Here I am. Driving by myself once again. This time the journey is about 330 miles and roughly six hours. I’m several hours outside Denver and just finished a quick pit stop at Elevation Brewing Company for a burrito and a brew. I’m barreling down two lane highways seeing a car every 15-20 miles or so. Every now and then I’ll hit a steep incline with 180 degree switchbacks to keep inching upwards over the mountains I’m trying to conquer to reach Durango, Colorado for Ska’s 20th anniversary party.
I’m basically hauling ass around turns like a NASCAR driver with a deathwish. I’m going 65 in 4th gear burning fuel like a guy lighting his farts on fire. But I’m getting results climbing up that mountain. Slowly but surely. Getting closer and closer to my endgame. My CD player went out miles and miles ago. After leaving Elevation, I couldn’t stand the sounds, or lack thereof, anymore. I can’t take my own thoughts that long, it’s just unacceptable.
I switch on the radio and the first station I find that can actually hold a signal is fucking chamber music. So here I am whipping around turns roughly 20 mph faster than I should in the Blue Beast, listening to the soothing sounds of chamber music. Howling in my ear. Not even howling, whining. This is the worst thing I’ve ever listened to in my life, but I won’t change the channel. Once you make a decision, you stick with it. It’s like, a rule or something.
I’m having a hard time not marveling at the mountains around me. I’m not sure if I’m still in the Rockies or have finally entered the San Juans, but with the clouds in the sky and the shadows on the mountains, it’s pretty fucking majestic.
I know there are a lot more miles between me and my destination. I can’t lose sight of my goal. I can’t lose sight of Durango.
This old fuck passed me while we were going up over one of the passes. I tried to pass him later on during a straight stretch and he really didn’t want to let me be in front of him. I end up right on his tail. Not out of road rage, but because he’s not going the speed I’ve been maintaining. We’re going 70 mph on a two-lane backass highway. Bumper to bumper. Plowing, just plowing through the fucking world like there’s six inches of snow on the ground and we have the only plow. That’s the plow I’m talking about. It’s very much a metaphorical, not physical plow. But plow is the word I’m choosing to use. I can’t stress that enough. Plow.
Eventually me and this old guy just start passing people at the same time. He’s very cautious, which I respect, and we continue to overtake slower traffic. I’m amused to see we pick up another driver in our little pack. We’re overtaking people like it’s nobody’s business along 285. It’s a way of life now. We’re car passing people. The classical radio station is rising and swelling with our speeds and it seemed almost thematic to how we’re driving along this long fucking straight stretch of road. Barreling south like the settlers going west if they had turbocharged horses and rocket powered wagons hurling them to Willamette Valley like NASA space ships.
The mountains all around me are absolutely beautiful standing out against the skyline. As a man who grew up around very large lakes, it’s hard to compare the awe of a body of water with no visible bank on the other side, all while knowing there is another state within your own country a mere 60-100 miles across, to that of gigantic titan mountains. Diving through these mountains and staring at such wondrous formations makes me even more appreciative of the unbelievable violence that was their genesis. Think about it. Two huge tectonic plates crushed into one another over the course of some amount of time forcing thousands of feet of earth basically straight up. Poof. There they were and here we are eons later marveling as if they’re part of the landscape.
They’re not just part of the landscape. They are part of an incredibly tumultuous past that none of us will never know, see or possibly comprehend. Actually, there are fewer things on this Earth I want more than to go back and witness the violence, anarchy and chaos that birthed these amazing formations bringing me so much joy. To know such joy of mine comes from chaos drives me to wonder what exactly drives me overall? Chaos? Beauty? A combo of the two? They can be very much intertwined in the ways of the world. Enough pontificating.
Plenty miles still stand between me and my destination. I can’t lose sight of my goal. I can’t lose sight of Durango.
Fatigue starts to set in. The miles and hours are racking up, and I’m back to no radio. The chamber and classical music was putting me to sleep. I went to go around a car, dropping the Beast into 4th gear and rocketing ahead of him only to realize ¾ through my pass someone in oncoming traffic is a lot closer than I thought. As they inched closer and closer, which I can only imagine is actually tens of feet per second, I started to wonder if this was the one.
It happens all the time; you miscalculate a simple distance and then you find yourself in a conundrum. A pickle, if you will. It happened once when I was 17 and here I am again years later. Luckily, I kept my wits about me and turned my head calmly to see the front bumper of the car next to me just pass. I glide back into my original lane. Who knows who was hitting who’s brakes, but it most certainly wasn’t me. I was mashing the everloving fuck out of my accelerator. Needless to say, my heart rate spiked temporarily and reminded me about my goal. I have to get to Durango. I must get to Ska. I must not die.
However, that experience made me a little squeamish. Any inkling of a notion of a vehicle in the oncoming lane made me back off a pass. I’m not complaining, mind you, since that is the proper way to operate a motor vehicle, but I was getting stuck behind some really slow people. I flipped the radio back on. No chamber music this time. Instead, I stumbled onto a Native American drum and chanting station. I shit you not because I don’t have the time and energy to make shit up anymore. I listened for a good while.
Finally, I had a chance to pass the pack holding me back and I dropped the Beast a gear or two, smashed the Go pedal and made a clean pass. No problems. No increased pulse. Just needed to get that confidence back. Game on.
The miles between me and my destination are quickly dwindling. I can see my goal. I can see Durango.