Thursday, March 19, 2009

Road Trip

Good morning from lovely, cool Colorado! Yesterday it was overcast and 57 degrees. I wish every day of my life was overcast and 57 degrees. I was wearing long pants and a shirt with long sleeves, and I was comfortable. I loved it. Today may be sunny and warmer. Bleh.

Steve and Shannon left around 6am this morning to meet an old friend of Steve's who is a professional photographer. She is going to give Shannon some lessons on her 35mm manual SLR camera, and then take her on a photo-shooting expedition.

Meanwhile, I am here at the apartment with the other two girls, not sleeping. Well, they are sleeping, I am not. There are many reasons why I am not sleeping here, and I'm going to share a few of them with you.

First of all, I can't sleep very well away from home. I don't sleep well in motels, hotels, other people's houses, strange beds or couches. Or anywhere except my own bed. I don't know's just the way it is.

Secondly, when we rented Steve an apartment here to live by himself for a few months, we were looking for something cheap. We found something cheap. It's a perfectly nice little one-bedroom place, except for this:

That is my ugly brown van in the parking lot of the complex. And directly across the street? Is a train going by. They go by every couple of hours, all. night. long. There is a crossing just out of the frame to the left, which apparently means that the engineer is contractually obligated to obnoxiously blow the extremely loud horn right in front of the apartment complex. At midnight. And 2am. And 5am. Steve say he has learned to ignore it, but it took a month or so. Somehow, kids can sleep through it. Somehow, I can not.

On the other side of the apartment, out the living room window, we have a construction project going on that has something to do with the sewers. A very loud construction project that seems to have to begin at 6:30am. Between the backing up machinery beeping and the jackhammering and God knows what else...did I mention it was very loud? Hey you, in the yellow're killing me over here. Somehow the kids are able to sleep through this. Somehow, I am not.

This is Luke, the 5 month-old beagle puppy. He's cute, right? He's also quite rambunctious, and likes to jump on you when you're sleeping not sleeping. He also howls like a maniac when Steve leaves the apartment at 6am he doesn't get to go with him.

So, while I'm here not sleeping, I thought I'd share some pictures of the drive from hell trip up here. These are all from day two of driving, beginning at 9am in Kayenta, AZ, and ending at about 10pm in Denver. I know, right? Mapquest said that was a 7 1/2 hour drive. Mapquest doesn't have three kids, a very poor sense of direction, potty stops and a budding amateur photographer.

First, I thought I'd go all Pioneer Woman on you and take a few pictures of my horses. And by my horses, I mean someone else's horses near the side of the highway in BFE, Northern Arizona.

For all you people who think of horses and tumbleweeds when you hear the word "Arizona," or you watch NCIS, these pictures are for you.

See? We have tumbleweeds the size of a small child. They're everywhere.

This is the mandatory picture you have to take in Four Corners. As you can see, Kylie has strategically placed her left hand in New Mexico, her right hand in Arizona, her left foot in Colorado, and her right foot in Utah.

Then you have to eat authentic Navajo fry bread that you watched an authentic Navajo man fry up right in front of you. It's a law, I think. Don't ask questions, just do it. With powdered sugar and cinnamon.

I just remembered that the extra fry bread that Kylie couldn't finish is underneath the front seat of my van between two paper plates in a plastic grocery bag. I'm guessing it's a little stale by now. Hmmm. Maybe if I put in the microwave...

Yes, I took this picture of the snow capped mountains in the distance while I was driving. This is about 40 miles inside the southern border of Colorado, somewhere between Cortez and Durango. It was much prettier in person. My pictures never look as good as the real thing. I don't know why. Maybe I should try some Photoshop.

This is a pull off/scenic view thing along Wolf Creek Pass. I don't understand how the snow stays there, because despite Kylie's ski jacket, it really wasn't very cold.

Danni wanted me to take this for her boyfriend. We will discuss the boyfriend in a later post. For now let's just say, Mom approves.

Shannon had to slide down the hill. To take some pictures. Even though under all that snow somewhere, there is a river that I'm guessing would be pretty easy to step in. I mentioned this. Unsurprisingly, she didn't listen.

We knew there was a river under all that snow, because of this waterfall. It was really pretty. Take this picture, and multiply the prettiness factor by about 10, and that's how it looked.

We got to the other side of Wolf Creek pass, and then the real fun started. I was on Colorado state road 112. There was a point where that road ends, and you get onto highway 285. To do this, you have to turn either left or right. 285 North was a left turn. 285 South was a right turn. Because in my world right equals northeastish, I turned right. We went through Monte Vista, which I was sure was on my route, and kept going. As we passed through Monte Vista, there was this really funny sign about potatoes. If I hadn't been in a hurry, I would have stopped to take a picture of that sign.

When I got to Alamosa, I decided to check my directions. I discovered that Alamosa was not on my route. So between the half hour I was going the wrong way, and the half hour I had to retrace that wrong way to get to the right way, we lost about an hour. To make up for that, we had to get ice cream on our way back through Monte Vista.

Blizzards make everything better.

By this time, we were all a little punchy. When I saw the potato sign again, I had to stop.

