October 4, 2011

postcards from the road 10/4

Pikes Peak with cloud coverage as seen from Garden of the Gods.

Greetings from Denver!

I'm at the end of day two of my five-day trek across Colorado, Nebraska and Wyoming. I have already put more than 1,000 miles on the poor company vehicle I have on loan this week.

I used to travel a lot for work — about 10 days average every month — but this is my first long trip since July. I took on a new job in August, which kept me off the road. I move from place to place, usually hitting up two to four towns in a day, where I interview and photograph people for the articles I will write back at the office.

Though I like having more time at home, my gypsy soul is excited to spend a few days on the open road. I've been to a few of the locations I will travel this week, but I am seeing new places and faces.

Though living out of a suitcase can be hard, there are parts of it I love. These experiences give me a million story ideas. Maybe not a million, but several. Landscapes, buildings, signs and people all mesh in my head to form characters, settings, scenes and whole stories.

Actually, my first and only completed novel (which I recently demoted to a shelved work in progress), originated during a drive across Louisiana and developed on future trips to the Gulf Coast.

This trip has been no different. Though I don't have a specific story in mind, I'm taking tons of pictures and notes, because I know I want to set stories in some of these places I am seeing. I can also see characters developing in my mind based on the people I am meeting.

I did the bulk of that driving yesterday with more than 600 miles. I traveled across Nebraska and eastern Colorado, stopping briefly to visit a friend during my lunch break. I ended up in Trinidad, Colo., which is located in southeastern Colorado. It's a cute town where the desert turns into plateaus and foothills leading into the Rocky Mountains.

This morning, I worked in Trinidad before driving to La Junta, back to Trinidad and then on to Pueblo. I saw brush-covered plains turn into tree-covered mountains. Mountains amaze me. I love the feeling I have when I drive toward them on a flat plain. You can see it in the distance from miles away, and slowly but surely it grows larger and larger. When I see mountains or large bodies of water, such as the oceans, the Great Lakes or a major river, I am always struck with amazement. It's neat to see manmade structures and buildings, but these weren't created by people. They have slowly developed during millions of years.

Sometimes, I think about all of the people who have seen these natural wonders. I imagine how a pioneer felt the first time he or she came to a mountain, or all of the people and animals who have lived and died. See — so many stories.

After wrapping up my work for the day in Pueblo, I still needed to get to Denver, where I will begin my work day tomorrow.

A friend told me I should stop in Manitou Springs, located west of Colorado Springs, on my drive. I quickly realized that Manitou Springs was home to Garden of the Gods, a place I've wanted to visit for years. I then also remembered that Pikes Peak is right there, and I wanted to see it all.

Though I only took an hour to drive and make stops through Garden of the Gods, it was one of the most spectacular sights I have seen. If you have been there you know. If you haven't, it's hard to describe or show with pictures. It's hard to imagine how such beauty can exist in nature.

Form the Garden of the Gods, I also stopped to take a close look at Pikes Peak. Though it was cloudy and rainy, which made it hard to see, it was incredible to see the more than 14,000-foot tall mountain. Knowing it rose above where even the clouds are makes it almost impossibly big. Taking a few moments to sit and look at it in the light rain was the perfect way to finish my day, before making the hour drive to my hotel.

I'll provide more travel updates from this week, though probably less long-winded, and photos in hopes that they might spark your imagination, too.

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad you went to Manitou Springs and Garden of the Gods - great places! I went when I was little and had to revisit. If you had more time, I'd say go to Seven Falls too, which is close to Colorado Springs. They light it up at night which is awesome but I think it costs, unlike Garden of the Gods so that's a downside. It's not much but free stuff is always better. Can't wait to see more photos of the trip.