So long, Colorado! It’s been…something.
So long, Colorado! It’s been…something.
To preface: rain finally came to Colorado…
Featherlight and arrow tight
a clear cascade to scour light,
it downs the earth through flashes bright
and ends in walls to steal the sight.
A crackle, night, beckoned at the howl
while men descend into the bowl
and the old bark, it bends to growl,
swirled in blacktop mirror, like sinking fowl.
Yet there ride the drifting fires,
a four-wheeled beast to scatter its own pyres
drifting to the wake the Blue Wolf sires–
a thunder on the mountain, drifting ever higher.
It’s been a strange week since then, one with its ups and its downs. Being my natural clumsy self, within the first 48 hours I managed to get in a bike accident that took off most of the skin on the bottom of my palms. However, I also managed a great deal of exploration, photographic discovery, and plenty of quality time with family and their friends.
It’s an interesting place, Colorado, and the land is made infinitely better by family. Undoubtedly, in the days to come I’ll have more to say on the mountainous terrain – more pictures and more poems to give homage to the majesty to be found here, but today, to start this new week out, and to re-establish the normal flow of things around the Waking Den, I would like to kick things off with the latest Quote of the Week, with this week’s focus being family, in all its wonder. Cheers, all.
“An ounce of blood is worth more than a pound of friendship.”
“What greater thing is there for human souls than to feel that they are joined for life – to be with each other in silent unspeakable memories.”
After a massive rain storm hemmed us hotel guests in last night, preventing any extensive exploration of the area (not that there was a terribly large amount to see, from the look of things—barring some sort of children’s fort dedicated to Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show), morale for the Nebraska leg of my journey was not particularly high. After a few drinks at the hotel’s bar with a few of my fellow patrons (apparently drunk people, locked in by rain, occasionally enjoy a writer!) and a power sleep, though, I discovered two amazing things.
After that, I undertook the final leg of this journey…
Today’s journey began in North Platte, Nebraska. From there, I traveled 270 miles in about 4 hours (for once, the time Google and Tom Tom actually told me it would take…though my version of the trip included stops and photo look-abouts, so I still win) to Golden, Colorado.
It occurred to me that I forgot two very important things to the Nebraska experience that fortunately still applied on the third day of this trip. To truly understand Nebraska, you must expect:
Back to the descriptions, though, the road bloomed in darkness and in rain clouds on the third day of the trip…spat a few globs of rain at me, and then went on to being just a grey haze. And let me tell you, if anything can make the Nebraska experience a little more uncomfortable instead of the same old blue sky on those same old green plains, it’s adding a grey cast to the whole affair. There weren’t even layers of clouds to break it up…it was just one continues grey slab.
First thoughts: Hills! Sweet and holy changes in elevation! AND NO CORN!
Quickly replaced by: Oh, God. Where did the hills go? It’s…it’s even more dead than Nebraska. Seriously, words cannot begin to describe—it was the lonely, barren prairie you see in all those classy westerns. To truly appreciate how dry it is here, observe:
The first picture is the Platte River, from North Platte, Nebraska. The second image is the Platte River, as seen in Sterling, Colorado. Yes, note the distinct lack of actual water there. Oh dears.
Speaking of Sterling, though, I stopped there to refuel, hit the rest area, and poke around the local nature area, as I was informed my brother and sister-in-law wouldn’t be about in Golden until 5…and I still had another hour’s time change to go through (Colorado is 2 hours behind Michigan, by the by). I got some pretty shots around “Kiwanis Cove”…and then I met some dogs.
Yes, dogs. A pair of wild dogs. They just, appeared out of the trees, lowered their heads, growled, and started to advance. Experiencing an, “Oh, crap” moment, I started to jog in the opposite direction. Naturally, they quickly overtook me. Curiously, they seemed content with me as long as I jogged. When I stopped—they growled, in the I’m-going-to-eat-your-face sort of way. When construction workers caught their attention though, I’m not ashamed to say I bolted the rest of the way to the car. Then I hit the road and tried to forget Sterling. Goodness.
After that, though, it was sparse towns. Eastern Colorado was even worse than Nebraska for finding gas. They actually had signs for towns that read, simply, “No services” – none, none at all. And though you had the continuous feeling of rising, the barren expanse about me made me eventually go, “Where’d the corn go? Bring back the corn!”
And the temperature was a thing to behold. In Sterling, still at about Nebraska’s elevation, it was 72 degrees. I swear I crossed like two rises and suddenly it shot up to 86…and kept jumping until Denver, for a total of about 93 degrees. Closer to the sun. Oh yeah.
Obviously, though, I made it (and the barren fortunately transformed into those mountains I do so love), and so now, this is essentially my back yard…
Quote of the Day: “The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” ~ G. K. Chesterton
beneath wide skies.
