Friday, September 21, 2007

The Way Home

I know this is out of order, I'll try to go back and write up the climbing from the last week, but wireless in the campground seemed too good an opportunity to pass up for some stream-of-consciousness blogging.

I left Shelley this morning to start her conference in Denver. After a few round-the-block maneuvers (I hate driving in big cities!) I spent the morning at the zoo. As with any zoo it was a mixture of awe and fascination and pity. Some animals I'm sure never notice the difference between zoo life and a life in the wild. But others are not so lucky. What must it be like for the snow leopards confined to a cage no bugger than a hotel room? Pacing, pacing, pacing, nowhere to go. The Denver Zoo seems to be trying. They are building bigger, more natural exhibits and have plans for more. My love-hate relationship with zoos continues. (As usual I bough a family membership to help support them.) The zoo was filled with mothers and their children (and the occasional father). Children are so fascinated with animals. Why do most people lose that? I haven't!

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I made it out of Denver with no wrong turns and rode the fast stream of traffic out the I-70 - the easiest way to put some distance between me and the city and get back into the mountains. A messy accident in the opposite lanes were a sobering reminder to pay attention.

I planned to stop for coffee after a couple of hours of driving but couldn't find a coffee shop when I needed one! I stopped for gas and pressed on. Finally, Steamboat Springs offered a Starbucks with chairs outside in the gorgeous fall sun. I finished Of Wolves and Men by Gary Lopez. I found the final chapters of the book on the mythology of the wolf a little slow, but the book is definitely worth reading.

There was a state park with a campsite marked on the map at Yampa River, but it turned out to be a rather unattractive open field so I pressed on. Luckily, there was a KOA campground just outside Craig, CO that was a little more attractive. I asked the woman in the office for restaurant recommendations. Her eyes lit up and she asked "do you like steak?". No doubt she did! I didn't have the heart to tell her I was mostly vegetarian. I suspect it would have baffled her. Luckily the other women in the office suggested alternatives, including an Italian place. That piqued my curiosity - Craig hardly seemed big enough (population 9189 as of 2000) for an Italian restaurant. It was called Carelli's and it looked more like a pizza joint than an Italian place. It was decorated with skateboarding, surfing, and snowboarding memorabilia! But they did have wine on the menu and the Pinot Noir wasn't bad. And the spinach lasagna was vegetarian and quite tasty. The Tiramisu was not so great, but I didn't really need dessert in the first place.

I started reading Mexican Days by Tony Cohan. I had an impulse to point the car south. But it also struck me that in many ways traveling through rural America can be just as "foreign" as another country. Every male customer was wearing blue jeans, t-shirt, and ball cap. I find it odd in India or Moslem countries where everyone dresses the same, but I guess we're not so far from that here. I also couldn't help but notice (here and elsewhere) how large a percentage of the people were obese or at least overweight. A sad state of affairs in North America and spreading further.

It's a little bizarre that I can be sitting here at picnic table next to my tent site, with my MacBook and a wireless connection. Soon the internet will be everywhere. In the Apple Store in Boulder I played with the new iPod that has a touch screen similar to the iPhone with wireless built in. Very sleek, slick, and thin. As I wrote this there were fireworks in the distance - some kind of town celebration, I guess.

It was an interesting transition. Last night I was visiting an old friend (David Solsberg) in his neighborhood of multi-million dollar mansions and staying in a fancy downtown Denver hotel. Tonight I'm tenting outside a small town in the countryside. And you know what? I bet I'll sleep better tonight :-)

It's almost 9pm - time to hit the sack and read for a little bit before sleep. It looks like Dinosaur National Monument might make an interesting stop tomorrow morning ...

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