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Home » Stories, True and Otherwise

Big Country Little Car Tour II, Day 18: Rock Springs, WY to Boulder, CO

Submitted by on August 15, 2011 – 12:26 AM5 Comments

Jay told me the day before about a little Siamese that wandered into his room a few times. When I got up and pulled my curtains back, I saw her in a sunbeam in front of Campbell.

I'd slept soundly, but still I felt discombobulated, possibly because I'd screwed up the in-room coffee; it looked like an unshaken Snapple. I was banging my elbows on things and tripping over the same bag four times but not moving it, coming out to the car without the key (or shoes) to look for…that thing? Flight of the Buntlebee, for an hour, trying to pack and remember that I already had my glasses on. Jay's door was closed.

I drove up the hill to check out, parked askew in the driveway, and dropped off my keys. A text came in asking if I wanted coffee, so I drove back down.

"Mine came out like crap. You got a trick to it?"
"Well, Sarah, here's the secret. You put the doodad in there, and you put some water in it, see, and then you turn it on."
"Hey, Jay: fuck off."

Then he totally blew it up and had to coffee up his towels to dam the flood, and I laughed and laughed. Came out better than mine, though; sunshine through the neural clouds. Time to go.

I-80 across Wyoming was strewn with blown-out tire shreds. I'd hit a couple the day before and got startled — they look so much softer, but then jebrank! Today, I slalomed around them.

Going down into Colorado, the traffic picked up a bit, which I resented a little. I'd gotten used to zoning out to Mylo and admiring the purposeful-looking rock piles, or watching a calf figure out how to walk down a hill for the first time. Now I had to watch the road. For one ten-mile stretch of single-lane road work, I had to stare at a naked baby doll strapped to the back of a Harley that had half its hair melted off and KISS makeup on its face. Gross. Clouds, real ones that blocked the sun for more than a moment, knitted overhead.

It got hotter on the Boulder approach, and the Rockies reared up in front of me, impossibly sheer, Devil's Thumb looking more like a middle finger. I'd gone over significant hillage already, but nothing like that. I also hadn't seen a Smart since San Francisco — a red one, riding the brakes down the hill in front of the hotel — but spotted two yellow ones in Niwot, and a big glider eddying around overhead.

I got lost in Aunt B and Uncle T's complex, naturally, but as usual, I forgot all about the heat and the U-turns the minute I got inside and had an iced tea. Aunt B and Ma don't look all that much alike, but they sound just the same, and I could close my eyes for a moment or two and hear my mom, which I think I needed.

Uncle T and I took a little drive to a sculpture garden, and got there right as it closed, but I still got a little narrated tour of part of the city, and we talked about NPR stories. Back at the house, cheese and cards came out, and I actually won a game of Bullshit for the first time probably ever. My cousin H and her family live nearby, so my first cousins once removed turned up first, and A1 and I talked MTV programming while H1 nagged Aunt B to drink more water. Trudy, the dachshund who thinks she's a bear, growled at breezes, and Bronx, the Bernese who knows he's a Bernese, lay on feet and waited for crumbs. We crowded around the table on the deck and feasted, and at some point Cousin H made a deprecating remark about the chaos. I told her to come to Sunday football at Far Thill sometime; this would look like a reading room. Uncle T tried to interest the girls in my 9/11 story, but it's as remote to them as Leon Czolgosz or McCarthy, so when the conversation turned to how horrifying fast food is (teenage outrage + Boulder, go figure) (hee/aw), I was happy to let it.

Peacocks crowed from a neighboring farm. They sounded like cats. "Drink your water, Nana," H1 said, and there was a discussion about someone driving someone the next day, and I remembered that I would have killed for a matched set of grandparents, never mind right in town and as cool as my aunt and uncle. I treasured my grandmother and I used to ask why she couldn't come live with us all the time as a kid, but "I'll run Sarah over to practice" would have had rather a different meaning. The woman drove like a bootlegger, is what I'm trying to say.

I got in bed early with my laptop, meaning to watch a movie, and fell asleep five minutes in.

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