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Archive for the ‘High places’ Category

I don’t know! Clearly it was a bad decision. Stop trying to cross roads, armadillos! You’ve been around since the dinosaurs – stick around a while longer. Same goes for snakes and turtles. (Sob.)

That’s my road trip wisdom. Also, the Oklahoma Panhandle is one of the most desolate and sad places to drive through. Nothing moves but the wind, and it seems to have blown all the color away. You would not even notice the wind except that it blows your car around, and what trees there are are fixed in a position of permanent strain. I feel sad for them, with no rest.

So I was very happy that before entering the Panhandle I impulsively stopped in this place:

Gloss Mountains State Park. It was still early, and there was nobody there. (I don’t know if that had anything to do with it being early. Maybe no one goes there at all. It seemed pretty un-visited.) I climbed up the path with its rickety stairways, and at the top of the “mountain” – more like what I would call a mesa – I sat and had an apply with peanut butter. Hawks were wheeling overhead. A rosy-winged bird flew over me and straight out over the edge of the mesa, which made me wish I was a bird, and then feel very nervous for some reason. There were so many flowers I didn’t know the names of. Like this:

And this:

The mesa was striated with a kind of stone that a sign told me was selenite gypsum. This is what it looks like:

I took some pieces of it. And then I climbed down. And drove and drove, and then got to Denver. I had a lovely dinner with my Mom, slept, switched cars with Mom (the point of the trip), ate cake for breakfast at this amazing German/Japanese bakery where they make cakes that look like the cross-sections of trees. Went to the Cherry Creek Mall to get a phone charger and on the way out I swear I was hypnotized by a a silver-tongued Israeli flat-iron saleswoman. Left the mall half an hour later with very silky hair, and a ceramic hair-straightener. Wow, that was crazy.

Headed south on I-25, planning to stop for the night in Trinidad, CO, but I was lured off the highway by a sign pointing to the Great Sand Dunes. It’s true, they really are Great. Just look at this:

What are giant heaps of sand doing in the eaves of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains? I don’t know why, because I haven’t read the information they gave me yet. And why did I decide I had to climb up them? I think it’s because it was really out of my way, my footwear was utterly inappropriate, and I did not need to do it at all. Actually, it’s the most frivolous very difficult thing I’ve done in recent memory. I guess I’m craving altitude right now. Anyway, I climbed to what looked like the to, from the bottom, and then when I got there it became clear that there was so much more, but my knees were screaming at me, so I sat for a minute, drank some water, and went back down. Here’s me at the windy not-top:

See, my hair! It’s straight! Behind me is the rest of the dunes – not the part I climbed. Because it’s my solitary road trip, I had to take a solitary route instead of the way everyone else was going. I don’t know if that was easier or harder. What I do know is that I have blisters on the bottoms of my toes (yay for driving eight hours tomorrow with blistered toes) because I climbed the dunes barefoot, and I’m so glad I did. I’m in an Inn now in La Veta – I really meant to drive to Trinidad still, but this place called out to me to stop. It’s so quiet. So quiet.

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