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And now we return to Monument Valley, and I am proud to share with you this image of my companion, my partner in disorganized crime, my travelling home if times get unspeakably hard, in short, my truck. I love my truck, and Truck loves road trips, particularly when they involve some form of off-roading, which our sojourn in Monument Valley did. Valley Drive, the road that runs down through the monuments, is red dust and bumps, and Truck was in her element. (Truck can switch between genders depending on the circumstances. Sometimes Truck feels female and sometimes Truck feels male. A transgender Truck. And in response to some ridiculous sentiments I have heard over the years, not all women who drive trucks are gay.)

This is my fifth Toyota pickup (shameless plug). Toyota pickups are the only vehicles I have ever bought when I was the only one making the purchasing decision. My first one was baby blue and a stick shift (which I didn’t know how to drive.) They’ve saved ex-Pat’s life twice (as he destroyed them). And my last truck is now Kelsea’s. She loves it so much that she even wrote one of her college essays about it. We’ve traveled through blizzards, fires (stupid me), and floods together. When you find something in life that’s that dependable and loveable, be it a person, an animal, or a truck, stick with it.

Monument Valley, Arizona.

Quote of the day: “I love the smell of Waffle House; it’s the smell of freedom, being on the open road and knowing that ninety percent of the people eating around you are also on that road. Truck driver’s, road-trippers, hangovers–those who don’t live that monotonous life of society slavery.” — J.A. Redmerski…….. (but I call it Casa de Waffle)

Daily gratitudes:
Dogs with their heads out the car window
The conjunction of a planet and the moon this morning
When the antique store is open when I’m walking home
Watching little kids play soccer

Our view from The View Hotel in Monument Valley afforded us the opportunity to see the weather pass like waves across the monuments. This dust shower swept across Merrick Butte, followed by rain, rainbows, sunshine, sunset, and stars. It was a magical place, and like the sea, a vista that was truly ever-changing. We could have sat on our balcony for hours just watching the light and clouds and wind renew our view every moment. But the lure of the Valley itself was irresistible, and we had to take to the road that travelled through the monuments, getting up close and personal. We would go back in a heartbeat.

Monument Valley, Arizona.

Quote of the day: “It has been well said that an author who expects results from a first novel is in a position similar to that of a man who drops a rose petal down the Grand Canyon of Arizona and listens for the echo.” —  P.G. Wodehouse

Daily gratitudes:
A new doctor
Skyping with Kelsea
Snuggly cat
Plans for NaNoWriMo
Ice water

Not here, for we have clear weather here, and have been most fortunate for this time of year.

In Great Exuma, a place that MKL and I have come to love very much. The place that apparently Hurricane Joaquin loves very much as well, so much that he has decided to linger over the Out Islands, and seems to hate to leave. Bright waters and beautiful days will return though, and Georgetown and Hoopers Bay will dry out. That is the way of islands and islands along with them. Those who live by and love the sea know that, as I saw in tattoo form on a woman’s arm in a little café in RoadTown, Tortola, “the sea always wins’, but its people never give up. They love it too much.

Great Exuma, Out Islands, Bahamas.

Quote of the day: “she lived with hurricane eyes and fell in love with the way the waves collapsed against her cheeks.” — Christopher Poindexter

Daily gratitudes:
The couple getting wedding pictures taken in front of the train at Union Station
That Joaquin may be moving out to sea (but you can never tell with hurricanes)
A call from Kelsea this morning
That they caught the Trojan virus on my computer before it did any damage
That having the Tabasco bottle fall from the cabinet above the stove into the oven through the cracked open door (because I was broiling things) and roll into the back of the oven – not once but twice within five minutes – did not result in another kitchen disaster

Because I was having sharp beach cravings today.

Grand Cayman Island.

Quote of the day: “The scattering of light over a long distance creates a sunset. The crashing of ocean waves on a beach is created by tides, which are themselves the result of gravitational forces exerted by the sun and the moon and the rotation of the Earth. Those are causes.The mystery lies in how those things become beautiful.” — Matt Haig

Daily gratitudes:
That my daughter lives by a bay
Huge, character-filled old trees
Feeling summery even though it is autumn
The burly female security guard who passed me on the street today and murmured, “Be safe, Honey”

This is the barn so often included in postcards from Steamboat Springs. I saw it on my first solo trip there, and then couldn’t find it again. I even asked local folk about it, and they all pled ignorance (weird). This last summer I found it again, and Kelsea had the pleasure of exploring its innards, though even she thought there were spots that the floor might collapse beneath her feet in the hayloft. The barn is very old, and the community is building up around it, condos to the left and right, front, and back, which is sad from my point of view. But I’m glad the barn still stands.

The Steamboat Barn
Steamboat Springs, Colorado.

Quote of the day: “Traveling makes you realize what an immeasurably nice place much of America could be if only people possessed the same instinct for preservation as they do in Europe.” — Bill Bryson

Daily gratitudes:
Mr. Man
My sister’s birthday
People like Pam who are devoted to historic preservation

On our Labor Day outing, Kelsea and I accidentally passed this unique statue and made a U-turn for closer inspection. This is the Rocky Flats Memorial called the Cold War Horse. Please note the radiation-protection suit, rubber boots, and gas mask. The dedication is slated for October 18th. For those of you unfamiliar with it, Rocky Flats was a nuclear weapons production facility that closed in the 1990s. During the 1980s after I moved here, I recall seeing protestors outside the gates every time I drove by on Highway 93 (a small, pretty highway between Boulder and Golden that is so dangerous that there were bumper stickers saying “Pray for me, I drive 93”). There was also much wrongdoing in the facility; it violated numerous environmental laws and the Department of Energy said that the plant’s ground water was “the single greatest environmental hazard at any of its nuclear facilities.” (according to the Google).

