Sunday, August 14, 2022

September 6

At the beginning of our second day on the road my oldest brother Joe, sent an unprompted text that said: “Let Donna drive, you patriarchal bastard.” 

Despite the great night watching the sun fall behind the Tetons, Donna’s superb fire and listening to Outlaw Country on SiriusXM, I couldn’t sleep. I’ve mentioned elsewhere in the blog that I typically wake up by about 4am, but out here doing the van thing a new pattern has emerged—one night 4am, next night 2am. This was a 2am night.

It caught up with me as we left the Tetons and weaved in and out of Rt. 191 on our way south to Montrose, Colorado by way of the Green River Campground in Jensen, Utah. Two-hours into our planned five-hour trek getting gas in Boulder, Wyoming, I could barely keep my head up and reluctantly handed the conn over to Donna for the first time in our two-thousand mile plus journey.

It's not that I don’t trust Donna behind the wheel or that she’s accident prone, it’s just driving is my thing, like fire is her thing—she’s such an expert fire starter poems have been written about her incendiary talents. When she’s around I’m not allowed to even light birthday candles. And when there's driving to be done, I do it—mostly. But called to duty she readily agreed while I went in the back and tried to sleep for a bit.

Unfortunately, this section of 191 wasn’t all that smooth and real sleep wasn’t possible. Nevertheless, I laid there for forty-five minutes resting. After getting up I sat in the passenger seat for another forty-five minutes as well, but it was hopeless. I was all fidgety and gripping the drunk handle like I had just downed a twelve-pack and before long Donna pulled over and let me drive again.

As mentioned our destination in this leg of our trip was Montrose, Colorado for our niece Rachel (and Kyle’s) wedding. From the Tetons it was about eight hours, but instead of doing it all in one day or going four and four we decided to do it five and three. Our daughter Caroline was coming in from L.A. and we wanted to make sure we were there when her plane landed so we gave ourselves a little wiggle room in case we ran into any problems.

Of course, I wasn’t really ready to handle taking the wheel again but me sitting in the passenger seat was even more stressful for the both of us. As soon as I again took the conn we had a mountain to traverse. I was now gaining confidence going up and down the mountains even when we came to the "switchbacks," these severe forty-five degree turns in the mountain that led to the Cart Creek Bridge and past the Flaming Dam Gorge into Vernal. Despite the hard angles the locals in big V8 pick-ups consistently passed me, often over double yellow lines, like it was nothing. Though I managed to be near at the speed limit I was constantly having to tap my breaks while everybody passing just sailed along, not a break light in sight. How the hell did they do that?

When we  arrived at the Green River Campground in Jensen, just the other side of the incredibly beautiful Dinosaur National Monument with its rolling canyons and natural alcoves it was almost 6pm.  The thermometer was hovering at about one-hundred degrees and I was completely spent. After finding a campsite for the night which was $18, Donna wanted to do a little exploring, but I set up a chair in the shade, poured myself a drink and that was it for me.

Donna went for a walk and when she got back started a fire with wood left over from the Tetons. She again asked me to join her at the fire ring which was a few yards from the van in a little opening between some juniper bushes. Being so tired this was not a good idea since I had nothing positive to offer and any interaction would surely have ended badly. She didn’t huff off, but she wasn’t entirely pleased either.

I wasn’t happy about letting her down, but I needed my space. At home in our house there’s usually some distance between us. Donna is typically in the front of the house in the living room or weather permitting on the porch off the garage in the yard. I spend ninety percent of my time in a little back bedroom that has been converted to an office with my desk, books, laptop and my greatly prized Steelcase chair. It also has a couch and a flatscreen. The other ten percent is spent in the kitchen, of course.

As I sat in my chair in a haze of extreme irritable tiredness, I rationalized my choice by comparing myself to Shakespeare. Authors spend vast amounts of time within their own heads looking for fissures in their writing and deliberating thoughts. And like Shakespeare at this moment, I needed to go to this place in my head not to do any editing, more to just be with myself.

In my delirium I wondered what the solitary room in Shakespeare head was like and I saw roses, lush furniture and heard the sweet melodies of a harpsichord. Conversely, the room in my head was strewn with cigarette butts, turned over lawn chairs and some Lemonheads. In my diminished state, I thought what I had conjured of Shakespeare and myself was so clever and hilarious.

In the morning, however, after some real sleep the conjuring seemed really dumb. I mean, I haven’t smoked for years and years.

How we got here...
An Ode to Fire and Donna
Chronological Posts From The Road 
Going Mobile: What We Learned
Our Rig: A Pictorial Essay




  1. Nice! Relatable for sure.

  2. I really enjoyed your adventure today! The mountains are crazy to drive, but it's beautiful! What a wonderful time to spend together πŸŽ‰πŸ‘