Leaving Raton, New Mexico this morning, we found ourselves immediately in canyons. There was dense fog, and the situation was a bit intimidating. Thankfully, this didn’t last too terribly long, and the scenery soon became beautiful. While we encountered some of the arid landscapes that are a bit depressing to me, being at a higher elevation has been very pleasant. Today, we traversed in a northward fashion the entirety of Colorado, passing many charming and picturesque mountain towns along the way. If I didn’t think I’d have to worry about leaving my house in wintertime, I could see myself happy to live in such a town.
I have been extremely tired. Sometimes I feel like I’m fighting to stay awake behind the wheel. Dangerous, I know. Even engaging in conversation doesn’t always help. Sometimes I feel like my eyes are crossing or going a little crazy and darting randomly … only not in such an energetic way as the word “randomly” might imply. It’s more like they are drunkenly staggering around. After stopping for lunch in Ft. Collins, Colorado today, I made Melanie take over for the rest of the drive. I slept some, off and on, as we made our way to Laramie.
Overall, the drive was much shorter today, very slow traffic through Denver notwithstanding. It was nice to arrive at our hotel with more time to spare. Melanie and I both crashed for a few minutes, but the boys were antsy to go swimming. Our hotel features an “indoor heated pool,” but I’m not sure what obscure meaning of “heated” they are using. Whatever it is, it apparently has nothing to do with raising the temperature of the water. The pool was quite chilly. Luckily, there was also a hot tub, and that felt blissful for the last several minutes of our time there. I think it helped my right arm, which has circulation problems. (Probably some sort of carpal tunnel or something. It goes dead in the night often enough, but it’s remained problematic for much of the daytime over the last couple of days, which is unusual. Melanie thinks it might have something to do with driving, because her arm went to sleep after driving for a while.)
We splurged on dinner and went to Chili’s, much to the chagrin of our children, who wanted Burger King. (The play land at Burger King was certainly a major factor in their vote.) Melanie and I were sick of fast food and happy to do something more “real.” We had fun, and I enjoyed my meal even though the first two things I attempted to order were out of stock. There isn’t much to this city of Laramie, and I guess they don’t feel much need to replenish their restaurants all that often. Near the end of our meal, Creegan decided to climb over the seats to the abandoned table beside ours and start drinking whatever beverage the customer had left behind. Thankfully, we’re quite certain it was just water.
Leaving the restaurant, we were all quite chilled by the wind. Despite wishing I had a jacket or something, I felt very giddy. This dry air feels so sensational, and to think that the air can feel brisk in late June is just mind-blowing to me. It sounds absurd, I’m sure, but I think the dry air is really something I’ve missed. I’ve been homesick for that particular sensation. Not having it for the last eight years has made me feel out of place. I’m not kidding. It’s like something really important has been missing, and that’s what it is. I don’t know why it is so important and essential to me, more than the sight of mountains or other things that people might consider more important or aesthetically significant. For me, it’s a crisp, cool, dry breeze that my soul has been crying out for over these last several years. There’s something very nostalgic and comfortable about it. It feels like home and makes me feel safer and more secure. There must be a strong childhood association with it somewhere in my mind or something. It’s been important to me to feel it again.
Tomorrow will be our final day of driving, though it will be a decently long one. I don’t look forward to it. On the plus side, Melanie and I have listened to a lot of good music on our trek across the country, including albums by Barenaked Ladies, Ben Folds, Counting Crows, The Doors, Duran Duran, Imperial Teen, The New Pornographers, New Radicals, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Steve Miller Band, Stiff Little Fingers, Tears for Fears, and Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers. I only brought along albums I think are extremely good, so I’ve thoroughly enjoyed myself. And I’ve still got several great albums left in our stash, from Hayden to Michael Jackson to Queen. Sometimes when nothing else seems to help me stay awake, a song that I love and can sing along with wakes me up and puts me in very good spirits.