On the road
If I seem especially relaxed, tan and
well-rested this week, it is because I come to you fresh off the
heels of a 10-day vacation. I know, it may seem like gloating, but
it was the first official have-the-neighbors-water-the-plants and
lock-the-house-up-tight trip I've taken in eons, so I feel I'm
Besides, it's not like
it was the spa-and-pamper variety of trip. This was econo-trip all
the way. Like all good Americans on a budget, I loaded my camping
gear, toys and loved ones into the family yuppie mobile and hit the
open road to check out our nation's great wonders. Typically, this
type of trip tends to be more work than those that involve lounging
in a mud bath with cucumbers on the eyes. But some would argue that
riding in a crammed vehicle watching the miles tick by, eating bad
food, listening to staticky AM talk radio and wearing wrinkled,
dirty clothes day after day can have just as much of a restorative
effect on one's psyche.
"The whole point of a
vacation is to make you appreciate where you live even more when
you get back," a friend reminded me as I began to question the
sanity of carting a small, restrained child half-way across the
And the trip couldn't
have come a moment too soon. Not only had downtown outings started
to feel like spawning season, but I also had begun fearing for my
life. Every step out into the crosswalk was like a giant leap into
the unknown. The final straw came when I narrowly escaped becoming
a hood ornament for a black Ford Excursion with out-of-state
plates. Perhaps my blood-curdling scream was an overreaction, but
when you realize that your last moment on Earth is going to come at
the expense of a huge chrome grill, it's easy to get hysterical.
From this point on, it was obvious a trip away from Durango was
just what I needed to regain perspective.
Of course, I realize I'm
one of the lucky ones. For most Durangoans, summer is gravy time;
time to bust your hump, put in the doubles and add a nice layer of
fat to the bank account. So, for those unable to get away for that
little get away, below are some of the highlights guaranteed to put
a new shine on that daily grind:
Day 1: Can't help but get over the nagging
feeling that I've forgotten something
Stop at gas station to
feed yup-mobile in Monticello, Utah, home of the world's largest
Big Gulp, which requires both hands and a bladder of steel. Truly
Day 2: Pull into Forest Service campground
somewhere in Utah at ungodly hour. Immediately notice overwhelming
stench of burning yak dung. Consider leaving to find another, less
odoriferous campground when it is discovered smell is emanating
from travelin' tyke's britches. Ro sham bo. Lose.
Wake up to breakfast in
Logan, Utah, home of koffee kreamer and the
raspberry-white-chocolate bran muffin. Strangely
Arrive at first
destination: Jackson, Wyo. Find our accommodations have been
upgraded from backyard family tent to Mallard camper suite,
complete with mini fridge and toilet. Score.
Begin first day of
several days'-long geographically-imposed Atkins diet.
Day 3: Continue Atkins diet with breakfast at
a place called "Bubba's," aptly named for one's increased waistline
upon leaving. Discover the beauty of chicken-fried
Burn off Bubba's by
spending rest of day lounging by pool (after nearly passing out
trying to blow it up.) Club Med eat your heart out.
Day 4: Decide to make use of the kayaks we
lugged 600 miles. Haul gear, boats and world's heaviest toddler
down steep trail to Snake River only to find highly touted surf
wave is washed (knew we shoulda checked with the local shop first).
Try to surf it anyway and get shown up by old guys on surf boards.
Leave in disgrace.
Day 5: Decide to go into town for lunch.
Must've taken a wrong turn and found ourselves in some sort of Wild
West theme park. Become extremely disoriented somewhere near a
giant antler arch and make mad retreat back to the safety of the
Day 6: Leave for second destination: Bozeman,
Mont. Decide to take scenic route through Yellowstone National Park
despite urgings from friends not to do so. Assume position for next
several hours behind diesel pickup pulling horse trailer going 45
Come across what looks
like a horrible accident as people slam on the brakes and run from
their vehicles only to realize we are experiencing the first of
what is to be many "wildlife moments" in this case, the rare and
elusive black bear.
Do drive-by of old
Exit park via West
Yellowstone, Mont., snowmobile capital of the world and land of
real beer in convenience stores. Stop for dinner of Red Vines, Chex
Mix and Bud.
Day 7: Legitimately forgot what day it is.
Could have something to do with the two bottles of wine with
dinner, but think it probably is just a sign of a good
Day 8: Still not quite sure what day it is,
but know the end is drawing near. Had first real wildlife moment
when I came within 10 feet of momma bear and baby bear. Didn't get
close enough to find answer to age-old question of whether bears
defecate in the woods, but can be certain scared mountain bikers
Day 9: Begin journey home, via Dillon, Mont.,
home of highly coveted Patagonia outlet as well as Sandy Kay's
Fritos and cheese dip special (served in Styrofoam
Outlet was a bust but
decide to start adding more Fritos to diet.
Drive through eastern
Idaho, but may as well have been dark side of the moon.
Day 10 : Breathe huge sigh of relief as
topography begins to look more familiar and see an increasing
number of green license plates. Become downright teary heading over
Red Mountain Pass, but mostly because after 10 days, stench in yup
mobile has become unbearable. Pass out somewhere near Purgatory,
possibly from fumes.
Wake up outside my
house, which is still standing much to our relief, and finally
remember what it was I had forgotten: home.