Cross Country, Part 2

May 9, 2010

- See all 2 of my articles


Did you miss part 1 yesterday?  Go back and read it here.

Maybe 25 minutes out of my driveway, my car loaded with every piece of summer clothing and possible toiletry I own, along with my critters, I realized I had left the dog’s bowls behind. I had an extra, but it was on the floor in the back of my SUV when I loaded it up.  It wouldn’t have taken THAT much time to go back, but I had already said goodbye to the apartment, and I didn’t want to retrace those steps.  So I stopped at Wal-Mart.  Dog bowls purchased, I was again on my way.

Once on the interstate, I realized that my shiny, happy, new GPS needed to plug into my power outlet, duh, but so did my FM transmitter/iPhone charger.  And no way in harmonica am I gonna make it across the nation without my tunes.  So in Grand Junction (90 minutes after WalMart) I stopped at Best Buy (which I used my new GPS to find, thankyouverymuch) to purchase a power-splitter thingy.

After wandering the BestBuy and looking lost in front of multiple employees for ten minutes (remind me to write to Best Buy about that), I finally asked someone for help, found my needed item, and hit the road. Again.  Trying to find my way back onto the interstate, and without the ability to see much from my rear or passenger-side view mirrors (boxes and cat carriers, you know), I did have the ability to hear.  Which is good, because I might not have otherwise known that a motorcycle police officer was pulling me over.  I was apparently speeding my way out of Grand Junction, and this would not do.  I had missed a speed limit sign. Not that I was looking for it.

After commenting on the weight of one of my kitties (“that is one BIG cat”) and nicely enough cutting down my speed from 15 over to 9 over the limit, I received my ticket and we were on the road again.  Again.

It didn’t take long for me to realize that my phone charger thingy wasn’t having it.  For some reason it just wouldn’t work with the brand new splitter.  My detour through Junction and therefore my speeding ticket?  In vain.

Anyway, I didn’t care, I was off!  To new worlds!  Before long I found myself in the absolutely charming town of Ridgway, where I planned to eat lunch in the True Grit Café which is supposedly also very charming and my step-dad loves John Wayne, so that’d be cool and it’s my adventure and won’t it be fun!  Except I was only a tiny bit hungry.  And the two shopping stops and the speeding ticket had set me back on some time.  And I didn’t really want to leave the animals in the car alone while I ate lunch by myself.  So I didn’t.  I got back in the car after Max’s pit stop and pressed on.  First intended roadside attraction: scratched from the playbill.

I was on to a section of road between Ouray and Durango that is quite beautiful, Red Mountain Pass. It is phenomenally gorgeous.

And steep. And curvy. And without guard rails…

For Part 3, visit my blog tomorrow!

PHOTO: Ouray, Colorado (through my windshield)

Cross Country, Part 1

May 8, 2010

- See all 2 of my articles


Editor’s note: Whitney Henderson joins The Soap Boxers as a special contributor.  Today, Whitney takes on on her cross-country journey.

I planned this cross-country drive like I was Elizabeth Gilbert off to the ashram… It would be transformative, this drive.  It would show me things about myself I hadn’t noticed.  It would allow me to find peace within myself and ground me for the task ahead.  This drive?  It would CHANGE MY LIFE.

For those of you that do not read my blog (hello, all of you), let me first explain “the task ahead.”  I have been living in Colorado for three years.  It is indeed the most beautiful place I have seen and I have to believe among the most beautiful places in all creation.  It is also frakking expensive and I, a lapsed attorney, have a lawyer’s student loans but not her paycheck. So, when I recently decided that I am a writer and writers write and I needed to do that, my well-employed sister invited me to stay with her family in Charlotte, North Carolina for the summer, to focus on the writing.  I’d have to get a job to pay for my car other bills, and, you know, beer.  After my ski season job ended and no summer job in Colorado fell in my lap, I decided that was a dandy idea.  Thus, the reason for the drive.

Back to it, now.  I wanted to take my time. The drive from here to there could be done in 3 days, driving 10 hours each day.  I wanted to lollygag a bit.  See more of western Colorado.  Take my time, see the silly roadside attractions like giant balls of twine.  Stop when I wanted to stop, etc. I decided to swing west to Grand Junction, down to Durango, and over to the Grand Canyon. Then I would come east from there to my hometown of Memphis for a few days, and eventually straight up I-40 to North Carolina. But there were considerations.  Namely, Max, Dobby, and Merlin.  My dog and two cats would be traveling with me, and they aren’t all that into lollygagging.  Or the Grand Canyon.  So, while still on my bucket list, the Canyon was chopped from the list and the trip to Memphis shortened to 3 days instead of 4.  Then there were financials… and an extra night in a hotel suddenly seemed wasteful when I could just get to Memphis a day early and stay with a generous friend for free.

And there it was. The plan settled, three 8-hour-drive days: Day 1 to Santa Fe via Durango. Day 2 to Oklahoma City. Day 3 to Memphis.  The mountains of Colorado would be majestic and amazing. Take my breath away.  Remind me what I loved about my adopted state.  Make me feel small and inconsequential and give me perspective.  New Mexico would be magical, the desert beautiful.  Texas and Oklahoma would be wide open… prairies stretching for miles, nothing to see but road stretching out ahead of me, an invitation to the future.

And so I hit the road.

Read part two here.