"Who's going to stand next to the sign so I can take a picture? Someone has to stand by it!"

Danni finally said she would. I'm surprise I was able to take the picture, we were both laughing so hard.

If you don't find it hilarious beyond all reason that Colorado has a Potato Administrative Committee, then I don't know what to say to you.

After we got going in the right direction, I decided I needed to make up some time. My method of making up time was setting my cruise control on 80mph. Ok, so the speed limit was 65mph.


After about an hour of cruising along at 80mph, a white car passed me going in the other direction. I thought it was moving very slowly.

Danni said, "Mom, that was a cop!"

"No it wasn't...besides, even if it was, he can't tell how fast I was going when he was going in the opposite direction."

I'm sure you can see where this is going.

Sure enough, homeboy flipped around and came after me.

When he turned his lights on, I pulled over to the side of the highway and stopped. The shoulder wasn't very big. I told Danni he would probably be coming over to her window, since if he came to my window, he'd pretty much be standing on the highway.

"Mom, he's coming to your side."

You know the drill, rolled down the window, license, registration, insurance. My insurance card was even the current one. Aren't you impressed?

"Ma'am, you were clocked at 82 in a 65."

Me, feigning surprise, while quickly subtracting 65 from 82 in my head. It's not criminal speeding unless it's like 20 or 25mph over the speed limit, right? That's only 17!


"82 in a 65."

"Oh. Wow. Hmmmm."

Roscoe takes my license and goes back to his car to look me up in the computer of all things criminal. He takes a very long time. Seriously, how long does it take for you to find out I'm not a convicted felon on the run with my three kids? You do realize you are pretty much killing all the time I made up by doing 80, don't you?

Meanwhile, Kylie is chastising me from the backseat.

"Mom! That policeman stopped you because you were going too fast! You were going over the speed limit! You were speeding!

Thank you, Captain Obvious.

FINALLY, he starts to walk back to the van. I silently wish for him to get hit by a passing semi.
He smiles sheepishly and says,

"Well, your information isn't coming back in the computer yet, so I'm just going to let you go without a citation."

"Oh, thank you so much. I really appreciate it. If it makes you feel any better, I've already been berated by the six year-old in the back."

She yells from the back,

"We're going to see my dad in Colorado, and she was going too fast!"

Thanks, baby...remind me never to call you as a witness on my behalf.

He chuckles, and I quickly take back my wish that he gets hit by a semi.

"Well, have a good rest of your trip, and get there safely," he says pointedly. In other words, give it a rest, Speedy Gonzales.

I almost asked him if I could take his picture and if he wanted to be on my blog, but that seemed like it was pushing it.

We get back on the road, and I set the cruise control on about 68mph, because I'm a rebel like that.

After a while, I started thinking. He said my "information" hadn't come back on the computer yet. What information, exactly? The information from your super-duper interstate traffic database? Please. In Arizona, the cities don't even talk to each other. You could have a warrant out for failing to appear in Phoenix, and yet get pulled over in Chandler a couple of times, and nothing will happen. How do I know that? Never mind, I just do. And it wasn't me.

I think he just sat in his car and played a few hands of solitaire on his computer, and then came back and graciously said he wasn't going to cite me in Colorado, when my license, registration and plate are all from Arizona. Clearly I'm just passing through, and I'm not going to be coming back in three weeks to appear in the Middle of Nowhere, Colorado. I think Barney Fife was just playing me, is what I'm saying.

We get back on the road, and it's late afternoon. We still had a long way to go. The last two hours of driving was mainly on mountain roads, one lane in each direction, in the dark. With semi-trucks coming in the other direction, and drop-off cliffs to my right. With sporadic guardrails. By the time we got to Fairplay, which is still a good 80 miles from Denver, I was a nervous, shaking mess. I thought it was just from the driving, but then I found out that Fairplay is at 9000ft. That might have had something to do with it.

Anyway, we finally made it into Denver around 10pm. Danni and I have never been so happy to see city lights in our entire lives. We laughed and giggled and marveled at how pretty the lights of Denver looked as we were coming down out of the mountains. Relief. I think that might have been the longest day of my life.

And the best thing is, I get to do it all over again on Saturday.


onthegomom said...

"Thank you, Captain Obvious". Cracks me up! I say that all the time to my kids. LMAO

Mary said...

Potato Committee? And they get a great big sign? LOL Maybe you can run for office and get on the potato committee! That'd be a riot!

Kylie has a bright future as a highway patrol officer!

Fannie said...

We moved from Connecticut to Colorado (Littleton) when I was in Jumnior High. I vividly remember the tumbleweeds - EVERYWHERE!

Anonymous said...

Fannie -
That is where I grew up. In Littleton.

Steve ( Shel's lonely husband, and keeper of the puppy )

Dawn in Austin said...

I LOVE road trips! And I especially love how you describe them.

I have learned over the years (and many thousand miles) that the red roads are the best roads. The kids don't agree, but what the heck? They're too young to drive and every one knows the driver makes the rules.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

That is one cute puppy--the kids aren't bad either. I figure it's not speeding unless you're over 90--then again, I'm from California.