In the last decade, the space became the Rocky Flats Wildlife Refuge – but the clean-up only required that the cleaner-uppers clean-up the first three feet of soil, so I always expected to see glowing, three-headed, 20-foot tall elk with trees for antlers crossing Indiana Street. Now, though, something else has changed, and apparently memories and agreements are short, because they are putting up hundreds of homes on this property that used to be so contaminated. I honestly didn’t think that plutonium contamination resolved itself so quickly, but who am I to say?

But back to the memorial…or perhaps not, because when I tried to take MKL by it last weekend, it had vanished. VANISHED! I am puzzled and plan to make a trip back down the road to see if I just missed it (not likely!) or….?

The Cold War Horse
Near Arvada, Colorado.

Quote of the day: “Now, I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.” — J. Robert Oppenheimer

Daily gratitudes:
The owner of The Happy Beast
Talking to wonderful strangers on the train
Falling asleep with my head on MKL’s shoulder
Stargazer lilies
My pink cowboy boots

Even though fall is indeed approaching (and along with that comes the “s” word), one of the wonderful things about living in Colorado is this time of year, when the skies are brilliant blue and the aspens are turning their leaves to the sun, shiny a fluttering new pennies.

Central City, Colorado.

Quote of the day: “If your mind and spirit are seduced by images of windswept ridge tops, flutters of aspen leaves caressed by a canyon breeze and the crimson tendrils of dying sun…” — Reid Lance Rostenthal

Daily gratitudes:
Falling asleep early
Kelsea packing (with the help of Joy) – a mixed blessing
When I can put my head on MKL’s shoulder
Fashion Week

A couple of weeks ago, the smoke from the Washington State fires was blanketing the Colorado skies, causing MKL to cough, but giving us lovely sunsets. I watched the sun move down through the sky for almost an hour from the Aquarius Trailhead. I think the fires are still burning, and my prayers go with those battling them, as well as with firefighters in California. My daughter has a one-way ticket to Washington next Saturday, and firefighting is a path she is choosing, which is a bit of a challenge for a mother, but she has angels watching over her – and a very pragmatic attitude about where her chosen paths can lead.


Louisville, Colorado.

Quote of the day: “It is the firefighter’s courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent’s willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.” — Barack Obama

Daily gratitudes:
Never forgetting
Birds on a wire
My doorbell
Books you can’t wait to get back to reading

I love sunflowers. They’re so cheerful – almost as cheerful as daisies (one of my absolute favorites.) I had a couple of volunteers on the Easement of Evil this year, which was really nice, but the city objected to their height. (Scofflaw that I am, I left them anyway….just waiting for the citation to show up in the mail.) These, however, were in the lovely Aquarius Park off of Empire Road, a perfect place to watch a sunset. I caught up with this little spot of sunshine along the trail. As much as I love sunflowers, and as many wonderful memories as I have of them, I do always feel a little candle in my soul for Amanda MacDonald, the University of Colorado-Boulder freshman who died car-surfing down Flagstaff Mountain in 1994. Sunflowers were her favorite flower. Why I remember that – something I read in the newspaper about a young woman I never met – is curious, but poignant. I have told Kelsea about her, as one of those “this is why you don’t do that thing” lessons, so she remembers that about sunflowers as well.

Louisville, Colorado.

Quote of the day: ““Who knows what may lie around the next corner? There may be a window somewhere ahead. It may look out on a field of sunflowers.”  — Joe Hill

Daily gratitudes:
How every time I call Western Washington University, an actual person answers the phone
Promises that everything will be okay – and I believe them
The one tree on the corner of Public Road and Cannon that is always full of birdsong in the afternoon
Creating half a trash bag of recycle as a first step to purging before moving.

Our mother-daughter labor day trip delrailed from its original “Roadside America” theme this year. Kelsea was exhausted and needed some rest. We had an “at home” day, where we did nothing but binge-watch “Playing House” and “Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell.” Then we had a mountain day, where we headed up to Central City, to the Cemetery, which is one of Kelsea’s favorite places, did some four-wheeling, ate battered and fried shoe insole in the form of country-style steak, and today, we had a Labor Day cookout with MKL’s side of the family, and then sat on a bench with a beautiful view and read for an hour in the wind. Not typical of our weekends, but still, our time together was lovely and always the most important part. And here in Colorado, the aspens are turning early, a sign of an early fall.

Central City Cemetery
Central City, Colorado.

Quote of the day: ““Most people say about graveyards: “Oh, it’s just a bunch of dead people. It’s creepy.” But for me, there’s an energy to it that it not creepy, or dark. It has a positive sense to it.” — Tim Burton

Daily gratitudes:
Mother-daughter time
A new set of family
Playing with a 2-year old
Ice water
My truck

October 2015
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