Endless summer, Wyoming, Colorado, grief, love, camping, road trip
…into Wyoming, highway up and down and around in rolling high arid steppe – lots of sage, scattered livestock, a few herds of antelope, into a fertile river valley with green fields, herds of livestock, the majestic mountains in the near distance, the Snowy Range coming into view, coming closer to Centennial, where Jean came deeper into herself.
|Jean’s work, 1970s|
Centennial, Wyoming. Population 270. Jean called the woman who bought her house 40 years ago to see if we could come by and walk past the house to the river. The woman told Jean that she was out of town, but the back door was unlocked, so we could just come on in. And we did. And we walked the 30-40 feet from the back door to the river running fast (we heard a big fish break water). Standing there in the cold rain in this place of tremendous growth for Jean.
|In the Snowy Range|
The highway (opened yesterday) up out of Centennial into the Snowy Mountains. I first saw these beautiful mountains about 1963 off in the distance on the way to somewhere in Wyoming with my friend, Renn Fenton***. I’ve seen them in the distance 5 or 6 times since; and now, driving into the mountains through pine trees dusted with snow and a little snow on the ground, now more, stopping the car down a smaller side road and getting out to be in the snow surrounded by trees with the snow too deep to walk in. Driving up and up with deep drifts on the side of the road and the snow coming down and at the top of the pass the snow is coming down sideways, stinging our faces – Yes!
The endless arching of this endless summer from Berkeley to Mendocino to Dallas to Santa Cruz to San Francisco to Vancouver to the golden afternoon of Big Sur to Marcia’s house to Indian Rock to The Temple to Flagging to the Edge of the World, to Yosemite (walking with faeries in the forest) to the beach the seashore the waterfront to La Honda to Esalen(!) to massage class to New York to Spain to our beautiful life in Berkeley to Colorado into Wyoming into the place where Jean became so much and arching across the beautiful Snowy Range! This isthe train. Here is a moment on a Mendocino beach that captures when the endless summer started.
|At the beginning of the Endless
Summer – Mendocino beach
From Saratoga, we drove north – first to Medicine Bow for breakfast with bikers (and not 50 year old divorced guy “bikers” with do-rags) – and onward to the Sheridan area to visit Jean’s friends, Katie and Hal for a few days. We hung out on their ranch, then drove up into the hills, parked, and walked along a dirt road lined with lupines. Hal forged ahead with the dogs (Dan and Marty) and Katie and Jean walked through the lupines and I wandered along in my own world. Lunch was at a café in Bighorn. After lunch we went to a “roping” – a cowboy Memorial Day get-together and a birthday party and so there we were, standing along the corral fence with the “headers” and “heelers” roping the steers and the other people sitting on their horses and a few along the fence.
|At the “boil” after roping
Memorial Day 2017
We talk of our spouses and the terrible grief. Driving up the highway across the Wyoming steppe and through the mountains, singing Grateful Dead and Beatles songs together – Here Comes the Sun! Such an emotional trip. Tears just beneath the surface… Attics of My Life – not about a person as much as self… attics = past – I laughed with delight.
|In the tent|
Onward back across this magnificent big sky country to Saratoga, where we stayed in Hacienda motel on the edge of this small town and drove five minutes to the municipal hot springs – free, sandy bottom, convivial scene. Back at the cowboy motel we rested then went to the Wolf Hotel for a prime rib dinner.
Continuing south we again camped, this time in the Vedauwoo area – we had a great campsite among the hoodoos. Our nearest neighbors were a hippie family on their way to the Rainbow Gathering in a great bus. The man and I were talking about an Incredible String Band song quote on the side of bus (“We love you, but Jesus loves you the best”) and he and I sang a few lines together. Later I recalled that I sang that song to Keo as she was dying last January.
In the morning we took off up Trail Ridge Road across the Rockies. It’s been more than 50 years since I was there and Jean had never made it across that pass at 12,183 feet. Wow! Surrounded by tundra and snowy peaks and the thin air and clear skies. Now over the pass toward Winter Park and then Golden to spend the night at Helen’s (and her dogs, Louie and Stella).
|Bear outside our cabin. Photo by Karen|
*** Renn Fenton and I lived together in a cabin in Estes Park and climbed in Estes and the Needles in South Dakota. While Jean and I were traveling in Wyoming and Colorado, I told her a little about Renn. When we got home I googled him. I discovered that he died in 2007. Here is something from an internet forum: “I am a travel nurse who has taken care of Renn while he was in the hospital. I wanted all of you to know that I have felt privileged to be one who got to spend time caring for Renn during his last days. It was clear to me the first time I laid eyes on Renn that he was quite a character – when I googled him, I found this site and saw a comment that made me want to respond. I was actually able to “break through” with Renn and get him to talk back to me and say my name. I will forever remember his vivid blue eyes and “cat that got the canary” smile. I just wanted all of his friends to know that there are several of his nurses who have appreciated Renn for being the kind of person who makes this world interesting and feel honored to have cared for your friend.”
|Renn’s country – Jean’s country – my country|