I was exhausted after climbing Monday. Altitude (we discussed) and being Hobbes-lagged was definitely catching up to me. I was planning on just driving as far as I could without falling asleep and turning in for the night before hitting Moab, Utah. I couldn't wait for Arches National Park and hiking and all of that, but more than that, I couldn't wait for a pillow and a bed.
I don't know what my aversion to sleep is these days, but it never seems to settle in on my corner. Part of it might be my competitive nature. And trust me, I don't need another person there to be competitive. I fight myself more than anyone in this world! My best buddy, Angela can certainly attest to the nature of this game. She's the same way of course, though if she reads this she'll probably try to deny it. She also likes to lie to herself, same as me :) So, anyways, I'm competing with myself the same way I do when I run (yuck running is awful). Guilt (I get that from my lovely Irish Catholic family :) and the "C'mon don't be a punk" methodology works incredibly well. Basically when I'm driving I constantly think about the pioneers and Laura Ingalls Wilder books (if they can do it with wagons and horses, don't complain about driving a car with GPS!) and in my head (because talking to yourself out loud is a mark of the insane) I challenge my stamina and my right to be on the road if I can't even drive through one more tank of gas if they can expand the west travelling up hill, both ways, in the snow BAREFOOT!
Made it across Colorado and stopped at Grand Junction. Fun Fact for the day: Grand Junction is the largest city in Western Colorado. Population is around 59,000. Reading, PA (where I started this journey) has a population of 88,000. We're also ranked 5th in the state. I love the West. They're so cute and small and they know it. All they have to do is look around and there is a mountain reminding them. I think that's why the ego's are smaller here as well. Us Easterners look around and just see us. A big huge sea of ourselves. That's why New Yorkers are so irritatingly egocentric. I've seen a lot of the nature in our area, our "mountains," our rivers, all of those little natural and wonderful intricacies. They're wonderful, but they do NOT make you feel small like these Rockies do.
Cheap motel (I actually like cheap motels better than those fancy hotels that take your car away from you and promise Santa Clause, but never fulfill the promise.) and the PLAN was to pop over to the Applebees because it was close and I was exhausted. I'll go grab a beer and a sandwich and go to bed. I just needed sleep...
...Seriously, why do I lie to myself.
I recently told someone that I can't be sure if I've ever just had one beer my whole life. The people at Trooper Thorns can probably attest to this as well.
No worries Mamma, I did not get rip roaring drunk. I did one better. I hung out with 5-6 very interesting people and we giggled and swapped stories about the road. It was way better than getting drunk! I stayed there until about midnight. Oh sleep, I missed you, but I'll spend time with you later. As I've said before, you can sleep when you're dead!
My favorite part of travelling is meeting people. They're the greatest bit of history in the world. They're like little walking anthologies of Earth. Picking up bits and pieces of this spinning mass in the Universe as they roll along their paths.
Chatted with the two ladies tending bar. And my theory of how I get bartenders to tell me their life stories is still a mystery. It's not a weird version of hitting on me or vice versus obviously. But I did get to see a picture of her lovely baby, "her world." I learned about her haircut, her ex, her current beau. I even helped her count her tips at one point. I don't know how I do it, but it gets done almost every bar I've stopped in. She wasn't the only one I hung out with either. There was a South African who looked like he could be a base player for a band like Rage Against the Machine, there was a trucker from Austin, Texas. A young kid originally from Minnesota, who moved to Denver, then to Grand Junction and is planning to head back to Denver.
My people! They were all wonderful and ALL TRAVELLERS. Even the bartender had been hopping around Colorado here and there. My South African friend, who says his home is in Los Angeles even though he was born elsewhere, was actually driving his motorcycle across the country in the other direction. Amazing, we met in the middle! We chatted about the music we were listening to, which showed me exactly how little you know of someone just by looking at them. This guy had some solid gauges going on in his ears and a magnificent mohawk (a real one) and without being mean he looked like what Sloth from Goonies would have looked like if his face wasn't rearranged...
...guess what music he was listening to...
Wasn't my first pick either. He did, of course, mention a little bit of everything. But there is only one other person below the age of 70 that I know of personally that has openly admitted to listening to this amazing man and that is myself. It's probably because I don't get into Pavarotti discussions often, but its just not a musician that people throw out there when asked what kind of music they like.
That's what is so great about bars. Everyone is friendly and loosened up and ready to talk. And I love talking.
The Trucker and I bonded over our hatred of FFK (Flat Freakin' Kansas) and their cops. He told me that everyone I know that said not to go to Texas was an idiot, that Austin is just as amazing as Denver and that I should visit the state at the least.
At one point everyone took out their phones, including the old man and his son behind us and showed each other the latest buck they'd killed. The Trucker showed me a wild pig that was the size of Hobbes they took down and said it was trash, it was too big to eat. (I think the Ethiopians might think differently, but tomato, tamato)
For two hours I thought I was at Thanksgiving dinner surrounded by my travelling family. It was great! Everyone and I mean EVERYONE asked me how my hot wings were and whether I might switch to whiskey instead of beer. It's like my Grandmom was there, except this tea was of the alcoholic variety.
And that was just Grand Junction. Every where I stop, there's a new family to break bread (or beer) with! In Colorado, I met the most interesting man in the world. He works for NASA and pops in to cities here and there and everywhere. He's actually in LA soon and we still keep in contact. He was the reason I didn't get sleep in Denver. You just can't say no when you are properly asked to dance to a band playing the Blues! We danced away the night and then I was serenaded by an ex mariachi band member on the way back to my hotel (Sorry mom, I talked to a homeless guy and I probably shouldn't have done it, but I was trying to prove him wrong on something). He kept calling me MIHIJA MIHIJA! He'd say "I love you! but you are too young and beautiful for me!" (A master at reverse psychology!) Now just read it out loud again in a Mexican accent and then sing a Mariachi song afterward. That's how I ended my night. The magic of The Stranger is an amazing thing. I think I'm falling in love with the world!
Those are just a few of the people I've met, and whether I know their names or not, I'll never forget them. And I look forward to meeting more people, because as they say, the more the merrier! I've already met 6 wonderful San Fran men on top of a mountain in Yosemite, a Californian who is actually an Irishman and "herself" as he calls his woman friend. I can't wait to meet so many more while I'm here in California, and on the way home.
Sleep is so overrated, and people are amazing.
Loving the spirit of the travelers!