Well hello hello! Look who it is. Re-emerging from the abyss here I am to recount my adventures.
When last we spoke I was headed to Telluride. OMG! If you ever take the drive from Santa Fe to Telly on Route 84, can I just tell you that it was by far one of the most scenically beautiful and yet stressful drives I’ve ever made. A windy road climbing up and up and up and around and around and around. My 4-cylinder car was more often in 3rd gear. But oh it was amazing! Unfortunately I encountered a few GPS errors and got to Telly later than I planned. I drove into a campsite about 10 miles outside of the resort and was told by Bruce, the manager of the campground, that he had just given away his last campsite an hour ago. GREAT! Ugh! I was not happy because the GPS error cost me nearly 2 hours. But he said, he just couldn’t turn a woman away and had a weakness for blondes, so he let me set my little tent up on his plot…and wouldn’t even accept any money. That was music to my ears. After setting up camp and sharing a glass of wine with him and another friend I decided to head into Telly and check out the place I’ve been wanting to see for ages. Shame I had to check it out in the dark. 😦 This old mining town turned ski resort is a small one-street town but it offers FREE gondola rides over the town to the resort and back again. For sure I would have preferred to do it at 10 AM instead of PM but whatev. The other thing that also stood out to me was that for the first time on this trip I was COLD! Which was a nice change of pace in July. There was another female camper next to me. Since turning 62 she had traded in her corporate life for life on the road in her car. “Where will you head next?” I asked. ‘Oh I just go with the wind and the weather’ she replied. I loved it.
The next morning I was up early to prepare to pick up my special travel guest in Grand Junction. Unfortunately I was ou in the middle of the mountains with no reception and didn’t get the message until I was ten mins away from the airport that he had missed his flight…and now I had to pick him up in Denver…at 6pm, not 11am. This was not music to my ears! Funny how after 3 months of separation an extra 6 hours can feel like an eternity. Especially when you have to drive to the other side of the state, and then back where you came from. So I did finally pick him up at Denver Airport, which is 30 mins outside of Denver (on the other side). The reunion was sweet but I had no idea what was in store for me.
It’s overwhelming enough to start a new relationship long distance. It’s even more overwhelming to have a reunion while being surrounded by a whole crew of his guy friends. And I don’t mean just guy friends, I mean fishing guide friends. There was a big party that night, a sort of fishing guides reunion and it was full on. The next day yours truly went fly fishing down the Colorado River with my man and 6 of his fishing buddies. Oh yeah! It was a full-on testosterone fling…with me…who has never gone fly-fishing. Yeah it was indeed overwhelming! That being said, all of the guys were super nice and went out of their way to make me feel comfortable and give me fishing tips. The river was flowing full and it was a perfect day. Interestingly enough, I was the first one to hook a fish, though he was small and I lost him, I still hooked one 🙂 It was a good first day and good to see him so happy being reunited with his best friends in his favorite place on earth.
The next morning we headed off for Flaming Gorge Utah. It was a beautiful drive. Thru Colorado, Utah, into Wyoming, out of Wyoming and back into Utah. We ended up camping in a place so far out of the way and removed from everything that I would have never even known it was a campsite. $5 a night for tenting, you can’t beat it. The man and I actually quickly fell into a camping routine that we used again and again and worked. As soon as we would arrive at a campsite he would start building the fire and I would start building the tent. This spot in particular was amazing because we were the only ones out there….us and a few hundred mosquitoes! Luckily the fire kept them away while we ate dinner. Mosie’s weren’t the only wildlife out there. We passed hundreds of Pronghorns out there. I still can’t figure out if there are an elk, an antelope or what…but they are stunning. I still can’t figure out why I didn’t pull my camera out when there were 3 within 10 feet of us, I think I was just really in the moment since we almost hit one of them.
As much as it was a great camping experience being out in the absolute middle of nowhere, it was also hardcore camping…for those same reasons. I didn’t get the best night’s sleep and there were no amenities to freshen up the next morning. We drove out and headed west thru Utah.
There are parts of Utah that are absolutely beautiful, and then there are other parts that….well are just worth driving thru. This day ended up being alot of driving. But the most interesting part of the drive was going thru the Bonnerville Salt Flats. Wow!!! So weird and so interesting! We stopped off and had a look. It’s surreal. Very quiet but very windy.