Morning began early, to the sounds of two Hispanic maids quarreling in the parking lot. Oh dears. Nonetheless, it woke me in time for a good shower and the most important meal of the day: breakfast! Even if said breakfast consisted largely of Cheerios. I might have partaken also of the inn’s crescent rolls but they looked distinctly…more brown and less crescent-y than I would have hoped.
Regardless, breakfast provided the opportunity to meet my fellow guests—an asian couple that quickly departed, a pair of Israeli backpackers (who insisted to me that coffee is the greatest proof of God…alright, I’ll roll with it), and a young Native American family headed to Chicago (and yes, if you’ll note, that means one of these groups snuck in when I wasn’t looking during the night…thus ruining all that cozy space I had! I mean…THREE people in a hotel besides me? Madness. Two is just right.)
But after that breakfast of kings, it was back to the road…
Today’s journey began in Des Moines, Iowa. From there, I traveled 402 miles in 5 ½ hours (Tom Tom and Google both told me it would take 6 ½ – once again, technology is thoroughly walloped by my likely lead foot).
Iowa: There wasn’t a terribly large amount more to see. Lots of Windmills. Some of the flat gave way to trees and hills as rivers loomed. I-80 wound into a riverside city, to become one of the busiest and most congested bits of real estate I’ve seen since the highway through Chicago. A bridge formed the border (thankfully toll-less) between Iowa and its neighbor, one city flowing effortlessly into another, and Omaha forming the welcoming party on the other side.
Unleaded is now “Super” Unleaded. It costs 20 cents more than the unleaded many of you know and love. Unleaded has ethanol in it now, and to boot, I can get real ethanol, which they seem to be encouraging…but it’s all just there to screw with my head I think. Ah, corn country.
North Platte, Nebraska. It has a gorgeous river view, I’ll give it that. Beyond, I would not recommend it to any of you travelers out there. If you do head that way, though, I would recommend somewhere other than the Quality Inn. The wi-fi is shoddy, the view and the room itself are obviously…both less efficient than my previous lodging was. Still, the rooms do come with both a fridge and a microwave, so that’s something at least.
Next stop? The final leg of the trip—on to Golden, Colorado.
Quote of the Day: “A traveler without observation is a bird without wings.” ~ Moslih Eddin Saadi
This week the Den is taking a bit of a twist in functionality as all words are twisted into my strange version of a travel log. That’s right, the day has come at last, and I have hit the road for the mountains of Colorado! Presently, I’m actually writing this to you from a nice little hotel in beautiful downtown…Des Moines, Iowa.
I hope you enjoy the peek into my mind and into my little road adventure, but to those of you coming here for poetry…I do hope you’ll forgive me for stepping out for a week or so! Promise I’ll have poems again once this little poet’s all settled in…
Now then, what was there to see? Well, let us reflect…
Today’s journey began in Rockford, Michigan. Hurrah for suburbanite America in all its glory. From there, I traveled 514 miles in 7 ½ hours (Tom Tom and Google both told me it would take 8 ½ – take that technology!). Along the way:
Hour 1: Morale is high, even when 94.1 abruptly changes from its alternative goodness to a firebrand evangelist preacher. Fearing that the Wells Hall preacher from MSU has tracked me down somehow, I quickly turn to 97.9 and don’t look back. Also, something in my back seat is squeaking. A lot. Madness.
Hour 2: 97.9 Turns to country. Twang twang. Scenery is pretty as the squeaking ceases. Sanity stabilizes with the emergence of the i-Pod. All is well.
Indiana: Oh hi Indi—oh? That was Indiana? But I didn’t even…well, that’s gone, I suppose.
Chicago: Chi-town. The windy city. The—OH GOD DID THAT GUY’S HUB CAP JUST BURST OFF ON THE HIGHWAY!? Fortunately, no one is harmed in the resulting evasive swerving of cars. 97.9 has returned from the dead as some sort of classic rock station. I hesitantly listen on. First toll booth—despite slow traffic at points, it’s probably the quickest trip I’ve taken through or around Chicago.
Illinois: Corn. Corn. Hill! Corn. Also a lot of semis. However I did see our…
Sign of the Day: Actually, this one was graffiti, but nonetheless…on a bridge somewhere outside of Chicago read the words, “Jesu rock around yo soul.” Given the prevalence of “He is coming soon!” signs elsewhere in this state, I do hope he shall wield better grammar than his heralds.
1. The great old Mississippi River! (By the way, the Mississippi River actually took me a count of 28 Mississippis to cross. Tsk tsk, false advertising.)
