I need to write about the last month before it all fades away into the black hole I tend to get in my memory.
We had driven from Houston to San Antonio, where we stayed for three days with my best friend from high school, Anne Marie, and her husband, Harry. They had a buddy who was interested in buying our travel trailer but who ultimately had to decline due to the quickly approaching Christmas holiday. Understandable. We still came out ahead since we were able to enjoy a very nice and unhurried visit with our friends. But we had to get going to stay on schedule, so left and made our way towards El Paso, across the bottom of New Mexico and into Arizona.
Neither Robert nor I had ever seen saguaro cactus in real life…they are a trip, with their “hands” in the air, big as trees. We would love to come back and take pictures with them, but since we were actually in a bit of a hurry by then to sell the trailer and they don’t grow to the north of Phoenix, where Prescott is located, we had to pass them by. Unfortunately for Moonlight, another thing that grows down there is grass that produces caltrops-like burrs that stabbed and stuck to her paws. Every time we stopped for her to go potty, she stepped on a few, even on the sidewalks. She was most unhappy.
Robert had made an advertisement for the trailer on Craigslist while we were still in Texas, so he started getting texts and calls about it a couple of days before we even arrived at our friend Sue’s house.
We wound up selling it to a young guy with a little family who wanted to park it out on his lake property. Cool beans! We lined up a uhaul rental trailer for our return trip back to Alaska and managed to transfer our entire household’s belongings into the compact 4×6 space and the back of the excursion. Robert packed it in such a way that it would be easy(-er) to offload some furniture I wanted to give to my eldest daughter, as we would be stopping by again to see her, the grandkids, and my son in Grand Junction.
While staying with Sue and her husband, we also were able to meet with Joe and Bobby, also from Anchorage, and have a nice dinner out, all together. Being involved with the Chugach Gem and Mineral Society has brought us some wonderful friends. Good times, indeed. Sue took us to a really cool junk shop near her house, where I picked up a sad-looking trumpet for $25. Not entirely certain why or what I’m going to do with it but I used to play in middle school, so I bought it.
After saying goodbye to Sue, we headed on to Durango, Colorado where we stayed a very pleasant night with our friend Rose, who used to be an antique dealer and whose lovely home is full of interesting curiosities and brimming with beautiful artifacts. Just the kind of place that gets a couple of collector’s such as ourselves’ hearts beating faster, and in such gorgeous surroundings! We both are anxious to return to the southwest area of Colorado someday soon.
Instead of taking the more direct route of Highway 550 north from Durango to Montrose, Colorado, we opted to stay out of danger from avalanches and a lack of guardrails and go up and around into Utah through Moab. What an interesting place.
There were orange sandstone formations, including an obligatory arch, waves and ripples and humps of stone. Another place we intend to investigate more thoroughly in the future, by jeep, if at all possible.
A short visit with Josh and his girlfriend over dinner, then on to secure a hotel room before meeting with Katie to give her a little round antique table and hope chest that had belonged to my Grandmother DeRuiter. I would have liked to have brought them up to Alaska with us but there are already two chests in this house. Besides, Katie needs more room for hope right now, so I lovingly turned the heirlooms over to her. The next day we were scheduled to leave on our trip north, but little Erabella had been sick that night so Katie and the kids stayed home and we visited a little more. We left Grand Junction around noon and took I-70 west towards Salt Lake City, Utah.
The entire corridor from Provo through SLC to Ogden must have used to have been so incredibly beautiful, set in between two mighty and picturesque rows of mountain ranges as it is, but now is so built up with ugly beige buildings, businesses and subdivisions that it’s hard to see the appeal to warrant such sprawl. A thin but noticeable brown cloud of pollution hung over it all. We both really dislike having to go through mile after mile of intense traffic, but once you get through it into Idaho, a deep sigh has usually dispelled the aversion.
We had radio to listen to and cell service, however, and we learned that there was a winter storm barreling down from the northwest which we were on course to intercept unless we tried to race it and get into Montana that night. We debated whether to chance spending the night in Pocatello, Idaho or try to get over the passes before the storm got worse. Being the navigator at that point, I suggested we try slipping over before the worst of the storm hit the passes, and Robert agreed. So we drove that night until we got to Dillon, Montana where we got a room and slept in a bit that next morning.
The last leg of our epic road trip was nigh; Montana through Canada to Anchorage. In three days in the dead of winter.