March 16-20, 2016
Wednesday, March 16
Welcome to Colorful Colorado at 4:40 and the Tuskegee Airman Memorail Highway (what that has to do with Colorado I don't know). Next exit: the Trail through Time and Rabbit Valley. The Colorado River flowing placidly along the highway. Got off at Fruita and could find nothing of interest so back on the highway to Grand Junction, where I stopped at the West Gate Inn at 5:18, temp 56, odometer 126134, and had a chefs salad at its restaurant.
Thursday, March 17
In 1983, Arthur Godfrey died.
The Utah line to Grand Junction, Colorado
1981: "I've been brewing up a new play, tentatively titled What a Long Strange Trip [retitled When Summer's Gone]. concerning a reunion of six hippies.
I also wrote a song, 'The Graveyard Shift.'"
Grand Junction to Aurora
Up at 7:30, clear blue sky, very cold, red rock cliffs facing the hotel. 8:19, odometer 126134, temp 34, sun in my eyes. Scrambled eggs, oatmeal, English muffin at Denny's in Grand Junction at 8:32. I only finished the oatmeal. $12.04 worth of $2.04 89 octane at a Conoco.
Onto I-70 at 9:18, temp up to 42, into a pass between mountains, yellowish-gray off to my left, ones to my right dark with the sun hiding any detail, nice cliffs up ahead. Wonderful sandstone yellowish-gray cliffs ahead, Colorado River to my left with a little riffling rapids, a massif rises ahead of me to my right, cliffs off to the left dead ahead remind me of Egyptian ruins, coming down into Cameo, red sandstone cliffs. A tunnel under the mountain; still going through this area of pale yellow cliffs, Colorado River now placid. At 9:50, the lane going west is way the heck over there and then there's more distance from that to any mountains in the far distance, rock cliffs just alongside me to the right, then into a bit of a plain with the mountains pulled off some distance. 10:00--some really impressive mountains up ahead, a jagged ridge with big rock fingers coming down toward to the road, yellow, a reddish shield shape one of the steep sides of a cliff, slopes that are pretty much grayish, rolling hills to my right and a valley then the mountains. Little cone-shaped hills now in front of the cliffs to my left, a railroad track to my right, the lanes now closer to each other, an ordinary grass divider between them. 10:12--coming up on Rulison, Parachute behind us, going downhill, a mountain range with some snow up ahead, the cliffs to my left getting shorter and shorter, rolling country and pastureland to my right. 10:16--top edge of those cliffs to my left are edged with snow with some snow on the slopes beneath them, coming down into a valley.
West Rifle, North Meeker, Craig. Very warm, sky has a fair amount of clouds, a fairly large flat one ahead, formless little puffs to my left, black Angus, temp 41. Mile 100 at 10:28, coming into low mountains again, two low ranges coming up. Curving through this valley created by the Colorado River, which is now to the right of the highway, slightly wider than the Quinnipiac River where it goes under Sackett Point Road in North Haven, mountains with streaky snow on their slopes to my right, hills and low mountains to my left, up ahead there’s more mountains with snow on their slopes.
A rather triangular upjutting right next to the road, the town of New Castle, more triangular peaks up ahead higher than the one I just passed, the town of Canyon Creek. 10:11--the mountains have moved in on the road making it a narrow pass, with the Colorado River and a railroad, snow on the slopes to my right, red rock to my left, a peak with a lot of snow on its slopes up ahead. A girder crosses the Colorado, things opening up a bit, snow slopes to my left, snow slopes to my right. Aspen Colorado, Sunlight Mountain and Snow Mass, Yampah Hot Springs, back into an area where the cliffs come right up to the road. White River National Forest at 10:40, river down below us, on this side of it a narrow road, the railroad on the other side, the westbound lane higher than us, through another pass with cliffs overhanging us, Grizzly Creek. 10:53--the walls close in way high above us, the sun shining on the slopes ahead, slightly ghostly trees, the river mostly rock, filled with skree from the mountain. Rock towers above me to the right rising up out of the cliffs, Shoshone, just rock cliffs and slopes off to the right, Hanging Lake, a nice cliff up ahead to the left, very much like the Far West, another tunnel that curves to the left then to the right and is quite long, over that creek again, wonderful rock cliffs still to my left, a tiny little road, maybe a bike path, between us and the river, a tunnel going the other way, untunneled on this side, huge steps down on the left, hoodoos on both sides, Bair Ranch.
Leaving the white River National Forest at 11:01, a small town to the right, into another cliff-sided canyon, river and railroad, no bike path. 11:04--back out of the mountains again, hills to my left, prairie and river to the right. The Gerald R. Ford Memorial Highway. 11:10--Gypsum, a road now off to the right with the river and railroad. 11:2--now it's the Eagle River to my life, snow-covered hillsides directly to my right, sagebrush-dotted hillsides to my left. Steamboat Springs at 11:26, Arrowhead, Beaver Creek Ski Area, in a small valley between rolling snow-covered hills. 11:42--Leadville, snow blowing across the road which curves very sharply, snow slopes on every side, Vail elevation 8150 feet.
