Friday, March 13, 2015

Day 1 of Driving: Granby, CO to Norton, KS

A new job back home in Wisconsin means a new adventure on the road. On Sunday I'll be leaving the truly beautiful state of Colorado (but not for good) and driving almost 24 hours with 1,500 miles (this time solo) back to the cheese state. A must-see stop? Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, that's been on my outdoors bucket list for months and while it may add almost 9 hours of travel onto my total trip, it's very important to me to visit this told-fascinating place. The Saab is packed to the gills, loaded up with five-months worth of stuff, the iPod charged and a route in place. I can't find the words to describe how sad and hard it is to leave Colorado.

 A friend and I were having breakfast yesterday, chatting about what Colorado is for us. My response I told him, "It's hard to explain...but...Colorado for me is just my pure freedom and adventure." It's been easily some of the greatest 5 months of my life, filled with endless fun and some of the best relationships with people I've met in these 24 years of being alive. I couldn't be more... thankful for the opportunity to live in the mountains for a long time, they're a second home.

Pulling out of Granby, CO at around 650am with the GPS set to the Great Sand Dunes National Park, located in the San Luis Valley about five hours south, I set out. Making the trek over the almighty Berthoud Pass one last time, I was out of Grand County, the sun continuing to rise and light up the mountains like fire. Continuing through towns like Frisco,  Leadville, Buena Vista, Salida, Crestone, I was making good timing until I came around a bend in the road and slammed into an unavoidable rock the size of a basketball at about 65mph. Aside from a dent in the front bumper, my tire exploded. Thankfully being a gearhead I was able to swap out the bad tire for the compact spare in just a few minutes. Yoga mat was a big win when it came to kneeling down on gravel. At least changing a tire right by the Arkansas River was a plus.

Driving through small town after town, past old churches, homesteads and acreage after acreage of open range that lead up to towering 14,000ft mountains. It's just unreal how beautiful Colorado is. After stopping at Great Sand Dunes National Park, (blog post on that coming soon), I trudged along at a whopping 55mph on this sad little excuse for a tire to a Walmart in Pueblo, Colorado that agreed to stay open late to throw on a new tire. $101 and sixty-minutes later, I'm back on the road speeding towards the Colorado border. Around 9pm the wagon was approaching the Kansas state line....?....totally thought my map and GPS were taking me through Nebraska.

Oh well. I kept driving away from the last remnants of a sunset painted across the sky, falling on the Rocky Mountains that soon disappeared in the horizon of my rear view. I stopped though, pulled over and got out to look one last time. It almost gave me the chills and made me choke up a bit, as for the first time in like five months, I could no longer see the mountains. That's when it really sunk in that I was leaving Colorado. Desperately seeking a place to crash in this dark maze of rural Kansas, I finished up some leftover Chinese and called it a night at a cheap, comfy, 70s-decor filled motel in Norton, KS.  13+ hours of driving and 1 flat had been a long day.

A few favorite songs played today during the drive:
"Layla" -Eric Clapton
"Feel So Close"-Calvin Harris
"White Trash Beautiful"-Everlast
"Gray Day"-Jesse Colin Young
"Black Sun"-Death Cab For Cutie
"Jesus Don't Want Me for a Sunbeam"-Nirvana
"Best of You"-Foo Fighters
"Deadweight On Velveteen"-Jose Gonzalez

 Here are a few pictures from today's trip (which can be enlarged by clicking them):