins. Try to enjoy the mountains when your computer is dead. You can’t. It’s like I’m lugging this lifeless body of a computer on a trip with me. It’s like Weekend At Bernies, but with a computer. It’s odd. The irony is that we had just been talking with Bill a few days before, and he had asked if we had to replace our hard drives on our laptops yet, because he had to. Weird. Amazingly, I found an authorized Apple service provider in Old Towne (oh, do I HAVE TO add that “e”?). It was convenient. At least I didn’t have to go to Boulder. I dropped it off and would wait 3-5 business days for it to be fixed while I did other Fortsy-ish things before we headed to the Western Slope.
In the middle of the week I’m feeling really drained. Lots of stress. Family stress. Computer dying stress. General stress.
Friday night we go out to eat with Bill. I get a call before the food comes. It’s from the Mac place. The prognosis isn’t good. Looks like my hard drive can’t be saved. They’ll try, but it leaves me with a sick feeling and unable to eat as much sushi as I had planned to.
Saturday we decide to go up Colorado 14 as far as we can get. Cameron Pass is beautiful. I know I had probably been past that way 35 years before with my parents. But I couldn’t remember it at all, for obvious reasons. It was as if I was seeing something with new eyes. Past Cameron Pass was a basin which contained the very Cheneyesque town of Walden, which seemed more like Wyoming than Colorado. I know I’d probably been through Walden before too, but I didn’t remember it either. However it’s rather unforgettable. But not in a good way. It had this weird opposite effect on me. Usually, I feel weird in the mountains because there is no farmable land. I know that sounds odd coming from basically a more urban creature such as myself (I guess I would be counted demographically as urban rather than rural, even though aesthetically I don’t think I’m really that definable in any of those categories…I posses no real urban, rural or suburban distinguishing traits). Once I leave mountains and get on flat or slightly hilly farmable land, I feel better. Safer. But Walden was farmable…mostly hay or winter wheat. But it frightens me. I feel much safer in the mountains as we head back toward Cameron Pass. There’s a Visitor’s Center in the mountains. It has a hummingbird feeder. It makes Stan and I decide to get one when we get back in Madison. We get back to Fort Collins. I check my email on Stan’s computer at Panera (we need to use Panera in Fort Collins as neither of our laptops have internal modems and cannot check mail on my mom’s dial-up). I’m not feeling very hungry. I just eat some Panera bread. That night I get sick. I get very sick.
I am in severe pain in my stomach. I force myself to throw up, hoping it will make me feel better. I throw up all night. I’m hallucinating…thoughts, random thoughts keep running through my head. Snippets of life from my past, from my present. Stupid thoughts. Irrelevant thoughts. I’m hallucinating but I don’t have a fever. It’s 97.7°. I’m wondering if I will die. I throw up all day Sunday. I eat nothing, I only drink water. I throw up all Sunday night. I wonder what would happen with my health care if they have to take me to a hospital since I am from out of state. I’m hoping maybe I should just die. Before we left on vacation, we had gotten a letter from the parents of someone we knew from undergrad school–CSU. Our friend Brian had died. We hadn’t seen him since the late 80s. He moved back east. We moved to the midwest. We lost track of eachother. He found us on the internet about 8 years ago, wrote us an email. We wrote back, but never heard from him again. His parents wrote us that he had a serious illness. He witnessed 9/11. He moved back to Colorado several years ago, unbeknownst to us. He died a couple weeks after we lost Plato. I wondered if people come back to Colorado to die. I wondered if I would die since I am there. Maybe some people come back to Colorado because they love it. But when I’m there I hate it. I don’t want to die in Colorado. I would be a failure if I died in my parents’ house.
I finally cease throwing up Monday morning. But I still cannot eat. My abdominal muscles are in bad pain from so much vomiting. I can’t sit up. It hurts to walk. As each day goes by, I start to sit up more and walk more. Stan buys me some jello and chicken soup. By Thursday I am able to walk slowly but still don’t want to go anywhere. Stan picks up my computer from the repair shop. Fortunately, there was no charge since it was still under AppleCare (two years exactly!), I guess there are still some bright spots in my life. It had a hard-drive-ectomy, and a new hard drive put in that had 50 more gigs because they were out of the old ones. They supposedly salvaged all my files, but not my apps. Well that’s pretty much completely useless. I would have to create a new account. I decided to save all that for when I return to Madison. I’d have my Time Machine backups there (smartest thing I ever did). I’ll just continue to use Stan’s laptop to check my email until then.