2. Now, I won’t deny it, after that, there was lots of corn, and a lot of flat…expanse. Regardless, I must say any time I’ve seen a river in this state, breathtakingly beautiful scenery has surrounded it. Vibrant trees, hilly dips, flowers, verdant everything…and then of course, more corn.
3. By God. The biggest truck stop in the country!—and all I can think is…Damn, look at all those trucks. Also of note: they did not have the lowest gas price in the state. Don’t give in just because it’s big!
4. Give me curves in the road. A bridge. Anything. BREAK THE MONOTONY.
5. Oh dear, glad I’m not going the other way. That is a semi. Those are a lot of ambulances and cops. And that…oh, that’s an emergency helicopter there to airlift someone out. Eek. Traffic on that side of the road? Backed up 5 miles. Everyone’s out of their cars taking pictures. I don’t fiddle with cameras while driving, so tough noogies to you readers.
6. Des Moines! First thing I notice…factories. Smoke. And an interesting array of clouds that lead me steadily to…
Best Western! See my hotel room? And that’s all for me, because they don’t really vary in their room types.
Best part? I’m apparently one of only three, yes, THREE guests in the entire hotel right now. In the words of the desk manager: “So, you know…don’t get too rowdy, or something.”
Rock on, good sir. Rock on. And right adjacent to my hotel? A gas station, a Cracker Barrel, and a Mexican place. (On which note I must say, Los Tres Amigos, you have been proven woefully deficient. While you charge $9 for your combos, and $2 for your drinks, EL RODEO charged a mere $7 for its combos, and $1 for unlimited refill drinks! I have seen your inferiority exposed!)
And thus ends, day one. Tomorrow? Nebraska. I must store up my courage tonight.
nightingale screech of metal grind
vestiges of slumber—
in silent Chaos writhe
the World all sheltered black,
this Veil, it doth descend
betwixt the Heavens and the Earth
no more Fire, no more Song
yet Dappled Emeralds gleam
throughout the Haze of Waking
this World rise, Higher and Higher
tilting back, breathing in
the clouds, circling pull
Dream yet from Reality
and Everything of this Canvas,
rides Higher still into the Night
set it all below, and looking down
bask within the Golden River Shadow
of History shaped and cast
into the Towers of Majesty
the Stars and the Sea,
no King might ever rise
* Another poem for the wonderful Monday Poetry Potluck, as hosted by Jingle Poetry, and those lovely poets Amanda and Kavita! The theme this week was mountains and beaches, and I couldn’t help but think back to my most recent venture in Colorado. This one was inspired by my time there in the summer–I hope you enjoy! Hope you don’t mind that I also took the opportunity to throw in some more of my pictures from that trip, even if they don’t match up quite specifically with the poem itself.
It’s been several weeks now since I returned from Colorado, and aside from a few shots used to accentuate some of my poems, I’ve not posted all that many shots from the trip. This is to set things right. Though I took hundreds of shots while out and about in the mountainous state, I have selected a few here as a sort of highlight real for the trip. WordPress, I think, would be quite upset with me if I tried to upload everything. In fact, I think I’d be liable to break the bloody system.
So here, in a nutshell, is my trip. What better inspiration could one have asked for? Sights featured in my shots include Rocky Mountain National Park, the Red Rocks and Red Rocks Amphitheater, my brother and sister-in-law’s home, and just a few shots from the more nature-inclined areas around Denver, CO.
I have returned! And that means pictures, poems, and (soon enough) short stories on the way.
So where did I go? To the north! What does that mean? If you know anything of Michigan, what that means is the beauty of Traverse City, the vast pine and maple beech forests of the northern lower peninsula, and the breathtaking scale of the sweeping sand dunes known as Sleeping Bear Dunes.
I have a case of this thing known as Wanderlust, you see. It demands I go places when the mood settles too deeply within me. Thus, away I went. Try not to be too offended if it happens from time to time.
More to the point, I still have to finish posting the work I completed in Colorado, but for today at least, that’s going on hold to make room for the pair of poems I made while off on this week’s travels. To begin, a simple haiku:
Breathless blue romance
By the blooming emerald hills;
How vibrant life stirs.
What you may notice about these Haiku is that they do not, in fact, have to do with the mountains themselves, as many of the my previous works have. Though these came from my time in Colorado, they were inspired by other sights around me–the city of Denver, for one, the sight of the towering mountain mines for another.
Also, while there are more still to come, I want to say that once again, there may be another brief hiatus on posting as I head north. I will only be gone for a few days, and when I return, posting will resume as normal.
In the meantime, enjoy:
Split the rock below,
Drills bore into deepest hold—
Dead men tell no tales.
Rocky mile high club
Five hundred thousand souls strong
No wonder they smile.
Beyond the pale light
Sleeps the gilded dragon king—
Fear the reigning flame.