The travel day started with a two-and-a-half mile hike from my hotel to the shop where my car waited, along highway 40, past a hotel that advertised
and past a store with a sign that read:
IT IS TIME
It is time.
Not far past that, in a red-brick building, next to a clothing store that sold both suits and skate gear, the tinted plate-glass proudly displayed a two-foot-tall green glass bong with a skull leaning out to the side. Perhaps some of my preconceptions of rural Utah are out-of-date.
A turn on Vernal Ave took me north, where I met an elderly power-walker heading the other way. She and I agreed it was a fine morning for a walk.
Finally, my destination. The good folks at Rev’d Up Auto Service had tested all the various parts of my electrical system and everything was running according to spec. “We could replace the alternator anyway, but it’s testing just fine.”
The kicker: The closest alternator was a day away. I could wait in Vernal another day, or I could cross my fingers and forge ahead. Heck, there was no guarantee replacing the alternator would fix what was wrong anyway. I chose finger-crossing and drove on, hoping that at least I’d get fair warning from the battery light if the problem recurred.
Nevertheless, I kept the car in minimum-electric-demand configuration, foregoing gadgets and radio and keeping my fingers off the switches for the electric windows.
After 100 miles I started to relax. After 130 I started to curse. The battery light had returned. I sweated the next thirty miles into Steamboat Springs.
When I was on my big road trip eleven years ago, 160 miles was about ideal for a day of driving. (On this day eleven years ago I was at Pepper’s pub, in Creston, Canada; the last night I spent on Canadian soil.) Of course, the best parts of that trip were when I didn’t have a destination. A destination is the bane of a good journey. Now I really want to be somewhere. Kansas, where the Bunch is gathered.
This time the auto shop is only one and a half miles from my hotel, but the walk is far less interesting, and far less pedestrian-friendly. I chose a kinda-dumpy looking hotel, assuming it would be cheaper, and I was not in a position to pop from place to place comparing rates. The internet might have been helpful, but every second my car was running might have been its last, and stopping and restarting would kill the battery even faster.
I’m not looking forward to sleeping in that bed tonight, let’s just leave it at that.
One thing for Steamboat Springs, it is within the craft-beer zone anchored around Boulder, and this time I’m much closer to the cutsey little downtown. I am now in a place called the Tap Room, and it’s pretty nice.
There is a saying I learned from Tony Hillerman: When there is a drought, the Navajo pray for rain; the Hopi pray for harmony with the drought. I think it’s time for me to be Hopi, and find harmony with the journey. I will get there. In the meantime I will travel.