Thursday, June 30, 2016

Through the hourglass

"Try to remind myself that I was happy here
Before I knew that I could get on the plane and fly away."

Does anxiety have a color and an animal?

Because I like to know who or what I'm dancing with.

I'm home from a four-night trip to Colorado. Neil is there for 2 weeks, taking classes at Colorado College, so I joined him for the weekend and we went back to Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve.

Ever since the first time we went there a few years ago, I have wanted to go back and spend more time there.

Like almost everywhere we go on our travels, I wish we had more time there, even just one more day.


We stayed in the same place, the Great Sand Dunes Lodge, which by rights should be called the Great Sand Dunes motel, since there is nothing lodge-like about it.

It's just a row of about a dozen guest rooms, all facing the dunes to the west. It's privately owned by an East Asian family, who lives there and operates it during the half-year-long season, when it's not too cold and snowy. The rooms are utilitarian but nice and very clean.

Each room opens onto a shared but divided balcony, and I looked forward to sitting outside and enjoying the peace and the view of the dunefield, but mosquitos put the kibosh on that idea. The buggers also deterred us from taking a couple of hikes in the park and enjoying an outdoor ranger program. We had lots of fun anyway.

I landed in Colorado Springs on Wednesday evening. Neil's classes run Sunday through Wednesday, so he picked me up at the airport and we headed straight for Pueblo, where we spent the first night. After breakfast on Thursday, we went on to the park, stopping to check in at the lodge.

The weather was perfect and we crossed the dunefield and set out to climb the dunes. At altitude, climbing on sand, with a fair amount of wind, is hard hiking. About halfway up, I abandoned the goal of summiting High Dune and set a new goal, the crest of a dune less traveled. Of course, it's deceptive, you think the top is in sight but as you near it, you see that it goes on, climbing higher.


So we drew a line in the sand, so to speak, enjoyed the view for a while, and descended. Down is easier than up.


On Friday, we headed to the Zapata Falls Recreation Area, a few miles south of the park and 3 miles up an unpaved road. From the parking lot, it's a half-mile hike to South Zapata Creek, where snowmelt from the Sangre de Cristo Mountains flows to one of the rivers we visited recently, the Rio Grande. You have to hike upstream through chilly water to see the recessed 30-foot falls.



I trekked in with my Keens. Neil changed from sneakers to water shoes. If we had to start over, I'd have left my waist pack, with my iphone, in the car. The water was bracing, the rocks not especially slippery, but it's a head game and I didn't trust my balance. At one point I went down, getting the seat of my shorts wet, but I made a quick recovery, with only a slight muscle pull. Neil abandoned ship, decreeing that his water shoes were really shower shoes and not much good for walking on rocks.

I would have liked to have forged on, but the mosquitoes were out in numbers, so we decided to beat a retreat. Our neighbors at the lodge had discouraged us from trying to take some of the other area hikes due to biting bug density.

So we decided to drive to Taos. Another hundred miles on the road, each way. The scenery was beautiful, but I have the sense that we're spending too much of our little trips inside a vehicle. We don't seem to be able to relax, sit still and just be. But Taos has a cachet that appealed to both of us.

Taos was what I'd expected Santa Fe to be like, a more accessible artist's town, with lots of quirky shops. We spent a little time in a gem and mineral shop where a very eager employee kept pulling out specimens of unusual stones to show us. I asked her if there was a bead store in town and she highly recommended one, so we drove 3 miles to be mostly disappointed in a lot of overpriced lackluster stone beads.

After that we had our tradional travel pizza, another winner, and headed back to Great Sand Dunes. On Saturday morning we went back to the dunes and took a long walk along Medano Creek along the base of the dunes.


You will notice that I am carrying beads again. Yes, they will be donated to Beads of Courage.
No, this time I didn't post about their journey on social media. My heart just wasn't in it.

For no especially good reason, we decided to head back to Colorado Springs via Cañon City, a longer route, but apparently we love driving distances. By dumb luck, lunchtime found us in Salida, where we chanced on a great pancake place and found out it was the weekend of the annual art walk in the historic part of the city.


Since we routinely seem to miss local events by a day or two, we couldn't pass this one up. We drove downtown and pulled into a random parking space, I looked up, and there was a bead store. I kid you not. And it was a fabulous bead store with lots of gorgeaus Czech glass at good prices. So I got my bead fix after all.

Not only that, Neil recognized some landmarks and rememebered he'd gone out of his way to go to Salida a year earlier, while traveling between business trips, to have a pizza at a place recommended by a colleague. We drove by and it looked really nice but after pancakes there was no way.

We didn't even stop for coffee in Cañon City but went straight on to Colorado Springs. Neil checked in for his next week of classes, we went for a walk, had dinner at the college cafeteria and called it an early night, since I had a 6 am flight home on Sunday.

Zombie girl doesn't remember much of that flight but I landed in Houston before Neil had to be in class.

I've been home a couple of days now, and Neil will be home in a couple more. And I realized something. I don't think I'd be a lot lonelier in North Carolina than I've been here with Neil gone.

Which is to say that it's manageable.

I'm binge-watching Spiral, a french crime drama (yay, more subtitles), and re-watching season 2 of Endeavor. I went to the dentist, got my tires rotated and balanced, sold some beads on Facebook, went to the post office, picked up some things at Target, made a few beads, put together a bag of household stuff for recycling, have a massage appointment set up, and plan to bake a welcome-home cake for Neil.

I'm doing what I can to keep time with the blue butterfly. Or whatever the hell anxiety's color and animal are.


Two weeks away, feels like the whole world should've changed
But I'm home now and things still look the same
I think I'll leave it 'til tomorrow to unpack
Try to forget for one more night that I'm back in my flat
On the road where the cars never stop going through the night
To a life where I can't watch the sun set
I don't have time
I don't have time

Tomorrow's back to work and down to sanity
Should run a bath and then clear up the mess I made before I left here
Try to remind myself that I was happy here
Before I knew that I could get on the plane and fly away
From the road where the cars never stop going through the night
To a life where I can watch the sun set
And take my time
Take all our time

Two weeks away, all it takes to change and turn me around, I've fallen
I walked away and never said that I wanted to see you again

I've still got sand in my shoes
And I can't shake the thought of you
I should get on, forget you
But why would I want to
I know we said goodbye
Anything else would've been confused
But I wanna see you again.


(Dido)

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Thanks for your comment! I will post it as soon as I receive it. Liz