road trip

Sometimes life is like the drive I took recently on my way home from Santa Fe to Cody. It's 775 miles from place to place, and no, I don't make the whole drive in one day. I left Santa Fe on one of those glorious late fall days in the high desert of northern New Mexico, with warm sun melting the night's frost off the silvered leaves of the rabbitbrush and big sagebrush, and the piñon pine and juniper needles crisp against blue sky. 

I didn't blog last weekend because I was in western Washington with my family. It's so rare that the whole Tweit clan can gather (only Molly was missing) that I wanted to soak up every moment. Even my middle niece, Sienna, and her husband and kids were there from Germany, where Matt is on detail with the Army Corps of Engineers. I haven't seen them in three years! 

I'm pretty sure that Red sighed with relief when I backed her into the garage late Thursday afternoon, home again after going 4,680 miles in the previous three weeks. (And five of those days we didn't drive anywhere. That's an average of 275 miles per driving day, which doesn't sound too bad until you add it all up!) 

The drive home from my working weekend in New Mexico was a little more exciting than my windshield time usually is, in part because of long stretches of road construction and drivers who behaved like they had never seen orange barrels before and either drove VERY slowly down the middle of the two-lane highway so to avoid those scary edges, or drove VERY fast, weaving around the other traffic. 

Saturday morning, I packed my gear in Red, my pickup, and hit the road for a marathon field trip to the shale mesas of far western Colorado to see a once-in-a-lifetime spectacular display of spring wildflowers. I left town at a few minutes after nine in the morning, and backed Red into the garage at just after seven-thirty that night; in between I drove 458 miles and spent several hours wandering back roads ogling so many thousands upon thousands of wildflowers that I was almost jaded by the time I headed home.


Yesterday afternoon as I drove the four-and-a-half hours home from Santa Fe and the Hillerman Writing Conference, I said to myself, "It's Sunday. You need to write a blog post."



After driving 4,652 miles in the past three weeks, through six states, plus presenting at two writing conferences, and spending time in three national parks, two national wildlife refuges, and I forget how many state parks and natural areas, and hunkering down for two very productive writing days in a little town within sight of the Pacific Ocean, I am home again.




Last Thursday morning, I drove out of Salida in Red, aimed 572 miles south for Silver City to speak at the Southwest Festival of the Written Word.



On Wednesday morning, I woke at Jackson Lake Lodge in Northwest Wyoming to gray and gloomy light. The temperature outside was 39 degreesF and the patter of rain on the roof included an odd shushing sound. I looked outside and saw that the rain was mixed with wet flakes--snow. 



Tonight I'm in Gardiner, Montana, just outside the north entrance of Yellowstone National Park, about 800 miles from home. At this time of year, the elk wander right into town--no matter traffic and people--to graze on Gardiner's well-watered lawns. I spotted these two cows and a calf-of-the-year a few minutes ago as I walked to the grocery store.