The adventure begins when things stop going as planned

I’m sitting outside the laundromat in Estes Park, Colorado, just one mile east of the entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park.  Yes, laundry is one of those mindless duties necessary on trips like this because, well, we smell.  But, it does give me time to reflect and spew forth the events of the past several days.  We’re already on day 9, and I’m doing my best to remember everything.  Maybe if I stopped sipping so much whiskey at night it might come easier.  Naaaaa…

I awoke the morning of day 6 six waaaaaaay too early.  I’m tellin’ ya, when the sun hits the tent, I’m up!  And these days, the sun is hitting at around 4:45AM.  Lovely.  I did manage to use the facilities (aka ‘Forest behind the tent’ – TMI!) and stumble back into bed for another 1 1/2 hours of not-so-blissful slumber.  The semi’s in the parking lot next door tend to wake a gal up, but I was too tired to let it really bother me.  Jack emerged earlier than I expected, around 7:45.  He and Terry slept in the same tent as it was “daddy’s turn” to share a bunk.  And our goal for this day?  Why the Delicate Arch, of course!  You know the arch.  It’s the one they use in EVERY SINGLE Utah advertisement.  Oooohhhh, that one!  No need to fully gear-up today as it was going to be quite warm and the park was maybe 5 miles away.  Off to breakfast at Zax for some much needed sustenance and away we flew with t-shirts, shorts, hiking boots and helmets as the day’s attire.  Oh yes, sunblock, too.

Man, what a gorgeous day!  It was going to be about 85 degrees and it was warming up fast.  The breezy ride in was a welcome air conditioner as we rolled our way through the entrance of the park.  Have you ever been to Moab let along Utah?  YOU MUST GO!  You don’t even need to take the 2-wheel transportation, just go!  The pillars and formations, colors and elevations make you feel so, well, insignificant.  You feel like a speck in a sea of giants.  We made the right to head towards Delicate Arch and followed a barrage of cars, minivans (Ick!) and motorhomes to the parking lot.  Jack was jonesin’ for a hike, so we decided to first go to the lookout spot.  Hmmmmm.  We’re pretty far away.  And I see people HIKING TO THE ARCH!  This spot is sooooo not good enough for me.  Come on, kids, we’re goin’ up!  But wait!  There’s a Suburban coming up a washy, dirt road.  Uh huh, you guessed it.  Strap in kids; it’s going to be a bumpy ride!  Terry, unfortunately, is unable to stand on the pegs as he has Jack on the back, but he’s a very good dirt rider so he shouldn’t have any problems staying in the saddle.  I, on the other hand, stood on the pegs and let that back tire squirm and sway with every rock and wash.  Man, what gleeful fun!  Remember, don’t touch that front brake or you’ll pull a Fowler!  Yes, dude, that one’s for you…  I led the ride, down a short wash, across larger rocks, through some sand puddles and finally came to a gate.  Must the ride end now?!?  A truck came up behind us and opened the gate, motioning towards us as if to ask, “Are you coming through, too?”  We weren’t sure what the deal was, but it did appear as if it was public land; they just wanted to make sure that the gate stayed closed when not in use.  Hmmmm.  Time for us to turn around and discuss our plans in the parking lot.  Back we went to the sea of tourists.  After a very brief discussion, we declared, “Fuck it!” and headed back down the dirt trail and past the gate.  Jack was kind enough to hold it open for us.  Quite the little gentleman.  He hopped back on with Terry and away we went seeking out more trail fun.  After about 1/2 mile, we rode up behind some people with their Ford Escape stuck in a very deep wash.  Ha ha!  Suckers!  You just know that car was a rental! It was high centered and not going ANYWHERE until they could dislodge it from the boulder.  The two chicks were outside rocking the top of the truck while the guys were inside doing whatever it is that guys do when they don’t want to get out of the car.  Sometimes it’s just fun to sit back and watch what happens next.  They finally got the truck to move forward and out of my way.  I was practically shaking at the chance to blast down and up the other side, especially when my bike was completely unloaded and light.  Well, 425 pounds light.  Down I went, ass over the back tire, choosing my path wisely, and gunned it up the other side, leaning over the handlebars and shifting my weight, as I got closer to the top.  Nice!  Can we do that again?  Well, we’re going to have to as the dudes got the car stuck AGAIN in another wash!  Way to go, fellas!  Maybe you should let the chicks drive and you can shake the car around.  And here I was, having to make an Austen Powers turnaround in a sea of sand about six feet wide and on a slope.  Forward a bit, back a bit, brake.  Forward a bit, back a bit, brake.  Rinse, repeat.  It took a while, but I managed to turn around.  There really was no alternative.  You mean I get to go down and up the wash again?  WEEEEEE!  So back to the parking lot we went in search of the trail that led to the arch.  I was going to hike there, dammit!  We didn’t ride all this way to pull a Griswold (think National Lampoon’s Vacation and the Grand Canyon scene…did ya get it?)

