Sunday, July 27, 2014

The First Four Days

Hi, Welcome to my Blog, thanks for taking an interest, I'm Craig, I'm 28 and from a small town called Mokena, in Illinois. 4 days ago I just packed up my bags and started driving West, I can't say that everything has gone to plan, but so far even with out a plan and all of the things that have stood in my way.

Note: Pictures are on their way.


The day started off pretty normal, I had basically nothing to do except for a bunch of things I didn't want to do, an in the midst of doing them I was suddenly packing my bags and filling my car. I thought I would wuss out at any minute but that was thankfully not the case, I got in my car and drove until the sun went down, no one really know where I am or what I am doing and I gain some peace in that.

Telling my mom went about how I expected, I am glad my grandparents took it better. I would rather leave while I still care about the people in my life, go do something wild and crazy so that when I come back I am a little bit more ready to be someone else. But I don't want to be anyone else, I like who I am when I am on an adventure, and I like even better when I am the only caretaker of myself. Its freeing to have no real destination, to just go where the road leads, or stop when you see a sign for a cool thing that no one else would probably want to go to. I stopped at the Blackhawk museum when I saw it, that's my kind of place to go, I learned a lot even though I didn't go all the way in cause I forgot my wallet in the car, in any case it was pretty cool.

I had no idea that wind power was so big out this way, I am in Nebraska right now but ever since Iowa I have seen wind turbines everywhere, which I think is just fantastic. What ever prick is more concerned with his view than the environment can go fuck him or herself, I think they look cool, they look like a brighter future.

Tomorrow I will likely make it to Colorado, I am excited to see it, I miss the mountains and have always wanted to go here. I hear Fort Collins is my kind of place, I shall see. Colorado is just the beginning, I am not sure where I am going to go from there, I was thinking of traveling through the state and checking out all of the towns and cities while I am there, but who knows? I may just continue on to Cali. There are no plans for this trip, I am going to see what happens, wish me luck.

7/25/2014 (written 7/27/2014)

Woke up this morning with a back that feels about how you would expect after sleeping in the trunk of my car, there was a lot of driving to do so I got back on the road at 5:30AM, surprisingly rest stops have a whole lot of people sleeping in them at night, I woke up in the middle of a full parking lot, even though it was empty when I had arrived. This morning I was on a mission though, I knew I wanted to hit Ft Collins Colorado, my brother Brian had told me over and over that this is the town that I should visit because it is filled with young creative types like myself, so off I went.

An odd thing happens as you travel along I-80 going through Idaho and Nebraska and Wyoming, the rest stops start getting worse and less common, not that there was anything wrong with any of them, in fact they were all quite acceptable, in Idaho all of them have free Wifi, and in Nebraska they had them about once every 30 miles, but once you get to Wyoming you have a long way to go to find any sort of real habitation, but that's an excellent foreground for the mountain backdrop that was slowly making its way into the landscape a stone at a time.

Then I got into Ft. Collins, it was a pretty cool place, filled with tourists, I got out an walked around but nothing really called out to me at the time, later in my trip people had told me where I should go in Ft. Collins so I think I will have to go back and give it another shot. So I left and went to an even more touristic town, Boulder, but on my way there my car broke down and would only work a few minutes before it would die again, not surprising considering by now I have driven over 1000 miles. I stopped in a town called Loveland and brought my car to a mechanic, well this guy was my second choice and I went with him even though he wasn't AAA approved.... BIG MISTAKE, for the love of god, find a AAA approved place to bring your car. This guy started telling me I had to change my fuel pump and that it was going to be $900 just for the part, which wouldn't be there by Wednesday, so I got out of there and called up a AAA shop and he told me he could fix the whole thing for $700, so I brought my car elsewhere to get away from a scumbag mechanic. This other place was really nice but said they couldn't get the part till Monday, but he told me that my fuel pump is overheating so I would have to stop the car every hour or so and let it cool off, he ordered the part, and I left with my car that can only drive an hour before it shuts off and I have to let it sit.

