“Where are you from?” asks the 3 year old Suzannah Sky
“From here and there.” I reply. She looks at me perplexed.
“Where is here? And, where is there?” She pokes back with the same quizzical expression.
I wasn’t meaning to be clever with my response. Here was Boulder, Colorado. There was, well for the past year had been, Victoria, BC. But, there had never truly felt long enough to become here. I’d criss-crossed back and forth across North America, across the world, at times with just the clothes on my back, or weighted a tad more, sitting at the wheel of a truck, with my lady friend or two now, since dog tagged along. And, with all that, I never truly found myself neither here nor there.
My journey back from Canada to Colorado had been one of little sleep, bottomless cups of coffee, endless talk. My good friend Nick had decided to join me so I’d diverted down to Portland, Oregon to pick him up. He was enticed by the prospect of adventure that the haze and confusion of infinite road miles can induce. Our plan was to run the good stuff, eat, drive some and sleep if time permitted. As the hours, then days went by, the gradual unfolding of the trip seemed to meld into one undefined stream of experience. It soon became apparent that neither of us knew whether we were here or there.
The roll with it, spontaneous approach to such an endeavor can be liberating at times but self-defeating when indecision and disorganization take over. We’d somehow managed to leave Nick’s place as late as 5pm on Sunday, with the intention of covering at least 8 hours before stopping for the day. By 1am though we were way up highway 21, on our first detour off the freeway, to “go check out the Sawtooths.” Of course, it looked like a great idea on the road atlas and didn’t even seem that far. Poor judgement at an ungodly hour, had lead us over an hour off course, halfway past Idaho City, running into some serious snow with the zig zaggy mountain roads making dog feel vomity. Retracing our path, we regained the freeway at 4 am, pulling off at the first exit to sleep. We’d briefly contemplated pushing all the way back to Boulder but, neither of us felt that committed. Hunkered down in our goose feathered cocoons by the side of the car, 3 hours of sleep, felt like 3 minutes with the harrowing wintry, wind, leaving a glaze of frost atop our bags.
We got to Arches National Park early evening, following a mind-numbing stretch marked by discussions ranging from politics to running shoes, from philosophy to food. The latter became more dominant as the good choices had dwindled and the Rio burrito accompanied us for longer than it was welcome. The sign at the entrance of the park read “The office is closed but the park is open.” We drove in wishfully thinking we may find an open spot to camp despite all the notices indicating otherwise. We pulled up at sunset in an empty spot reserved for 3 nights. After a short run into the canyons, marked by cold burnt orange sand filling our shoes, we boiled some noodles and downed a couple brews. No one came to claim their spot that night so we threw down the pads and slept until dawn. We hit the road at first light, out the gate with a casual salute, like shameless thieves of natural wonder.
We’d got a late start again, lingering at Eklectika cafe in Moab until past lunchtime, nestled by the hot stove, juggling to stay in tune with the Real and the Virtual. As the day slipped away and after some 2000 miles of driving, our hope was to squeeze in a quick summit of Grays and Torreys as a nice re-introduction to the high country. On our way up to the trailhead, I paused for a minute by an old dilapidated cabin, to catch my breath and tie my shoelace. As I knelt down, a drop of blood splashed on the tip of my shoe. The dry, thin air induced a weeze, a cough, crackled in my nostrils, calloused my lungs. Catching up to me, Nick looked equally haggard but still wore a smile on his face. Dog, stretching her legs, launched for the chase after a snow white hare. I didn’t have the energy to reprimand her but managed to just catch her tail before it was too late. With her feral instincts kicking in, we would have been the ones having to spend the night chasing her. Neither of us felt like pushing for the summit in the dark. Instead we played around unsuccessfully with the camera timer, trying to capture our balancing poses on the high railing of the bridge. Sleep pulled the short straw on this trip. Lack of it and thin air had us giggly, delirious. So, where is here and where is there? After all that, I’m not sure really.