Up the main road a bit was the sign for the Delicate Arch trailhead.  Water?  Check.  Snacks?  You betcha.  Putting an 8 year old in charge of his Camelbak?  Not the smartest thing to do.  After about 1/2 mile into the 1 1/2 mile climb, Jack declared that his well runneth dry.  Delightful.  My Camelbak was about 3/4 full and had to cover Terry and I.  Now, I was the camel for all three Borden’s.  Time to ration!  No big gulps, please!  And man, you should’ve heard Jack BITCH the entire hike up, declaring, “I’m going to die!  My legs are SO tired!  I can’t do this…..BWAAAAA!”.  Those of you with kids know this tantrum.  You also know you’re ready to put them up on Craig’s List, if only you could get a signal on your fucking iPhone.  I just about left him, but Terry had the right head for Jack’s shenanigans.  I, on the other hand, did not.  This is why it takes 2 parents’ to parent.  Brooke and all you other single parent’s, I bow to you.  I don’t know how you do it.  We managed to lose the trail (idiots) but quickly found it to our left.  It was marked with Blair Witch statues, Ronni!  How did we miss that turn?  With only a little bit more to climb, Jack began to now jump from rock to rock.  Legs don’t hurt now, do they you little @*$&!  But the tears, the screaming, the lack of water was all worth the scene that unfolded before us as we made the last turn.  The arch stood majestically, so much larger than I could’ve imagined.  We all stood in awe for a while, taking in the view, appreciating what nature had to go through to create such a masterpiece.  I, too, was figuring out the best route to get to the arch.  You see, there’s a very sloped, slightly steep, red sandstone curve that you had to trek to get to the other side.  Not many people were doing it, especially after the dude standing next to us declared to all that “There’s a sign down there saying that people have died because they misjudged the steepness”.  Thanks, buzz kill, but I’m goin’ in!  Like I said before, I didn’t come all this was just to look at it.  I needed to touch it, sit under, take it in.

I took my time in assessing the best way to tackle the curve and slope.  Fortunately, I brought my Asolo’s, my most trusted hiking boots.  Grippy.  Terry hung back with Jack while I drank the Kool Aid first.   I made my way around, being careful not to run due to sheer excitement, and reached out with my left hand to touch nature’s gift.  It was worn from years upon years of weather.  It wore varying shades of red as well as yellows and white’s.  It was huge!  I sat under it in its late day shadow, marveling.   Lucky for me, those fools on the other side were too afraid to make the trek.  I welcome a challenge as the reward is always worth the effort.  I motioned for Terry and Jack to join me.  We sat in awe, scanning the 180 degree view of the valley, pointing out the dirt road we had just rode and taking in the visual candy.  Words and pictures will not do this marvel justice.  Guess you’ll just have to go see it for yourselves.  I dare you.

After about 20 minutes of awe, we decided it was probably a nice idea to leave so others could take pictures without our sweaty bodies in them.  Heavy sigh.  Time to leave.  But that’s okay; we were here.  We got to take in a wonder of nature.  Back down we strode, making sure to stay on the trail this time.  As we made our way down, I noticed all the fools who didn’t bring enough water/food/sunblock/babysitters.  Child complaining now?  Wait a couple of minutes.  Good luck with that.  Our bikes welcomed us with toasty helmets and scorching seats.  Time to rehydrate and grab some grub.  After a stop at the visitor’s center for water, we headed back into town for food then back to camp.  But wait!  The night is still young!  A walk for ice cream was necessary after such an accomplishment.  We found gelato (even better) at a local brew house filled to the doors with tourists bearing sensible hairdos and sandals with socks.  Classic.  We finished our gelato OUTSIDE and headed back to camp.  But what is that we spy to our left but a GO KART TRACK!  I’m in!  But let me first set the scene for you…

