Sunday, November 15, 2009

Write of Passage - Day 4

August 5, 2009: Steamboat Springs, CO to Battle Mountain, Nevada (664 miles)

"You know, the Wise Men also traveled west...
~Peter T., email of encouragement, sent August 2009

I was awakened at 2:00 a.m., by the sound of typing. The clicking noise was distinct even though I was submerged in total darkness. For a moment I couldn't remember where I was, but that wasn't the immediate question spark-knocking inside my brain. Instead, I was wondering....."What in the world is she doing texting at this hour?"
"Are you texting?"
"What are you doing?"
"Are you calling someone?"
"Then why are you awake?"
"I'm looking at a map Kwaku's son sent me."
"So you're on your computer."
"You're can you be looking at a map, if you're not on your computer?"
"What are you talking about?"
This was when it hit me.....Cote was talking in her sleep! I was having a full-blown argument with someone who wasn't even semi-awake. What threw me on the defense so quickly was her immediate response to the very first question (accusation?) I threw at her. Cote practically sat straight up in bed, and barked a clear, precise answer. I thought for sure she was trying to "hide" some kind of electronic activity under cover of darkness and blankets. For almost 30 seconds, she kept pace with me, answering every question I catapulted her way. And yet she was totally and completely oblivious to the entire exchange taking place.
Unfortunately, about the same time I realized she had been sleeping, Cote became fully awake. And in that moment, the only thing she remembered was me calling her a "liar." Which technically wasn't true.....I said she was ly-ing. I didn't say she was a li-ar. Which is a huge difference. But not at 2 am, it seems. Cote was ready to do battle, her honor was at stake. All I wanted to do was go back to sleep and put the whole misunderstanding behind us.
"I'm sorry, go back to sleep."
"No! You called me a liar."
"No, I didn't."
"Yes, you did."
"Cote, I heard a noise and I thought you were texting. But you were sleeping, and then talking in your sleep. So, just go back to bed."
"No! You called me a liar."
So begins Day 4 ......
Both of us eventually cooled down enough to fall back asleep, but the incident was far from being over. I knew it had only been postponed until morning light.
When the sun did break through the crack in our curtains, I got up and readied myself, letting Cote sleep a few extra minutes. I thought giving her this little "peace offering" would lift her mood and help smooth over our midnight mayhem. No such luck. When Cote crawled out from beneath the covers, I could tell she was still very much put out with me. What's more, given the nature of our "fake" argument, I think we both had to admit that a few unresolved "text-messaging/facebooking" issues still lingered between us.
I'll say one thing for small motel rooms.....there's no place to hide. We were forced to face each other over the next 20 minutes. We brushed past each other as we moved to brush our teeth. We exchanged silent glances while we silently packed our bags. Finally, it became just too much for the both of us. I don't remember who offered the olive branch first, but it was finally extended, accepted, and reciprocated. Cote and I sat down and talked about why we said what we said, why we felt what we felt, and how bizarre it was to have such disagreement in the middle of the night. By the time we were ready to check out, we were laughing at ourselves and each other. We were ready to move on.
And move on we did! We left Steamboat Springs by 9 am, (Mountain Time), and logged almost 700 miles before the end of the day! We skipped the jaunt north to catch the faster-moving I-80, and stayed instead on the lonely, quiet Highway 40. This back road was a long stretch of really not much. We saw some beautiful red foothills and a few very small towns, but really nothing more. It was rare for us to even meet another car.
We passed Hayden and Maybell, Elk Springs and Dinosaur (yes, that's right). Itty-bitty blips on the map that hardly registered any kind of arrival or departure. Cote and I stopped only once, somewhere out there in the middle of nowhere, to buy a stick of beef jerky and a frozen Snickers ice cream bar from a lone standing convenience store. We kept moving towards Salt Lake City and civilization. We didn't dismiss the passing landscape, though. Cote and I were still first-time explorers in all of this. We took note of every rock, tree, bush, and blue horizon. Even a desolate route such as Highway 40 held its own kind of beauty, hopes, possibilities. We were mindful not to take a single mile for granted.
Around 1:00 we passed a sign for Park City, Utah. Having been to this little storybook town myself several years ago, I made a quick decision to take the exit and take Cote. I told her about the quaint, mountainside village full of unique shops and one-of-a-kind boutiques. It would be fun to check out together, and it would do us good to stretch our legs and get some fresh air. We pulled into town, and snagged one of the last available parking spots at the top of the hill. Opening our car doors, we were slammed by 100 degree heat, shocking our well air-conditioned bodies. Who was it again that thought we needed this air?
Despite the overwhelming temps, we decided to browse a bit. After passing a few store-fronts, however, it soon became obvious that we were not in the mood to shop. Something about all the excessive "materialization" in front of us contradicted the simple "rite of passage journey" taking place inside of us. Nevertheless, we looked through a few more windows, we stretched our road-weary legs.
