Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Week 32: Colorado---and home

We've been back in San Francisco for about ten days, getting used to it. It's odd not to be anonymous. It's odd to not be in a little Dawn and Larry bubble. But it's good, too. I appreciate the beauty of California so much, the rolling green hills in the East Bay, the vast stretches of farmland in the Central Valley, the ocean as we drive towards my mom's house, where we are staying for the summer. There's so much about California that I was so used to seeing that I'd stopped really seeing it. And the pace here is so fast, the traffic, the pressures--I'm easily exhausted. I'm an easily exhausted person anyways, which is why having a nice long winter to hole up during fit the pace of me. I found myself missing the snow and the cold and the slow pace of Wisconsin. While friends in Wisconsin, Chicago, and Minnesota were bemoaning another snowfall, I was feeling sad I still couldn't be surrounded by the gentle quiet and stillness that snow offers. Indeed, the last several months have been healing, and a much-needed break and rest from the go-go-go expectations of always-sunny California.

Our return to the City
But before we got here, we had a lovely week in Colorado, visiting friends and family. Albuquerque was a simple pit-stop at a Motel 6 and a minor car repair, then we headed to Colorado, where we drove through Denver at rush hour to stop for a couple of nights with Larry's good friend and former roommate, Melinda.

Random motel where we stopped for lunch one day
Longmont was a beautiful smaller town. When we arrived, it was still warm--I wore a dress for our first night at dinner. Downtown Longmont was really sweet with plenty of cafes and restaurants, music shops, and bicycle stores. It looked like a vital town with deep roots. We loved visiting with Melinda and her four dogs--Mace, Abner, Q-tip, and her foster Bert. We had great conversations about wanderlust, the world of dogs, music, and the wonderful food we were eating. Longmont is definitely a town we could spend more time in. It had a relaxed pace, was beautiful, and Melinda was an awesome host.

Me and Bert (Melinda's foster), afternoon rest
Even though Spring was starting to arrive when we landed there, a storm was rolling in, and in order to make Aspen by the next afternoon before the storm, we woke up super early, loaded the truck, said our goodbyes, and headed out over the rockies. What a beautiful drive. We did manage to miss most of the storm, though there was a bit of snow on our our way to my brother's house.

Driving the Rockies
My brother and his wife Liesa and son Kosma have only recently moved from the Yosemite area to Aspen. It was great to see them and their new world. Aspen's a strange town, a playground for the rich, but also so incredibly beautiful. We caught an afternoon showing at the local cinema of short family-friendly films, which were brilliant. My brother is the Education Director at the Aspen Nature Center and they live on a preserve, so we went on a little tour of the grounds before the storm arrived.

My nephew is obsessed with fishing
That evening, we holed up, ate a terrific home-cooked meal, and played a marathon game of Monopoly.

Marathon Monopoly game
The next day, I was up early, and my nephew flew downstairs to visit with me and we decided to surprise everyone by making pancakes. It was fun to have some stolen time with him. After breakfast, we went on a snowy hike. We just walked out the front door and were near a trail. which is also near many trails as well as downtown.

That night, we played Apples to Apples.

The following day, Arin was back to work and Kosma back to school and Liesa took me to the Aspen Art Museum, which was a manageable space with rotating single-artist shows. The artist was a contemporary New York painter, video, and zine artist, Amy Sillman. I loved her sense of humor and her use of color. We also went to the John Denver gardens, snowed under, but beautiful none the less.

That night, we watched "Frozen," which we all thoroughly enjoyed, and then headed out early the next day. We drove through Utah and Nevada, finding a pit of a pitstop motel in Las Vegas. We reflected on our journey--32 states, nearly 8 months, 15,000 miles. We had so many incredible experiences, got to reunite with wonderful friends and family as well as meet so many interesting and welcoming new friends. We definitely have a new perspective on life since we were able to leave our daily routine. Then, early in the morning, we headed out to California.

California, where gas is a dollar more a gallon than in the rest of the country. California, which is beautiful. California, where we both became baseball fans.

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