Okay, close your eyes and think back to Star Skate in the 80’s; carpeted walls laden with black light popping planets and stars, the wall lined with all the latest video games, your favorite song FINALLY being played for all-skate.  Now, imagine if you will, they never, EVER vacuumed, fixed the games or picked up a sponge!  Dude, you should’ve seen this place.  Mr. Clean could retire on this place.  But it all made sense when you met the cat who ran the joint.  He was a tad filthy in a slightly homeless kind of way.  He did have teeth, but only half of them.  No, no, I don’t mean he was missing some; I mean that half of each tooth was rotted and a delicate shade of coffee grounds brown.  Splash in a 5 second delay every time he answered a question and ladies and gentlemen, you have our host for tonight’s festivities!  We’ll just call him Cooter.  Ol’ Cooter had 5 cars total, 3 of them working.  Cooter also thought to hang a fabulous array of Christmas lights around the track.  To start said working cars, well, just think lawn mower.  But hey, for $5 a head, we’re still in!  And Jack didn’t care about the place; he just knew he got to drive a car all by himself.  He led Terry and I around and around, never once crashing his car.  And this kid has his foot in it all the way!  Good boy.  We rode for a good 10 minutes till Cooter noticed we were still there.  Good boy.  We walked out of there laughing, enjoying our experience, knowing there was a great story to be told.  Back to camp we skipped and climbed into our respective tents.  Nighty night.

Morning came too early.  We packed our camp, chatted a bit with the Canada girls, and headed out for breakfast.  With destination Grand Junction, Colorado, on the GPS, we took the road less traveled, twisting and turning along Highway 128.  It was like driving along the bottom of the Grand Canyon.  Terry and I felt puny being as we rode past  mile high walls of rock and sandstone.  We paralleled the Colorado River for most of the ride, honking and giving ‘thumbs up’ to all the long- range cyclists along the way.  But, it was starting to get a bit breezy.  And that statement turned into the understatement of the day!  Once we hit Highway 70, we weren’t but 60 miles from Grand Junction, but dammit, the wind!  We rolled into the Holiday Inn Express just in time.  Not 1 1/2 later, Terry called me to the window to check out the scene.  Was it raining?  I don’t remember seeing that on  Nope, not rain!  It was a full-on dust storm.  With trees at a 90-degree angle, a wall of sand and dirt rolled its way across the town, completely eliminating any view of the buildings not 100 feet away.  Man, did we get here in time!

Did I mention why we stayed in Grand Junction?  To see Shane, of course!  Shane is an old friend from back in the day that we haven’t seen in over 10 years.  All of us used to hang in Santa Rosa and jet ski at Lake Sonoma together.  We moved, Shane moved, lost contact, reconnected via FB and BOOM!, here we are rolling through his town.  You know how cool it is to see someone after so long and they haven’t changed a bit?  That is Shane!  Awesome.  He picked us up at the hotel (in the same white Dodge truck he has in S.R.) and we jetted over to a BBQ restaurant, Famous Dave’s.  I decided that we had to order the trash can lid dinner.  Huh?  See, it’s a meal that serves 4-5 people, boasting an array of BBQ and sides, all neatly served in the lid of a metal trash can.  I mean, duh.  How can you NOT order that?  After filling our guts, Shane drove us around Grand Junction, showing the sites and eventually ending up at his place to continue the chat.  Once 9:30 hit, I hit the wall and needed to get to bed.  After he dropped us off, Jack and I headed up while Terry stayed down to continue catching up with his friend.  It was a great night with promises to stay in touch and see each other whenever we’re in the other’s backyard.  Thanks, Shane, for staying you.

Well, folks, there you have it!  Whew!  So much to tell and so few opportunities to put it into words.  Any of you making you plans to flee yet?  Why not?!?   Come on, it’s fun!  You get to know your family in such a different way.  There are a few moments you’d like to hop the next Greyhound home, but those are the moments you need to step back, take a deep breath, and learn how to maybe deal with the person or situation in a different manner.  We all are always learning.  If you aren’t, then you’re doing “life” wrong.  Cheers for now and more to come hopefully sooner rather than later.  Now go!

“Do one thing every day that scares you.”  Eleanor Roosevelt