Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The last day - coming home

I started to throw the last day into a "Joe" post, but as I was writing it, I decided it needed a post of its own.

My last day of the trip, riding into Colorado, was the best day of the trip. I wanted to come back through the mountains, so I crossed into New Mexico and over Raton Pass. I missed the exit I wanted to take, but getting off in Colorado City and taking 165 up through the San Isabel National Forest turned out to be spectacular. The weather was perfect. The sky was the most intense blue and the greens of the grasses and brush were more lush than I'd ever seen. I blew by Bishop Castle, wondering why all the cars were there. I caught a glimpse of the structure, pulled a u-turn, and went back. I won't go into the details of Bishop Castle here, but know that if you live in Colorado, you must visit. If you're passing through and it's a reasonable detour for you, you really should go. Be forewarned - if you aren't afraid of heights, you might be after climbing that bad boy.

I took the advice of the super-friendly and beautiful woman in the gift shop, and after continuing north on 165, I followed 96 west into Westcliffe. The view of the Sangre de Christo mountain range is wall-to-wall breathtaking. Westcliffe is a small artsy-fartsy town with several small restaurants and other neat places to spend money. Sitting at my little sidewalk cafe table, I decided to go straight home from there. I'd had a morning full of incredible Colorado beauty, and everything from here out I'd seen before. Reality was calling.

I went back across US 50 past Royal Gorge and into Canon City (I don't know how to make that little squiggly line over the "n"). Before I got to the gorge, I saw hints of a wild land fire ahead. It went from a hint to a full blown view of flames on the mountainside before too long. I stopped in the same turn off where I met Dowlin Mayfield of the Mean Street Riders two years prior and took a picture of the scene. I couldn't believe they were letting us pass on the road. The smoke was thick on the road. As I was working through the worst part, I was listening to "Interstate Love Song" by the Stone Temple Pilots: Breathing is the hardest thing to do... How appropriate.

There were more fires in the mountains on the way in to Canon City. I stopped at a gas station to fill up and get something to drink. While inside, I heard locals calling others and spreading the news of a possible evacuation. Ash was flying around outside. I decided it was time to get the heck out of Dodge. The rest of the ride home was I-25 to Route 52 north of Denver. I stopped and texted my neighbor to tell her I was almost home. I asked if she had food so I would know if I needed to stop and buy something for dinner on the way home. I was greeted with a freshly grilled t-bone upon arrival.

Unlike my last cross-county trip, I was glad to be home. Also unlike my last cross-country trip, I was thrilled to call this place my home. This trip was different from the last. I knew I'd never be able to duplicate the experience, so I didn't try. Nor did I have expectations of a life-changing adventure. My motive in heading out with little preparation and few comforts was to create a different experience that I'd treasure as much as the first one. I didn't see anything stunning and new this trip, until my last day in Colorado, just a few hours from home.

But it was life-changing. My trip back to Georgia put me in touch with some people who had things I needed to hear. That visit, together with the 20 year anniversary of my leaving and stumbling across an old motorcycle license plate, broke down a wall in my heart. I grieved over the loss of my son's father for the first time. Both the loss of his sanity, which eventually necessitated my leaving in order to save the lives of me and my son, and his death. It's amazing the feeling of relief I had while being so incredibly sad at the same time. And I cry again while writing this... Somehow, everything seems brighter and lighter.

On my first trip, I found God. This trip brought a recovery I never thought I'd get. Makes me wonder what the next trip will bring.


Patty said...

You never know what the next trip will bring - that's why we take them!

Anonymous said...

Great blog Abby,
Bishop Castle is something else isn't it, we don't go in any more but drive by a couple of time a year. Did you get a chance to talk to the guy who is making it? Strange dude to say the least.
Glad you made it home safely.

Vicki C said...

Hi Abby, I wish I would have met you today at #freefc. I'm going to make my hubby take me on this trip, sounds awesome. twitter - pixithere

Oz said...

Just found your blog. Isn't Bishops Castle amazing and the road to get there great. I visited the castle in 2006 and then again this year on July 23, just a few days after your visit. Mr. Bishop was there and he is quite a character.