I never really took the chance to finish writing about my trip from Colorado through Oregon back in August. I think partly because I had a hard time leaving it behind, so I couldn’t really put it down to words, since I was mentally still kind of in it. Hell, I still even have the faint remnants of sandal tan on my feet from the rafting trip.
After Julia’s wedding, my dad and I headed west over the Rockies, looking to more or less re-trace a trip we had each made once before, over thirty years apart, my own just over three years ago. We wound up the canyon road through Estes Park, a trip that’s become more and more familiar to me, over the continental divide, and into the long, rolling foothills of the western Rockies. Thought the road was the same, only a sparse few landmarks were familiar from my last trip, but really, the best part of a road trip is seeing something unfamiliar anyway. We didn’t really stop much, but we didn’t have to; in the words of Dan Eldon, “The journey is the destination.” The transition of the landscape, the impressionist painting of unique moments in a broad roadside canvas formed a continuous scenic overlook.
By the time we passed Dinosaur, we decided that our original plan of retracing the road through Flaming Gorge was overly complicated, while Park City, Utah, and crashing at a family friend’s place, seemed much more attractive. My dad knew Park City well, but I’d never been, and as we dropped off the red, mesa-dotted plains of eastern Utah into the valleys surrounding the Wasatch Mountains, I saw for the first time one of the places that makes Utah truly appealing (having only been through the northern edge, to that point I was very non-plussed). We rolled into town, crashed in on our friend and his family with the usual Bedingfield flair of tolerated boisterousness, and slept in borrowed beds.
Somewhere around 4:30AM, I woke up for no real reason, and could not for the life of me get back to sleep. I tossed and turned until I caught the first glimpse of light, let the cat in the window to shut it up, and decided to take this rare opportunity of morning energy to go for a run. Winding through suburban streets, I broke for a trail up a decent-sized hill on the edge of the development, still bare of anything man-made beyond a wire fence at the base. Cresting the saddle, I got to watch the sun come up on the summer slopes of Park City, lighting up the distant mountains like it was the first time, completely alone and everything below me barely stirring. For that moment, I was glad to just be where I was.
After coffee and breakfast to gather us for the long stretch of very monotonous driving ahead, we headed north and passed into Idaho. Since we had a bit of leeway for time before we had to be in Cambridge to meet the rafting company, we detoured at my suggestion to City of Rocks, to revisit my old campsite and let my dad see it for himself. While the town outside the park has grown in small but significant leaps, the park itself is unchanged, and awed me just as much this time as the first. I hope it never changes in my lifetime.
The rest of the trip through Idaho was almost intolerably monotonous, but eventually we found ourselves in the minuscule town of Cambridge, checked into the hotel, and met Rusty, our disarmingly, and as we later found out completely misleadingly, polite and passive river guide for the trip. Afterwords, we searched in vain for a bar that didn’t give us cancer just passing the open doorway, ate dinner at one of the two diners in town, bought our fishing licenses and a sixer of Descutes beer, and settled in to watch the Chinese and US Olympic gymnastics teams do battle. We were going to spend the next four days on the river removed from the world, we figured we should get some comforts in while we could.
Man, we had no idea.