Back to Boulder, I actually made it, it was a bit nerve wracking, but I got there, and my Mom in her infinite motherly nature got me a hotel room cause she "didn't want me sleeping in my car", that was my plan after all. This was the only hotel in any of the towns, except for the first one I went to but that place looked like it was filled with meth so I got the hell out of there, but this other hotel I went to was beautiful, it had a great view of the mountains and all of the walls were painted wild colors, basically it was made for hippies, heck they were even a zero waste facility, but it was really nice.

The ladies at the front desk told me about this place called Pearl Street, basically its this 6 block chunk of road in the middle of downtown boulder and its all the tourists and wandering hippies who are there, and it has a really great sense of community. Everyone in Colorado is a transplant, they all came from some other state simply because they just love the view or the people or both, and I can't say that I blame them. Down the entire street are performers of all kinds, jugglers, musicians, acrobats, it was really amazing, there was even this guy who told me what town I was from based on my zip code, he also did this for the entire rest of the crowd of about 50 people, he was called "The Zip Code Man", I was impressed. I just walked around pearl street for a few hours, sitting down to talk to all sorts of people when I felt compelled to do so. I was carrying my guitar as I went and I stopped and jammed with some homeless guys, then I walked up the street and went into a sushi bar where I made another friend, we chatted a bit and then we started playing guitar right there in the bar, and not only did no one mind, but the bartender came up and played my guitar too. I had one beer that night, I am kind of a lightweight now since I mostly stopped drinking a year ago, so after the one beer I had and that long day I was done, so I went back to my room and went to sleep after a very successful day.

7/26/2014 (7/27/2014)

When I got up I was kind of hit with a sort of dread, like I had made it to where I had planned on going and now I have to make some sort of choice, maybe go home, maybe stay in Boulder, maybe go somewhere else, but I am a wanderer, so I had to get out of Boulder, it was a great place but it wasn't the experience that I was looking for, I wanted to have an adventure. I started looking on the internet for things to do in Colorado, and once I saw horseback riding I knew what I wanted to do and I wanted to do it right then, I made a couple of calls and found this really nice Ranch, and the price was very reasonable and nothing even came close so I got something called "The Dude" Package, which gives me 3 days where I get to ride a few times and they give me 3 meals a day and a room to sleep in, its actually very nice. So it took a little doing, but I managed to get a room that I could check into at 4:00 the same day, back to the road I went.

Now Lyons wasn't so far away from Boulder, well that would have been true if the road through the super high mountains had not been out, so I had to take the long way up rather than going around, so what was supposed to be a half hour drive turned into an hour drive, up hill the entire way. I was going through this really nothing town when the car died again, I was not at all surprised, luckily I was in the best spot I could have broken down on that mountain, I pulled into the tiny town called Ward. I had never seen a town quite like this before, it had random cars laying all over the place and some of the fences were made out of a combination of gnarled branches and hockey sticks, and it was definitely a place where bikes go to die because there were hundreds of them just laying all over the place, this place looked trashed and there was only 1 store in the entire town and this is where I was gonna have to wait for 2 hours while my car cooled down.

Even though this place was infinitesimal there was an array of tourists and bicyclers and locals coming and going constantly they were all from somewhere else, many of them transplants into Colorado. The bicyclers were doing this 104 mile ride where they went up and down the mountains for 8 hours, I couldn't imagine doing that, its pretty intense. I chatted up a few other people who had broken down but I started to get bored so I wandered around this town with my guitar and just played and looked around. Tiny houses cobbled together from the remains of much older houses dotted the mountains with nothing but winding dirt roads to connect them, the forest obscured most of the town and not until I started walking down the back-roads did I start to sense there was a lot more to this town than meets the eye.

