Rambling on Our Rambling
Updated: Jun 23
We are coming up on the halfway point of our trip. A couple of friends have asked what we’ve found so far during our search for America. I’m not sure we’ve made a lot of progress with the aspiration to increase our understanding of the country. After all, until a few days ago, the trip has been focused on long drives to meet up with family and friends. It has been pure joy to spend time with them all, but those visits were meant to be collateral to the road-trip expansion of minds. In fact, Colorado hadn’t even been on the itinerary until Whit told us he was proposing to Betsy in Vail in February.
So now that the schedule of family reunions is behind us (which I confess depressed me for a couple of days) it’s time to get serious about our search for America. I think about what I’ve learned so far. One surprising discovery - the country isn’t as ruined as I thought it was. Since crossing the Mississippi we have enjoyed huge, empty expanses of pristine landscapes; quiet, dense forests; crystal clear and full rivers; and wide mountain views bearing no scars of human activity - no strip malls, no houses, no roads, no barking dogs, no leaf blowers, no litter, no dog poop; and no motors of any kind. I am on an endless quest for “motorless moments” as I used to say to the kids, and we have enjoyed many out here.
I’ve learned to love NM and CO and have enjoyed Zillow binging, fantasizing about moving to Pinos Altos, Santa Fe, Sedona, Aspen, Boulder, Durango. Brose has been learning about western versions of birds we see at home such as bluebirds, jays, finches, doves, northern flickers, and more. I’ve enjoyed using my plant app to identify western shrubs, wildflowers, and evergreens.
We’ve become expert AirBnB guests. In fact, I think AirBnB and VRBO should recognize “super guests” as they do “super hosts”. I pride myself on leaving each place exactly how I found it.
VRBO in Taos
AirBnB in Snowmass
AirBnB in Durango
By now we have stayed at 7 AirBnBs/VRBOs and have learned: all are equipped with sub-par coffee machines and electric stoves; incomprehensibly, high-tech and somewhat musical washing machines and dryers; confoundingly, portable toilet paper roll holders; TVs that don’t allow you watch TV because they are all hooked up to streaming devices; and oddly equipped kitchens (one high-end place had no saucepan; one tiny cabin in Sedona had an extremely elaborate espresso machine that came with 10 pages of instructions).
I’ve learned that I’m not an enthusiastic camper. In Moab we “glamped”. Glamping or fancy camping is a lot easier than camping (we had a king-sized bed and our own bathroom). This place didn’t even allow you to cook near your tent so we had a good excuse to eat in restaurants and only use the camp for sleeping, which would have been terrific if the camp hadn’t been located twenty feet from US Highway 191 which roared with traffic 24 hours per day. (I don't think Charlie likes glamping either, she nearly froze to death one night.)
Glamping at UnderCanvas Moab
We haven’t learned much about people. When we started this trip, or started thinking about the trip, I imagined beer-fueled conversations with strangers at western saloons that would enlighten us about how people who live in the middle of the country see the world. We did go to a western saloon a couple of nights ago. Right out of a John Wayne movie complete with scantily dressed, feather topped servers, and old men with cowboy hats and bandanas tied around their throats. But we didn’t chat with anyone.
Saloon hopping in Durango
Brose has been doing behavioral studies of dog walkers while sitting on the porch of our cute Durango bungalow. We are staying a block from some trails so our street is busy with canine traffic. Early morning, men walking dogs; later morning women walking dogs; midday young moms walking dogs with strollers. Dogs can be a great way to meet people, and Charlie has been proficient in introducing us to other walkers. Everyone has been very friendly, but these interactions don’t teach us much.
Pretty lame when you add it up. But we are having a great time. College friend Katie came up from Santa Fe to spend the weekend with us here in Durango, and we had a blast touring the town, biking, eating, drinking, and dancing. Maybe we won’t learn much from this trip, but we are grateful to spend outdoor time together in these unbelievably, gorgeous places.