I've started to settle in to life in Connecticut. It's humid here. I knew that before I moved--after all, I was raised here before I took off for New York. But almost two years in the high desert makes a girl forget. The upside? My skin feels so soft. The downside? Um, breathe under water much? Ok, so it's not that bad, but life in a veritable rain forest is tres different from life in New Mexico.
Oh, you'd like to know what I saw on the drive home? Well, sure, I'll be glad to share with you. We headed out around noon, after paying up at the UPS Store (which I adore. If you don't have a ton of stuff to move, this is the way to go. And if you need to ship, and you're in the North Valley, go visit Pat. She's a doll. She kept me from panicking. And so far, all the boxes that I've unpacked have arrived unscathed) and one last breakfast at El Camino Real Restaurant on old 66. Our first stop was Las Vegas, NM, where we walked around, looked at cool old buildings, and visited the Plaza Hotel, home of the Rough Riders' reunion.
It was too early to think about dinner, so Neal took the wheel, and we continued north on I-25. Northern New Mexico is just beautiful, don't you think so? We got past Denver the first night, but before we found a hotel, I saw the Rockies for the first time. I cried. Really. Now, I've seen the Alps a few times, and I've been suitably awed by them, but the sight of these HUGE snow capped mountains right here in the U.S.A. got to me.
My girl Dana (part of my new CNF Writing Club. Yeah, we need a cooler name, but that will come in time) has raved about Fort Collins since I met her two years ago, so we had to stop there, and why not for breakfast? It lived up to the cool factor she's been giving it, and breakfast at the Cafe Bluebird was elegant and delish. Possibly the best cup of coffee on the entire trip. Our delightful breakfast on the porch led to another late start, but we made it into Wyoming before bedtime. In fact, we made it to the nation's first National Monument: Devils Tower, or more fitting to my way of thinking, Bear Lodge. Just as we were about halfway around the loop at the base of the tower, the skies darkened up (and yes, big sky is MIGHTY big out there) and thunder boomers made us pick up our pace a little more. This felt like a truly sacred place to me, and I'm so glad that I was able to see it in person. I was never that intrigued by it from seeing pictures, but now that I've stood below it and looked up, the pictures inspire a lot more awe in me. There were several rock climbers hard at work; I imagine it is super cool to see the top of the tower, but I won't be trying that any time soon!
We spent the night in Sturgis, but not before driving through Deadwood in hopes of finding a cool little town. Um, no. It's a crazy casino town, way too glitzy and crowded for my taste. So back to Sturgis we went. Neal and I both fell in love with the Black Hills. So much so that we've been scheming for a week about how to acquire a nice bit of property there. Ah, pipe dreams!
Ok, so I'm not one of the faces carved into a mountain, but you can't fault a girl for a little make believe, can you? Mount Rushmore was neat, and I enjoyed walking around the park a lot, but I really liked seeing the in-progress Crazy Horse Memorial. Korczak Ziolkowski and his family have dedicated their lives to the memorial, and I thought it was a wonderful story to hear.
After leaving the Memorial, we meandered through the Black Hills a bit more, where we came across four of these fellows. I can only imagine what it must have been like to see herds of buffalo that covered the countryside.
Are you still with me? The travelogue is about done. A stop at (yes, Scout!) Wall Drug was tons of fun. I don't normally eat donuts. It's not that I don't love them, but I once heard that they stay in your system for seven days. I'm sure lots of other foods do, too, but for some reason, that grossed me out enough to give donuts up. Well, I ate a donut at ol' Wall Drug. It was worth every bite. A. Maze. Ing. And, yes, I got my glass of free ice water. It's worth a stop.
The next day we did a whole lot of driving. We stopped for lunch in Iowa. There were two choices at this little gas station stop: a restuarant with lots of cars or a restuarant with no cars. Neal voted for the former. "But, look at the cute paintings of the rooster and cow," I insisted as I voted for the latter. "Maybe the lack of cars is just 'cause lunch is over" (in my defense, it was 2:00). Ok. Neal was right. I ordered the "veg burger" (because, yes, I'm a vegetarian). Wanna know what that meant in this particular place? That the beef patty came with lettuce, pickle, and tomato. Veggies, right?
I had a too-short, but fun visit in Nashville with my sister and her two sweet kids, and of course, a trip to my favorite yarn shop, Threaded Bliss Yarns. Then all along Route 40 until we started heading north. Finally, my new home in the temperate rain forest. With my dogs and my guy. A good ending to a fun trip.
Yarn news tomorrow: Yarns that arrived in the mail, and books purchased at Threaded Bliss. Maybe even an update on Shaddie!