11:49--really high snow-covered mountains up ahead, their tops seeming to fade into the whiteness of the sky, which is now totally overcast, the Chains Needed sign not flashing. Entering White River National Forest at 11:52. Great snow-covered pines now on a wet road, temp 29, the car having trouble on these high-altitude hills, this is so nice, snow-covered pines one after another as far as the eye can see and snow-covered mountain behind everything. This little 4-banger struggling valiantly to get up these hills at this altitude. Vail Pass Summit. Going down rather steeply in 4th gear, a lot of traffic, most of which passes me. Copper Mountain and Leadville and what look like 3 or 4 ski slopes coming down a mountain dead ahead of me with its top lost in the clouds, pretty damn big. Officers Gulch at 12:13,
200 miles into Colorado, Frisco and Breckenridge, temp 24.
Back into treacherous territory, very limited visibility, traffic very very slow, fully-covered snow slopes on either side, 3 lanes down to 2. 10:29, really snow-covered slopes up ahead, to my right, little flakes of snow coming down. The Johnson Tunnel 1979. It was one hell of a long tunnel, foggy and wet out here as we come to Loveland Pass. A jeep pulled off to the right with another jeep with yellow blinkers behind it. Going very very slow down hill. Finally back to normal on a very wet road.
Arapahoe National Forest, 5% and 6% Grades Next 4 Miles, snowy slopes on both sides, a road goes underneath the highway, road drier. A frozen waterfall on the cliffs on the left side of the road, another long tie-up at Idaho Springs due to construction at 1:27, 3 lanes down to one. Another tunnel at Hidden Valley, a very short one this time. The road winds to follow a creek, through pine-covered hills, entering a valley. US 6 to Golden, crossing Clear Creek. $24.50 worth of $1.899 at a Phillips 66 in Idaho Springs.
Back on to 8-70 at 1:54. Exit for Chief Hosa. US 6 east at 2:02, I-225 north at 2:20, off of 225 and looking for Xanadu Way at 2:37, 36 degrees.
Spent the evening talking with Francis and Wendy Buckingham, who used to run the old Year of the Rabbit Coffeehouse in Bowie, Maryland. They came out here to care for Wendy’s mother. I had a little trouble finding their place; it's in a kind of cul de sac to the side of Xanadu. It’s a very nice place, inherited from Wendy’s mother, very nice downstairs, nice furniture and paintings, dome of them by Wendy, 3 rooms upstairs, a large living room and kitchen downstairs, a kind of Turkish rug, a high ceiling over the living room, very airy and spacious.
Friday, March 18
1981: "The old lonely blues struck at last. The old spring breeze swirled around outside, drawing forth unarticulated dreams and desires.
And oh, those dreams and memories from Caltech on the edge of perception."
Today followed Francis to the Firestone and left the Mistsubishi off for its 3000-mile service and went to AAA for some maps, picked up the car (no problems), Francis and I played guitar. Pretty damn cold out there, down in the 20s, low teens at night. In the evening, we went to Olive Gardens, where I had lasagna and paid for everything except the drinks. Francis went to bed and Wendy and I talked until 10 o'clock.
Saturday, March 19
2007: "It finally hit me today and I got teary. It's like we're killing him. But there's no choice"
In the afternoon, we drove out to the Garden of the Gods under Pikes Peak, about an hour's drive, with rock formations of thin rock like razor blades that had plunged into the earth from the sky, then to the Chapel of the Air Force Academy and Wendy and I talked again until 12.
Sunday, March 20
2000: "A good performance from all, especially Chris as Rocky, getting a lot of laughs."
Aurora to the Wyoming state line
Leaving Denver at 10:38, temp 41, nearly a full tank of gas, I-225 north, totally blue sky day. Like it or not, I'm now on I-70 west; it was either I-70 west or I-70 east. Coming over a little rise, an incredible of a long range of totally snow-covered mountains, to my right then way off to my left, ahead of me. No place to pull over but no way I could photograph this anyway.
US 85 and US 6 together. 11:00, pretty much out into open country, flat, 55 mph speed limit, out of the city and its stop lights. US 6 and US 85 part company at 11:03 and I head toward Brighton and Greeley. 11:07, still flat country, railroad to my right, snow-covered mountains way off to my left, bright blue water in a pond, houses way off to my left, big sheds coming up, corrugated metal, Fort Lupton, Dacono, Gilcrest City Limits elevation 4750, still flat territory, the snow-covered mountains now behind me, 4 lane highway with a cement divider, still a clear blue sky, a grain elevator off to my right Acfinity Agronomy, back into country, field off to my right past the railroad track. LaSalle City Limits, elevation 7646, still 4-lane highway with cement divider. LaSalle Classic Liquor. 85 north to Cheyenne, bypassing Greeley.
Into the town of Ault at 12:05 elevation 4670, A Unique Little Town Rich in Heritage, a grain elevator on the right, a yellow Union Pacific caboose, the Booze Barn, small one-story houses with pitched roofs, trailer homes. Nothing particularly distinctive about Ault except for the Booze Barn. Pierce City Limit at 12:12, elevation 5053. Passed over the railroad line, now off to my left. Yellow fields like grain on either side, wire fences, one lane each way now with no divider, flat flat flat, no buildings, fields, low trees with seem to have some buds on them. 12:32, rolling country, occasional rock outcroppings, small gulleys, some cirrus in the sky, still prairie, grassland on either side, a bunch of business type buildings, container tanks, little huts with pipes coming out of them, basically 2-story buildings made out of corrugted metal, about 15 power windmills all silent, old style windmill also silent. Then into Wyoming.