Occasionally something happens that makes you stop and realize how lucky you are to be alive, despite the everyday hassles, automated customer service, flaky friends, parking tickets, disappointing restaurants, or whatever your complaint of the day may be.
93 is a two-lane highway between Golden and Boulder that can be one of the most treacherous stretches you'll ever drive in bad weather. On your right as you head south to Golden are the foothills and about seven miles out of town the road winds downward and drops off. It's here that I've seen emergency vehicles slide off into the canyon as they arrive, lights blaring in the dark, to rescue cars that have spun out on ice.
I did the Golden-Boulder commute for three winters, in pre-cell phone days. Although I've always had four-wheel drive and knew well enough to leave my job early to get a head start on the bad roads, I still had two-hour drives home on a stretch that should have taken half an hour. Walking in the door, I'd be crying and shaking, thankful to be home, and wanting comfort from my then-boyfriend and champion bad-weather driver. I say all this because what happened yesterday was not in particularly bad weather. Cold, yes, but dry roads, at least as much as I could tell. But about an eighth of a mile south of Rocky Flats, the plutonium manufacturer long since closed down, on a totally flat part of the highway, I started to spin out at about 60 miles an hour. Black ice. I had no traction, just a feeling of being weightless in the car as it slid left and right. Talking to myself as I braked, but no memory of what I said. In front of me a pickup truck was sliding out too, over into the other lane. And in front of us a green Jeep Cherokee slid left, then right, zigzagged a few times across both lanes, and then flipped over and landed on its driver-side, facing me and the pickup that had come to a stop in front of me, the Cherokee's windshield facing us. As soon as my car came to a stop, I shakily dialed 911. A man got out of the pickup, cell phone to his ear. As he did, two women miraculously climbed out of the Cherokee. The state patrol arrived and flagged us on, as the women stood on the side of the road. We all had been tremendously lucky.
The rest of the way the road was perfectly dry, but I had to fight the urge to turn back. Although I felt like I needed a drink when I got to Golden to have lunch with my ex-boyfriend, the same one I lived with when I made that drive so many winters ago, we went to Wild Oats as planned and I cried as he held me.
Saturday, January 6, 2007
Weather update: I'm glad the snow has finally stopped, though my street is like the Rubicon Jeep trail. Mounds of icy peaks to navigate. Boulder is trying to make their budget by saving on plow blades (that's according to the Cavalry, a.k.a Dave). Olive the crazy Weimaraner is over visiting tonight--isn't she cute?
Friday, January 5, 2007
As I watched a Comcast truck being chained up and pulled out of the foot-deep snowdrifts on my street this morning (that's right, my street) I took a moment to think back fondly of the days of open-toed shoes in the middle of winter. Not here in the blizzardville of North Street, right up against the foothills of north Boulder. Those snowplows must be working overtime, though I didn't see any on my walk down to Vic's, my home away from home. But Broadway, the main drag through town, was clear.
Note to self: Stop obsessing about the weather. I know it's boring. It bores me to write about it. The funny thing about living in a place like Colorado, with such changeable weather, is that you become an expert. "If you don't like what it's doing outside, look again in a minute and it'll be different," is what the locals say. It reminds me of being the weather/police/fire reporter at the Union Democrat in Sonora, CA right out of J school. Every day at like 6 am (we were an afternoon paper) I put in calls to like ten folks out in all parts of the hinterlands of Tuolumne County to get the temps. And these old timers really cared about the weather, even if it was the same every day. I remember my editor greeting me some mornings with "We don't have much for the front page, so we'll need a big weather story." The first time this happened I went into the bathroom and had a nervous breakdown. "You've got to be joking," I said. "It's been seventy degrees every day for like the last two months. Nothing but sun." "Get on the horn and figure it out," he'd say. "I need it soon."
Wow. I'd forgotten about my days as a weather reporter. Anyway, I've had to resurrect my Sorrels, fleece, and pile on the layers like the days of old. Not exactly platform heels and short-sleeves that became my year-round wardrobe while living in the East Bay. Snowdrifts, buried car, and shapeless layers notwithstanding, it is absolutely wonderful to be back. Yesterday I went on a long hike much of the way up Mt. Sanitas with Gary, my crazy ultrarunning partner. It was one of those blue, blue, blue Colorado skies and chinook winds that blew in this storm, and it was all so familiar and comforting and glorious. Not to sound all John Denver about it, but just being back in the clean mountain air with one of my best buds was really exhilarating and makes all the moving hell worth it. Not that the journey was really bad. We actually had fun making our way back East to Colorado. Funny to think that we drove East to get to the mountains. I kept thinking I was going the wrong direction when I saw the 80 East signs. But I feel so much more grounded here already. In the Bay Area, I never knew what direction I was going because I didn't have the mountains to the west.
