I drove south on I-15 out of Salt Lake City; it was a route that I had taken before. I-15 cuts through Lehi, Orem, Provo (all which used to be discrete towns, but now connected by urban sprawl) and down to Spanish Fork where I split off to Hwy 89 then split off again to Hwy 6 travelling southeast. I got as far as Price, UT, where I felt far enough from the city, yet with another four hours in front of me to Eagle, CO.
I didn’t realize how fatigued I was. Snowbird was three intense days of skiing with PSIA pros on difficult runs. I had spent the previous month and a half skiing cautiously and carefully by myself, except for the mountain tours I had taken. Three days of intense skiing had wiped me out. I stopped for the night around 8:45 pm, too late for many of the restaurant kitchens to be open. I grabbed a few car snacks, munched on chips and called it a night.
The next day I drove for about three hours and hit Fruita, Colorado and decided to stop for a break. Fruita has a fun dinosaur museum where I spent about an hour walking through the exhibits and learning about the dinosaur diamond triangle that encompasses a huge area in Utah and Colorado where fossils abound. At the museum I got a brochure on Dinosaur Hill, just south of town that had a short walking path that I thought might wake me up, so I drove the mile or so to the Hill and began my walk. I met a man coming towards me as I was huffing and puffing up an incline. We stopped and began chatting—he recommended that I drive through Colorado National Monument, which was just another short drive further south, and whose road looped back to the Interstate at Grand Junction. He told me he thought it rivaled Zion National Park. I had to do it.
At the entrance of the national monument, I asked if my Senior Eagle Parks pass would work—the gatekeeper said, “Yes” and so I popped the glove box open, expecting to find the pass. To no avail. That darn pass was nowhere to be found. I kept bumbling for it, and finally the gatekeeper said, “Don’t worry about it. I’ll just let you through. But you should find it, it’s worth quite a lot.” What a nice guy, and what a senior moment I felt I was having.
The Colorado National Monument is a hidden gem. I haven’t been to all the desert southwest parks, but I have been to Canyons, Arches, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, and a few I don’t remember or can’t recall—and the Colorado National Monument exudes the same kind of awesomeness that the big names do. And what’s even better is that this monument is just off I-70, and an easy loop between Fruita and Grand Junction. It’s got the soaring red rock cliffs, the deep valleys, the winding roads, the easy walking paths and trails for the more stout of heart. It added maybe an hour or more, but it was well worth it. And on one of the vista stops I checked a pocket in a back door and found my Senior Eagle Park Pass! I wasn’t totally losing it, senior or not.
I pulled into Eagle, Colorado around four in the afternoon and let myself into Fred and Ellen’s home. They were spending a month in Ireland where Fred was “born again Irish” after a plane crash landed him in a hospital in Ireland. He’s written a book about it. They were planning on spending St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland. I was at their house the second week of March, where they opened their home to me without them. Ellen is my sister-in-law Sheri’s aunt, and she is a friend from my early days living in Denver. I lived in Denver forty years ago–I was in my 20s then, and Ellen and Fred’s girls were pre-teens. Now Andrea and Tanya are like my own nieces, grown women with kids of their own.
Andrea lives in Carbondale and she and I planned on skiing Aspen on Sunday which was International Women’s Day. Tanya and I were due to ski at Vail on Saturday. Friday came and I was too pooped to play—I called both girls and told them I had to bow out. It’s truly a sign of age when a person would rather rest than play, but that’s what I did. Instead, the two sisters, two of their girls and I all got together, drove south of Carbondale and had a fun, relaxing pizza party at Redstone Propaganda Pie. Bella, Tanya’s daughter is an ice hockey goalie who spent last year at a boarding school playing hockey, and is planning on going to college out east to play hockey. Sachari is Andrea’s daughter, and she spent last year living in India. It was a fun and lively discussion with the moms and the girls about their futures, their past experiences and the incredible growth that happens when a kid lives away from home for a year.
Tanya drove us down to Redstone, so all I had to do was sit shotgun. But I was still tired when I got back to Fred and Ellen’s, so I stayed the course and didn’t ski. I wrote, read, watched Netflix. I didn’t venture out. By Sunday I was well rested and ready for the next leg of the trip. Steamboat Springs.