20190816 Hi, Mom! I’m home!

This is Day Two. Not much to say about Day One except nothing stinks quite like an Amarillo truck stop at 6am.

Today the fun started! The drive from Amarillo to Salida, Colorado was beautiful. It’s always the same: first the barren Texas plains and wind farms turn to cliffs and escarpments in Palo Duro and Caprock Canyon territory. Later the New Mexico foothills appear, then suddenly you’re in New Mexico! And just as suddenly, you’re not! The anticipation builds as the foothills grow into mountains, the slopes become forested, the air dries out and then, there it is! SNOW IN AUGUST! Quite a lot of it, actually. You can’t really drive to it, you have to walk up that far, but it’s there, lots more than the last couple of years. This year the burn bans are off due to the huge snowmelt, and since I’m camping in the national forest instead of the national park, I get to have campfires on the trail! First time in three years for that, and I can’t wait!

Watching the mountains loom gets me really in the mood! After listening to educational content for a few hours, I decide to crank up the iPod on random. As I’m driving down a twisty, deserted mountain road between Gardner and Salida, Harry Belafonte comes on singing John Henry. This is a number from an album my parents had, and I’ve known the words by heart as long as I can remember. Even as a little girl, this was my favorite part:

Polly Ann drove steel like a man,

Lord, Lord, Polly Ann drove steel like a man!

I guess I was born this way.

Alas, flatlanders shouldn’t belt out songs while driving at elevation before their lungs become acclimated. By the time John Henry laid down his hammer and he died, Lord, Lord, I thought I might too! My vision dimmed and I got light-headed. Ok, Terry, stop singing and breathe. Lesson learned.

I had a great dinner of very authentic gumbo, fried oysters and beignets at The Lost Cajun Restaurant. My last meal. Tomorrow I sleep in the dirt on the banks of the Taylor River. Well, not exactly in the dirt since I’m a hammock camper now, but you know what I mean. After this it’s freeze dried goo for a week. YUM!

I’m not the type to post pictures of my dinner, but this little lagniappe deserves applause. Before you order they bring you a flight of gumbo to taste before you decide. After a few bites with a spoon I just started shooting them like tequila.

Salida is a lovely little town. I could live here.

After all, they have gumbo shots.

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