Friday morning we leave Fort Collins for Montrose. It’s a nice August day, and not a snowstorm in sight (unlike other times when we travel in the fall). We take the opportunity to take Highway 6 to Loveland Pass rather than go through the Eisenhower tunnel…stinky, claustrophobic icky tunnel. A very pleasant alternative. We take pictures at the pass. Very pretty. Some annoying touristas, but pretty scenery nonetheless. Back on I-70 on the other side, we see an overturned FedEx truck. Had we gone through the tunnel, we might have been part of that accident, or at least witnessed it. Having gone the long way, we were well enough removed in time from it happening. I hate I-70. It’s even worse in ski season. It’s just one of those many things that makes you swear off Colorado if you lost all family ties to the place.
By the time we’re in Montrose, I’m feeling better. Still not up for a bike ride though. We don’t do the typical Montrose day trips like we usually do. No Ouray-Durango-Cortez. Just a short trip to Delta to buy some roadside local peaches, Palisade to buy some jarred fruit and stuff and a drive into the strange Escalante Canyon until it got a little creepy and the roads got a little mini-van unfriendly.
Once nice thing about Colorado is they have this really great cricket population with nice slow classic chirps that sing me to sleep every night. In Madison we have tons of Orthoptera. It’s like a symphony of various hoppers and trilling things and crickets and “bicycle insects” (they sound like an old 1970s 10-speed bike clicking) and the beloved katydid. But not much of the nice, slow deliberate chirping of those classic big fat black crickets. Despite the hellish days on this trip, a lone minstrel cricket would sing me to sleep every night.
We leave Montrose the following Thursday. We do NOT take I-70 back and we do not go back to Fort Collins on our way out of Colorado. We had decided that this would be a good time to take the Highway 50 trip we’d spoken of many years before, “The Loneliest Road.” I almost misnamed it “The Father Road,” which would be more apt in our personal experience, but I see that honor has been given to Highway 30 (the only way to cure the Nebraska Interstate Boredom Blues). Anyway, lonely is good. Lonely means no traffic, and that is such a comfort cruise compared to I-70. Anyway, I had this strange curiosity about Rocky Ford.
Stan lived in Rocky Ford when he was a baby. His father taught at the high school there (what are they, the fighting melons or something?). I’d never seen southeastern Colorado. And now was my chance. It’s in a river valley, and it’s a green oasis compared to the rest of Highway 50 in and out of the town. The tiny town was so lush and dark with trees. We stopped at a large fruit shop and bought melons to take home with us. Stan wished he’d grown up there instead of Yuma. Yuma is rather windswept and dried-up feeling. Rocky Ford is sort of a cute, whacky little shady town. A melon mecca.
We stayed in Lamar that night. Seemed like a real cowboy kind of town, which put Stan in the mood for takeout Beef Brisket from the Hickory House. Can ya get any more western than that? The next day we drove through Kansas. I don’t think there’s any non-boring way to go through Kansas. We stayed on 50 up until Hutchinson…then we headed northeast to Kansas City. We stayed in Lawrence for the night. Ordered Chinese. The next morning as we were trying to find a highway to get us around Kansas City, we saw a field of sunflowers. Those were the first sunflowers we’d seen in Kansas for the entire trip. There were cars parked by the side of the road and people were photographing the sunflowers in the early morning sunrise mist. It was a truly odd site. I wanted to photograph the people photographing the flowers, but I thought that might be too postmodern. Anyway, it was a bit difficult to stop, and I didn’t have a computer to load the picture into.
As we got into Iowa, we stopped at a “Iowa Welcome Center” which doubled as an Amish Gift Shop full of craftsy stuff and food. We bought some jellies, but had to fight through a crowd of rather obnoxious southern-accented oldsters on a (probably casino) tour bus. The cashier told Stan it was nice to see a “civilian”…whatever that meant. We did not stop at Harvey’s Greenhouse in Adel as we usually do. It was still daylight when we got home. We had to fight through the overgrown pumpkin patch that had taken over our yard.
I know I’ve probably forgotten a lot of things. I’ll add them as I remember them. I’m feeling better. It was NOT salmonella–trust me. Stan and I ate the same things. He got sick several weeks before with similar symptoms. Was it a virus? Who knows. It was awful though, and certainly not psychosomatic, but I’m better now. It seemed that once we got out of Fort Collins, I continued to improve. Maybe it’s just a cursed place.