Thursday, August 25, 2011

Dear Diary,

Part 1 of potentially only 1.

The awesomeness of an adventure weekend presented itself as we reached ultimate fed-up-ness with the experience of waking up yet again to daunting day-to-day-life pressures.

And we have a great life, I am to remind you I am pleased I am not part of a 'normal' family routine.

It all started with the Family Reunion road trip--which leads to another more intriguing story, for another day--where we packed and slam-bam hit Kentucy in fewer than 36 hours after leaving home.

Tip #1: Avoid the Interstates
Tip #2: Look at the map of the campgrounds you might hit BEFORE you leave.

Driving blindly ahead at two am seeking a campsite the Garmin assured you you passed a half hour ago and a lonley sign once suggested you were on the right path is not ideal for sleepy travellers.

Tip #4: Make sure you have paper maps in addition to your GPS. Who knows if you're going to short out your charging outlet?

So the trip to Kentucky was quick, wet, and less than refressing. The perfect length of time for a road trip averages three week, within a few days on either side.

For example: Our three week tour through Wyoming, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, the UP of Michigan, the LP of Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, and aKansas. Or perhaps the three weeks through New Mexico to the Hill Counttry of Texas with a one week layover and then on to the Gulf of Mexico, along the Mexican border, Arizona Rockies, and Utah. Or even the two week quickie through Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio to Michigan and back.

A road trip is about windmills, campsites or hotels with windowseats, merry-go-rounds, slides and swings; rivers, lakes and beaches. A road trip is about dirt roads, the local pizzeria, brew pub, or greasy spoon. A road trip is about lookingin museums the size of my backyard and riding restored carosels. It's about inside jokes, pop songs on the sirus radio, and overused words. A road trip ais about making the country feel huge again.

Tip #4: Bring a Jacket.

So upon arriving home, we laid out our musty, smelly tents to dry, gave up and washed them over the next week, along with the sleeping bags that absorbed some of the August air from the midwest.

We had lives to reinhabit, work to employ us, and the same dirty dishes we'd left behind.

We were just getting to the part where we communicated well in a small space when the trip ended.

Tip #5: Use a road trip to strengthen your relationship. Nothing says I have time for you like being strapped in a metal egg for hours with someone.

We find ourselves talling about long-harbored issues with the casualness of how lovely the sunset is. Of course, there's a break-in period where we're both holding back and being abrasive, but the electricty finds the pat of least resistance and we open up.

Tip #6: Children are an exception to the fifth tip. They will argue more at the peak of the trip and again towards the end when they know they'll be home soon.

We clashed with each other and the kids for the week we were home, then we packed the trunk with horseshoes, frisbees, a skateboard and pads, fishing gear, tents, bags, charcoal, swimming suits and towels, and water and took off.

We had no idea where we were going.

Tip #7: Use recreational maps, not just road maps. Dirt roads do not mean 4x4 only.

On Friday, we ventured out timidly, skateboarding in Palisade, drinking a beer and eating popcorn at the brewery, and then heading home.

On Saturday, we were gone. We dropped off keys, said hi to a sister back from out of town, and took the highway down to Crawford, leaving Land's End and the Mesa for a different day.

We said hi to grandparents and looked at gardens growing, showed off our new car, and talked about the weather.

We drove to Paonia from the south and drank the best cherry soda ever made while playing chess at the brewery. We consulted a map and chose a dirt road to Crested Butte. We'd never been to Crested Butte.

Trains leaned in on the turns in the road-coal biled high. Huge miming operations glittered up the mountainsides in the sunset, hidden in the trees, extracting the black gold.

Tip #8: If searching for Craft Breweries, pick up the most recent copy of Rocky Mountain Brewing News, or the local equivalent, type in the address in the Garmin and go.

We got to the pub in Crested Butte, who sponsors the local hockey team, has a large deck for the chilly night air, and one girl running the whole kitchen.

Avacados must be in season. My daughter and husband split a bowl of deep-fried avacado slices, a salad topped with avacado, and an avacado, cheese, bacon, and tomato sandwich.

We drove up toward on of the little flags on the recreeational map indicating a campground. Garmin didn't believe us. Gothic, it said, was a town. The map didn't agree. We were determined to find the truth.

The road turned to dirt again and that--that fluffy-looking creature was a porcupine. Those were deer, and that was another porcupine. That might have been an owl.

Garmin won--Gothic is a teeny town founded for research in 1929. They had barrels--traffic barrels--orange and white striped--in the middle of the road, with 15 emblazoned on the speed limit signs perched on top.

Gunnison National Forest greeted us on the other side of the town, and I laughed at myself for using the car as an oversized flashlight to read the signs posted on the side of the road. I turned into the sign: Parking, no camping. The next: Parking, no camping, Later, after several more Parking, no camping signs, a larger one: Day Use Only: Flash Floods blah blah blah Please don't camp here Blah blah You'll regret it. Fine then.

Finally, the map wins--Goth the campground announces Bear Country and I pick up a pay envelope.

We tour the campground--#1 has a camping motorcyclist. Five feet later, #2 has a large truck. Another five feet and #3 has a little Subaru. Take a turn and immediately ahead is a 4-runner in #4, and to the left, #5 with nothing but a fire pit.

I pitch camp as the family sleeps. I pitch camp crooked, apparently.

Tip #9: No matter how tired you are, don't skimp on setting up camp properly. A bad night's sleep fror all can be a direct result of the pressure to get under the covers.

Remember the part about bringing a jacket? We camped at 9500 feet. It was cold. We were crooked and people and pets all slid to one end of the tent. The boy child had nightmares.

At some point in the darkness, both the husband and I are awake.
"This is camping," he said. "This is peaceful. Hear all that racket from Kentucky that's missing up here?" He's right, the silence at altitude is comforting. The constant white noise of insects punctuated with the staccato of various other night critters was disconcerting down near sea-level.