Tea. Irish Breakfast. Hot.
I add a splash of almondmilk to my tea and settle down in the red armchair by the fireplace. It is early in the morning: after my mother has left for work, but long before I typically arise. My father is in and out of the garage, doing work. Bonnie, my mother's little five pound runt of a min pin, jumps into my lap and digs to get under the blanket draped over me. I let her curl up in my lap and ask my dad to bring my breakfast to me if he doesn't mind... a boiled egg and leftover fried chicken from my last Colorado supper. I don't want to get up, don't want to leave this warm puppy, my tea-drinking chair, my CO friends and family. But onward it is. Adventure. Unknown.
My car is already packed. I bid farewell to my father, Bonnie, and Clyde, and hop in. Grizzly Bear is buckled up in the passenger seat, holding my CDs--music and audiobooks for the trip--in his lap; a week's worth of food lies at his feet. I relinquish the garage door opener and drive away, leaving the door wide open for my dad to close later.
First stop is King Soopers for more toothpaste, which I ran out of this morning. I duck out quickly before anyone can recognize me. I buy a quart of oil and fill my tank with gas. Then, I'm off to Limon to hit I-70.
I've driven I-70 before. It's boring. I hate driving. I stop for gas and eat avocado on rice cakes and drink Izzes. At some point I listen to an audio production of Sleepy Hollow... I never knew that Ichabod Crane was such an utter dweeb. Or that the headless horseman only makes a singular appearance in the story. Hmm. I think I'll give this away now that I've heard it once.
I hardly pay attention to where I am until the western horizon behind me is an angry red gash between the earth and sky. I'm looking for a particular exit after Topeka... I find it and rattle down country roads in the fading orange light, looking for a free campsite by a lake in the dark. I miss a turn or two navigating toward it but am able to make U-turns in the dirt. The road fades to gravel, turns sharply right, and I'm there. It consists merely of parking, a sink-less toilet building, and fire circles scattered about the grounds. I have to set up my tent by the light of my headlights, as the sun has now sunk below the horizon. Darkness catches the white on my breath, holding it there.
Inside my tent I throw a flashlight, my phone, my sleeping mat, sleeping bag, and extra blankets. I buckle my fur-lined winter hat under my chin and huddle into the nest I've made (after locking my car and turning the lights off). I can't seem to keep my feet warm enough. Coyotes howl and bay and yip in the woods around me. I'm alone here. No one to pay for the privilege of sleeping cold in the frost. It is barely 6:30 PM and I settle in to sleep early because I've nothing better to do.
Of course I have to pee in the middle of the night. My feet are ice. I barely make it three yards from the tent and just pee there, in the grass, rather than trying to make it to the toilet building, where the doorknobs and toilet seats would bite me with cold. I try to wrap a liner around my feet when I shove myself back into my cocoon but it's too late for them... they're cold all night.
At least I'm free.
wed., Nov 6th. Colorado Springs, CO to Topeka, KS.