I went back to the shop to sit down and this guy showed up with a dog and we just started talking, he had come from Texas and just decided to leave one day and live in the mountains, so he moved to Ward where he could do what ever he wanted and live free in the mountains, I gathered that he lived with other people who took him in and they mostly lived off the land, it seemed like he was a bit homesick though, but I don't think he regretted leaving his home. He told me all about Ward, that there is a well that supposedly cures cancer and that it was supposed to be the capital of the U.S. a few times, now I am not sure how much of that I am willing to believe, but damn it was entertaining. When he had to go it was finally time for my car to start working again but honestly I wanted to stay in this little town for a while, there is something so pure about how it is out here, this is no pretense, people just do as they please and are generally very nice about it.

The place I had to get to was actually so far downhill that I could have probably made it with my car not running, thankfully the car ran just fine and I got to the Ranch just in time to check in. This place is much larger than it seems. There are probably 2 dozen cabins all through the woods and the main house is basically a hotel, with a pool and hot tub, I got this little room that has a sink next to the bed and the bathroom is 6x3, I actually like it, I think that if I had a sink next to my bed I would have less dirty dishes in my room.

Today there is this huge wedding, here, probably 80 people, and they were having their reception at the main house, the place where I am staying, so the dining room turned into their dining room leaving me eating at a table for 1 in the study. I was in luck though, this family of 8 was here celebrating the birthday of the people in their family that ended in a 0, and they invited me to their table and started talking to me and were so very kind to me, its amazing how generous some people are with the people around them, it really made me love this state even more. So I basically joined this family, and was seated with them for the remainder of their stay here I might add, more on that later.

So this wedding was finally winding down, they had taken all of the stuff inside so I was able to go back to the outside sitting area without disrupting their party. I was walking around outside and ran into these two guys, they were wedding guests so I stuck up a conversation with them, one of them insisted that I have a beer, so of course, so as not to be rude, I had one, or two, well maybe a few more than that by the end. These guys were hilarious, one of them was trying to hit on a girl while the other one was giving him bad advice based on his college glory days, it was a recipe made to fail but it was so much fun to watch. I didn't want to be rude so I introduced myself to the groom and he invited me to join his party. It was really win all around, so I guess I may have crashed a wedding party, first time for everything I suppose.


Ow did my head hurt that morning, and I may or may not have offended the best man and probably almost gotten into a first, but I made it out just fine, and now I was going to get to ride my first horse, but first... some Ibuprofen, much better. I sat with that family again, the hotel now had a sign that said both of our names, so I guess it was official, we were a party, they were so nice to me, it was really amazing.

Now I haven't rode a horse in probably 13 years, but I knew that I wanted to get as much riding in as they would possibly let me, so I signed up for 2 hours the first time out, and boy does it come back. I hit a few snags at first but then suddenly I was back in the saddle and it was easy as ever, although my butt my disagree. I knew I wanted to go again so I immediately signed up for another 2 hour and then a 4 hour for tomorrow, I am pretty excited for the 4 hour. I didn't have to go with any group, it was just me and the wrangler for 2 hours, 4 because I went out twice, and it was some really amazing conversation, it feels like this place is somehow personally tailored to me because of how in sync I feel with the setting and the people. By the time I was done my buns were cooked, tomorrow is gonna be hard.

I had lunch with the family again somewhere in between and they invited me to their birthday party and even gave me a party favor it was really so kind of them, I was "adopted" by them and they let me in on their family experience, showed me pictures of their dogs and told me about their families, it was really a genuine moment. They were all very educated too, all with masters and phd's it was really impressive, they were very humble about it though, the people out here really are pretty fantastic. I even played ping pong with them.

Once they left I was kind of on my own, the wedding party is gone and there is literally no one still in the same building with me, including staff, its just me trying away at a keyboard in a oversized room in a building that no one else is in, kind of depressing given how much activity I had had recently but I guess all highs must be followed by lows, at least I get the chance to finally do this blog, I feel like I get a lot out of it when I write down what happened to me, its almost a diary, but anyone is welcome to read it. Now its time for bed.

To Be Continued.

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