Saturday, August 13, 2022

September 7

In the morning, Donna was still a little frosty toward me. When she’s not pleased like this, she often questions my actions and corrects me. With a certain curtness she’ll ask: “Why are you making more coffee? Did I say I wanted more coffee?” Or “Why are you drying your hands with that?” That’s the towel for the dishes not your hands.”

Unlike the previous night when I was in a state of delirium comparing myself to Shakespeare and wrongly thinking I was so clever and funny her response to my behavior from the night before was hilarious. Almost always, unless I’ve been a real asshole about something, I can smooth things over by complying to her commands and corrections by smiling at her and muffling my laughter. She’ll eventually smile back, womansplain what I did wrong, and we’ll move on like have for nearly three decades.

It was unfortunate that I was so tired last night because this place—Dinosaur National Monument—is incredible. It contains some fifteen hundred dinosaur fossils, numerous petroglyphs (etchings in the walls) and pictographs (pictures on the walls) and has a school field trip kind of vibe. Still, its stark canyons, red rocks and proximity to the Green and Yampa rivers are quite stunning. Also, from the stone tools and old granaries it’s estimated that people have lived here for some ten-thousand years and since they had time to etch and draw pictures in the walls they did so quite comfortably.

Field of rocks

Though we were on a tight schedule we did go for a short walk. Along the trail that looked down on the Green River, Donna pointed out a field of tiny rocks and with the same glee and excitement Jimmy Choo might have entering the shoe department at Bloomingdale’s. “I wish I could have them all,” she said.  

After going through the quaint town of Jensen which had this awesome stone archway we continued south. It was a smooth sailing along Rt. 139 seeing several signs for Colorado Interpretive sites. These were off-road hiking trails that had both recreational and historical value, Then as we got closer to Loma and Grand Junction we were stopped twice for upwards of ten-minutes for road paving. When you see those signs on 139: “Roadwork Next 40 Miles,” it means something, and we were glad we gave ourselves a cushion to get to Montrose.

With the continuous stops along 139 there was a line of vechiles behind us and after getting past the second ten-minute traffic stop there was another mountain to traverse. We were again punked by big V-8 pick-ups who passed us at will, often crossing double yellows, both going up and going down. Near the summit, as we started our descent, in a bit of instant roadway karma we saw all these V-8’s get stuck behind a big eighteen wheeler with a tipper trailer hauling heavy material like stone or iron ore. They would cross a double yellow to pass us but not these big trucks which moved with great caution down the mountain. Not that I’m shallow or competitive or anything but I was quietly laughing to myself when we caught up to all these V-8's as the road flattened out. Assholes.

We arrived at the Montrose airport with an hour to spare and Donna puttered around in the back of the van straightening things up. She objects to this puttering characterization because when I use it, I always compare her to our mothers—god rest their souls—meaning, she’s an old lady. The truth is, as we both enter our sixth decade and are starting that long walk toward life’s giant fadeout, we are old. Despite what a lot of assholes say, age is not just a number—as my shaky prostrate will attest to. I accept this more readily than Donna and tell her it’s okay to be old. It’s even okay being an old puttering lady.

We picked Caroline up at the quaint Montrose airport without incident. Every airport should be like this, with plenty of curbside parking and no  airport traffic guys giving you the business, waving you along if your pick-up isn’t executed in thirty seconds flat.  

Arch - Jensen, Utah
Caroline moved to California a little over a year ago and is a talented animation artist—check out her Instagram. Soon after arriving she was hired on as a freelance background artist on the reboot of Beavis and Butthead—yes, that B and B. It was a good union job and we/she we’re lulled into the belief, seeing how fast she got this job—this was going to be a breeze. But as is the case for just about every creator ever—it’s never easy. A pull back from Netflix in their animation arm and other industry forces led to the market being flooded with more experienced artists and she's been just missing on a bunch of other projects.

She keeps working her contacts and has gotten some short term work, as well as having a couple of part time jobs, but L.A. is an expensive place to live, and her resources aren’t unlimited. So, like every artist trying to make rent she needs a real job sooner rather than later. It should also be noted the courage and audacity it took for a young woman to move twenty-five hundred miles across the country by herself with only a few bucks in pockets and a belief in her talent. She/we are still optimistic that something will break for her, but then again, what good would it be if it didn’t come with all kinds of stress, anxiety and self-doubt? I'm kidding, of course, someone—somewhere hire her today so my cardiac event happens in my seventies like it’s supposed to. 

We last saw Caroline at Christmas and not only was it great to see her, but also, given the uncertainty of her situation, to pick up the tab and take care of her for a bit. Our stop here in Montrose was not only for our niece Rachel (and Kyle’s) wedding, but to spend a few days with Caroline as well. Donna is flying back to Buffalo for work on Wednesday, September 14th and I’m going to take Caroline back to L.A. after an overnight in Flagstaff and then at the Joshua Tree National Park. I’ll hang around L.A. for a few days, take some meetings, maybe do lunch with LeBron and then start the slow trek back to Buffalo.

We checked into our hotel—The Staywise in Montrose and after a shower and some laundry Caroline and I went to Denny’s for dinner. Donna stayed behind choosing to luxuriate in the air conditioning and a real bed.

Denny’s holds a special place in our family history. Back when the kids were young, and Donna was a stay-at-home mom for a time we took full advantage of the kids under twelve eat for free menu on Wednesday's and Saturday's. Where else could the five of us (including our two other kids Patrick and Madeline) get a decent non-fast-food meal for about thirty bucks? We went there so much I’ve only been back a few times in like fifteen years and always with Caroline. In fact, on our way out to L.A. last year we had dinner at the Denny’s in Grand Junction just north of here. It's kind of our thing now.

She ordered a Patti-melt and I went wild with the chicken and potatoes skillet. As is the case with Denny’s, both were mediocre—I got to finish Caroline’s Patti-melt.

Regardless of the meal, it was great to see my little girl.

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. Hey Paulie. It’s John. We saw you coming out of Black Canyon but had no cell service to flag you down. Great place! Hope you’re having fun! Enjoying reading your escapades and experiences. Keep it coming!!!

  2. The tone changed when Caroline enters the story. Nice touch.