We pushed thru the salts of Utah and finally arrived in Elko, Nevada. Boy oh boy! What a strange and funny town! Elko was pretty much put on the map as a mining town. Gold mostly. But I also heard one of the waitresses talking about the pipeline bringing in a lot of work as well. For sure a trip to Elko was like a step back in time. It is most definitely an old Western style town. After a long day in the car we decided to search out a little bar for a beer and a shot and we found exactly that. An old wooden bar with an old, surly female bar-tender. It matched the rows of neon-signed motels on the (only) strip. The next morning we searched out a good local spot for breakfast….Oh yeah, it was the diner…inside of the Casino. There’s nothing like walking into cigarette smoke with fat asses in lycra playing slot machines. It really was one of the weirdest breakfast experiences I’ve ever had. I mean honestly, the ugly stick just set up camp in that town and left a permanent mark!
After a sub-par breakfast (how can you screw up eggs?) we decided it was time to get the hell out of dodge and hit the road. The man had done some research on Black Opal Mines up in Northwestern Nevada so we were making our way in that direction. We took Route 80 over to Winnemucca and then the real adventure began. From major interstates, to paved county roads and eventually to a dirt road. We were once again in the middle of nowhere and not completely sure of where we were going. But the company was good and we had road trip goodies to snack on along the way. After several hours of driving and seeing nothing we arrived at a junction in the middle of nothing. And like an oasis, at this junction there was a building. We weren’t sure what we would find, but I was desperate for a pee break. When we walked in we truly did find an oasis! The diviest of dive bars that you could find in the west. You could practically expect to see Sam Elliot walk through the door. An old oak bar with big stools and elk heads adorning the walls. Yeah, not my favorite thing to see but I am traveling with a hunter, so it’s not like I can ignore them. This oasis dive bar had the coldest beer I’ve ever had, and a surprise…Strawberry Blonde Ale. It was the perfectly refreshing beverage after a long, hot drive. It’s so strange but that little dive bar in the middle of nowhere is one of my favorite memories of this trip. Too bad I didn’t take a photo. 😦
The lady behind the bar had given us directions to the opal mines and we made our way over there. Too bad we didn’t do more research….all the mines close at 4:00 pm, and it was 4:20! We hopped on one of the dryest, roughest dirt road I have ever been on in the states. It took us over an hour to go 35 miles and the car was completely covered in dust. When we finally crossed into California it was cause for celebration! 🙂 We ended up camping just outside of Burney. While the company was great as usual, and the dinner he cooked for me superb, the campgrounds itself was yuppy-ville! Ugh! You know, those campgrounds where you’re right on top of each other. I mean, it was beautiful, but way to cramped. And seeing as how we had gotten used to being out in wide open spaces, it was a tough adjustment. In fact we almost got kicked out for being too loud…at 10 pm. (cue multiple flashlights being pointed in our direction).
The next morning we got up as soon as possible and made our way down the 5 and into Sausalito. This is where the next phase of the trip began…life on the houseboat at Yellow Ferry Dock. It felt good to have a place to settle into for a bit after not having more than 2 nights in a row at the same place for the last 3.5 weeks. It felt good. That was 2 weeks ago and it’s been a special time of learning and growing.
In that time we also had another little road trip that involved a drive up to Southern Oregon where I met the parents. They live on a beautiful 4 acre spread just outside of Ashland. Asparagus, lavender, berry patches you can eat off. It was just beautiful. Something was pointed out to me in the back yard. “What the hell is that?” I asked. Oh it’s their pet Llama that hangs out in the pasture with the cows. The parents were very nice and we enjoyed a relaxed dinner out on the back deck while we watched a stunning sunset reflection on the mountain. It truly was a piece of paradise. The next day, after a late start we made our way over to the coast, which truly is as beautiful as I’ve heard. The next morning we made our way down the coast back into California into the Redwoods. I could’ve spent the whole day there. Humboldt County, truly one of the most beautiful places I’ve been. We walked mesmerized through the Avenue of the Giants, smelling the smells, hearing the sounds and feeling the energy of the trees.
Like I said, I could’ve stayed there all day, but we were on a time limit. So we made our way down towards Ukiah to go camping near Clear Lake. Chris and I have said that we are ‘futzers’. We truly can futz better than anyone. But because of this we seem to always end up setting up camp right at dark. Oh well, good thing we have our system down. Another excellent campfire dinner, it was a great night.
So here I am, at the end of 3 weeks together. I’ve stayed a week to 3 days longer than I planned. But tomorrow I will get back in the travel groove and make the most of the next 3.5 weeks I have left to explore this country.