4. New Mexico: Unfinished travel with a surprise ending…Sept/October, 2022

Day 13 10.8
Talie & I enjoyed our coffee & lazy morning laced with thought provoking conversation about growing older as well as lots of travel talk & some history of our lives growing up.  It was so good!

Talie is getting ready to go to Nepal for three weeks in November, then off for the winter to camp & see friends & family making her route a southern one to avoid cold temps & difficult driving weather as much as possible.  Talie has lived the past 20+ years on the road so that’s not new to her.  But this will be the first one without her left leg, which she lost less than a year ago.  Watching her every morning & evening tackle & embrace this kind of outdoor, wild, self reliant, camping way of life, but with the added difficulty of doing it with one leg & one badass prothesis is amazing.  She has approached this new way of getting around, like she has her whole life…she will do this.  I don’t know one other women that has had the experiences Talie has; or done some of the big huge solo backpacking trips she's conquered; or given of her time & money to charities, causes & organizations like she has; or has such a positive attitude & outlook on this up & down, out of our control, crazy thing we call life.  But this is her life & she is determined to still live it big in her own way.  And if there’s one person that can do this, it’s Talie.  I have no doubt.

She was off to Gunnison today with an agenda & I had one as well.  Mine would be to keep the slowness, stillness & quietness in my days right now.  As the fall season here changes to winter (especially this will be happening soon here in Crested Butte) my spring, summer & fall travels will also change.  I tend to stay home in the winter, unless I’m lucky enough to go to Florida to spend time with Sara’s family…then I not only am heart-filled with them, but enjoy the warm winter days in that state.  So, I was going to be here until afternoon, at least.

I also was glad to be having another visitor headed my way this morning.  Miki & I met when her & her husband were on a motorcycle road trip through Idaho.  I was at the Teton Brewery (in Idaho just behind the Grand Teton mountain) having a beer on their porch where Miki & Brian were doing the same.  We soon realized we both were stuck living in Kansas….her in Wichita.  And, a friendship began (finally, a fellow Kansan who dislikes living there as much as I do!).  We became FB friends keeping each other informed about our travels & also meeting up in Wichita last spring as I was traveling through on my spring trip to New Mexico. (Note:  This is the second cool woman I’ve met at this brewery.  Laura & I met the very first time I was here.  We keep in touch & she’s stayed at my house before traveling across country.  This brewery has a special place in my heart…yes they have good beer, but trip magic just keeps happening to me here…spectacular!)

She was out her showing her Mom & Stepdad all the good things CB, Gunnison & the surrounding areas have to offer…especially the changing of the trees to gold.  Miki was headed out my way this morning & I was looking forward to it.  I met her family & they strolled around while Miki & caught up, talked camping, travel, moving away from Kansas, etc.….it was great!  Super way to spend my morning!  I’m so grateful for the people I’ve met along my travels…they sure make my life better.  Then they were off on a big day trip.

I drove into CB around noon & got to have such a great conversation with Sara over the phone.  They have so much to do & Danny & really wanted to go down & help.  But, that wasn’t meant to be & they were both working day & night to mark everything off their list of what to get done & who they needed to contact.  Both cars had been totaled out as they were in about 4’ of water,  But, they had replaced one today & that was big.  They are still wading in a bit of water, watching their belongings & furniture float inside their house & trying to pack up what can be saved.  Ugh…I hate they are having to go through this.

I met Joanie at the Last Steep…a restaurant I used to love going to & came to know the owners over the past 15 years, who were originally from Kansas City.  But, like the Brick, they sold last spring & I had not been their since.  And, while visiting with Joanie over lunch was fantastic, I probably won’t be going back for the food...it was mediocre to say the least.  Joanie had left early this morning to go shoot some photographs out on Ohio Pass road; then she was headed back out this afternoon to shoot during the sunset.  It was super great being part of her lunch break & catching up.

After lunch, I drove back out to camp.  I made a cocktail, downloaded about 300 photographs I’d taken since I got to Crested Butte, & started working on my website.  It was the perfect place!

We all had another campfire & sat around & talked.  It might sound boring, but it never gets old!

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Day 14 10.9
Joanie had a bit of a car-concern on her drive back to camp last night, but Talie & Joanie put their heads together (I was just watching & listening) to try to figure out what to do.  This morning she checked some fluid levels & said they were fine.  We all enjoyed each others company having tea & coffee before Joanie moved on with her plan…she was headed to Telluride, some hot springs & lots more photography!

Talie went in town to do her stuff & around noon I drove into Secret Stash for a slice…such freaking good pizza!  Then I went back to enjoy another quiet afternoon in camp.  

Tonight would be my last night here in Crested Butte this year.  I’d purchased two things of firewood & picked up kindling from the forest…it felt like it would be super cold tonight (& it was) & I was going to have a bigger & longer fire than normal for our last night here.

Day 15 10.10
One last morning in camp visiting with Talie & having coffee.  I probably left sooner than I’d planned because the cowboys came to round up the cows to take them away for the winter.  I didn’t want to follow a road full of slow moving cows for six miles out to the highway, then continue to follow them, so I packed up, hugged Talie good bye, said good bye/ see ya next year to my special place & headed east toward home.

I briefly stopped at Cottonwood Springs hot springs, which I’d never been to but thought a soak sounded good. But they looked crowded & for some reason it no longer sounded like how I wanted to spend my time this morning.  I pushed onto Colorado Springs & stopped at my favorite place for lunch…Shugas.

I ordered the Cuban sandwich & their amazing Coconut Jalapeño Brazilian Spicy soup…so good!  

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Then I drove & drove & drove & drove & drove….clocking 12.5 hours today in the 4Runner & arriving back at home around 10:30pm.  Danny was waiting for me & it was so good to see him.  The cat’s always seems nonchalantly surprised when I walk in the door.  My road, camping, hiking trips seem to be over for 2022.  What a great year for travel!

This trip was only two weeks…one of my shortest road trips, but I’m so glad I could finish the travels I’d started last spring.

My 4Runner did fantastic this year….no issues.  No one loves their vehicle like I do mine!

I drove 3,100 miles in the 15 days I was gone.

I took over 900 photos!

Crazy campfire…Talie & I had a campfire everynight…it was great.  Except for one night…it was popping & going crazy & catching both of us, our chairs, clothes & shoes on fire.  It was nuts!  I ended up with 2 holes in my new camp chair, 5 holes in my fleece camp pants, 3 blisters where the pants burned through to my skin.  The same night we smelled rubber burning…we both did, but couldn’t find what it was.  After I got home & as I unpacked & cleaned up all my gear, I was polishing my boots.  There is  a noticeable chunk melted out of the sole….geesh!  Neither one of us know why that’s night fire was any different than the rest; except that I was popping up & down, smoking, jumping all around, swatting my burning pants & feeling the sting…super crazy.

One last thing…on one of my hikes in Crested Butte, I was thinking about why I travel, hike, plan, eat & seem to do everything as fast as I can. I confessed to Talie during one of our many fireside chats, that I’ve always (& still do more than ever) felt an urgency to do things.  

Urgency.  Uncertainty.  

I feel like these are the words that best describe how I feel about life in my mid-60’s.
 Life is moving fast.
Everything is so unknown.

But, having said that, I’m not sure that the realization or feeling really makes any difference. I’m sure I’ll just keep doing what I do in the way I do it.  I love this kind of road life -- practically living outside, exploring so many new places, capturing beauty in the camera, & meeting so many fantastic like minded travelers who become friends along the way.

I always feel fortunate, grateful, & lucky.  And, I never want it to stop.

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