Some exciting non-weather related announcements: the very fabulous and talented Seattle-based writer Michelle Goodman just had a book published and everyone should run right out and buy a copy. It's called "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide: Practical Career Advice for Women Who Think Outside the Cube." I'm living it in part as I write this and can't praise it enough. It will have you laughing out loud and taking away some incredibly smart and helpful nuggets for striking out on your own and following your bliss (while not becoming destitute). Right on, Michelle! And the book will be featured in next week's New York Magazine. In other publishing news, writer Diane Mapes (also from the cool writing mecca of Seattle) just started a regular column with the Seattle Post-Intelligencer called "The Singles File." Cool. Check out her innaugural column, especially you gals who have a thing for fire guys. I realize I should not be so lame as to not link directly to sites, but am in process of figuring out HTML. Will be a glorious day when I do!
Random observation: Have seen more men wearing Carhartts here than I saw in two years living in the Bay Area. Boulder, you're my kind of town.
Sunday, December 31, 2006
My best girlfriend back in Oakland had told me that there was a Starbucks in the Nugget Casino in Wendover, NV, so it's there we went when we got to town mid-morning, totally jonesing for some decent joe. We couldn't even find a 7-11, so were drinking this awful brew just to function. Yay for sbux. There's one here where we're staying in Rock Springs, WY, which is pretty trippy.
And all day I was just marveling at all the wide-open space, while listening over and over to the Dixie Chicks's Wide Open Spaces (and Kris K., hence the photo where he looks especially fine). And I've got to say, when I first saw the mountains in Nevada, my heart just lifted. Those things have lodged in my heart and have led me back.
Friday, December 29, 2006
Outside is a rip-roaring fourteen degrees, but we're nice and toasty in our lovely room at the Santa Fe Motel in Winnemucca, NV. Of course I saw the "Free Wifi" on the hotel sign and pulled in right away like a lunatic, like I couldn't go one night without internet access. Dave was behind me in the UHaul truck, like "whaaaa?." And then when we were bringing stuff in from my car, I was like "Do you think anyone will steal my shoes?" He was like, "Um, no." And we're so punch drunk from driving that we found this hilarious for some reason, like the shoes were such precious cargo (they are!) that they had to come in the room, too, hence the beautiful still life shot. Like any of the contractors (the motel lot is full of ubiquitous contractor trucks) would want a pair of high heels. Hmmm, maybe.
So it was so cold when we stopped in Truckee that I seriously had to go scampering back into the car. And Dave was hauling ass in the truck, passing everyone to the summit, until finally I had to call him on the cell. "I didn't know they let Uhauls in the Daytona 500," I said. He didn't even realize I was so far behind him; he was so busy Dukes of Hazard-ing it. Said it was way more powerful than his three-quarter ton Ford. But in Sacramento, the traffic (which to me seemed laughingly light after the East Bay) freaked him out.
All I want to say is this man is so deserving of a medal and anything else he wants, like a new dirt bike.
Thursday, December 28, 2006
Headed for a winter storm, something I haven't experienced for two years. So I gave thanks for my four-wheel drive as i bid the palm trees in the Trader Joe's parking lot a sad farewell earlier this evening. But I'm excited. It's the next chapter and here I come. Really anxious about being offline for the next few days, though I have a feeling I'll be able to check email at motels, etc..Dave worried that I'll suffer withdrawal. I can't believe I've turned into one of those obnoxious people who can't deal without email access. But here I am.
Goodbye, California. It's been an intense, often difficult, yet rewarding and always surprising two years. Looking back though, I wouldn't have had it any other way, no matter the challenges.
In the middle of packing up and getting ready to move ourselves and my stuff across Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming and into Colorado, I thought I'd take a moment to remember my sweet wonderful baby Otie, who was always my companion in the car. OK, he wasn't a baby but he was to me. He loved riding shotgun in the car and especially road trips when he'd get to have McDonald's hamburgers. The people in the pickup window would always be sort of freaked with a large weimaraner jumping over me and trying to get out the window because he wanted the fries so bad. I know, that kind of food wasn't good for him,but he loved it. It's strange not having him here, but soon after he died I went back to Colorado and scattered his ashes in all the places he loved, including Eldorado Canyon, the Marshall Mesa trail, and the Whole Foods in Boulder. Dave has a weimaraner we adopted together named Olive, so will be good to see her. But she's not that into me. She loves Dave so much that she stays in his truck 24/7, even in winter or when it's a hundred degrees. Weimaraners are wacky, but special.
OK, back to it.