We decided we couldn't resist one particular Native American Art/Jewelry store. The open doorway was warm and inviting, the pieces on display were utterly stunning. We stepped inside, taking in the beauty that surrounded us. An older, grey-haired gentleman (the owner?) stood oddly silent behind the counter, so Cote and I offered easy smiles as a way to introduce ourselves. His face didn't flinch an inch. A bit puzzled, (wasn't he happy to have company in the form of potential customers?)....we continued to browse the first floor of his establishment. It didn't take long to realize why his measure of welcome was so meager. The bracelet sparkling in the glass case I was leaning over cost $400. The picture that caught Cote's eye, was signed by the artist and price-tagged at $2,500. As we walked over to the stairwell leading up to the second floor, a large, hand-woven rug hung from the banister, with a price tag reading "$5,000" and sign next to it that said, "Do Not Touch."
Of course by then, we knew what the shopkeeper was thinking, and he was pretty much right. But without missing a beat, Cote and I raised a hidden eyebrow to each other, and let the games begin. We talked about how beautiful this item was, and how great that one would look in our living room. We moseyed upstairs, fingering trinkets left and right, and commenting on how extraordinary they were. We reached the top landing and turned to each other in disbelief and disgust by the owner's judgemental behavior. Yes, we were dressed in t-shirts and cargo shorts. No, we weren't going to buy anything here. But did we really deserve this type of treatment? Cote and I were just about to start verbally spewing our thoughts, when we heard his footsteps climbing the stairs below. What in the world??!!
He came to the top of the landing, crossed his arms over his chest, and spoke not a word. He didn't have to. His body language said it all......"please leave." So we did. Not in a rush, but at our own sweet pace. We continued our pleasantries and headed casually back downstairs, drifting out the door. Once we were on the sidewalk, Cote and I let it rip! We tore this guy's attitude apart limb by limb. We unleashed the anger bottled up inside of us over his rudeness, and stomped across the street to Cows, a highly regarded ice cream shop. Nothing like some frozen dairy to cool down a couple of hot-tempered women! (To this day, we kick ourselves for not telling that man exactly what we thought of his behavior. Why didn't we, we wondered later. What were we afraid of?)
Thankfully, the salesgirl behind the counter at Cows was as sweet as the treat she was scooping up for us. She even complemented Cote on her "fork" bracelet*, finding it totally unique and different from anything she had ever seen. We told her she could make one herself, at a cost of less than a dollar, which was a much better deal then the prices being charged across the street. We thanked her for her hospitality, collected our cones, and headed for the car. Within minutes, we put this "storybook" town behind us, and had another chapter in our own book to write......this time entitled, "Be Careful How You Treat People...Or You Might Just Find Yourself Blogged."
From Park City, we drove straight through Salt Lake City, without even stopping. The expressway was crazy, the traffic intense. But the mountains were gorgeous in the full afternoon sun. I couldn't tear my eyes away from them, even when all that was left was their reflection in my rearview mirror. As the city faded away, we noticed dirt-crusted white stuff edging both sides of the highway. Salt. The beginning of the Great Salt Desert was upon us, only to be honest, Cote and I had no clue what we were in for. Mile after mile we drove on, as the white stuff began to spread farther and farther into the distance, and become whiter and whiter. We kept going, trying to focus most of our attention on the Nevada border and the Pacific Time Zone. (Where we would gain another hour of driving time). Nevertheless, the salt grew more and more intriguing to us. What did it feel like, we wondered? Was it hard? Compact? Or sprinkled and loose? If we stepped out on it, would our feet sink in, or would its coarseness scrape our soles? Finally, with only 20 miles left of Utah to travel, I turned to Cote and said, "Let's pull off at the next spot available, and see what this stuff's like for real."
Of course, Cote was more than ready. Right then, a "rest stop" came into view. Little did we know, however, that we were actually pulling into the Bonneville Salt Flats, the place famous for the world land-speed record runs.
The salt was amazing. Hard-packed, and rock-solid. The first thing we did was taste it, finding its flavor so
intense, our tongues curled on contact. Then we took our shoes off, and walked gingerly around on the vast sea of salt, the roughness of the surface prickling the bottoms of our feet. Finally, we tried to scoop some up to bring home with us, but that wasn't so easy. The salt was packed so tight, we had to use the metal cup from our thermos to scrape the top layer loose. We snapped some fun pictures of each other, wrote our names with the few rocks to be found, and then washed up and returned to the highway.
It was late afternoon, and we still had over 200 miles to go.
By nightfall, we had made it to Battle Mountain, Nevada, about 1/2 way across this state. It was only Wednesday, and it was crazy to think we'd been gone from home only four short days, and yet we'd traveled so far. I was getting excited about seeing the coast, and a bit nervous about climbing the trees. After spending yesterday in the Rockies, I realized how anxious I became every time Cote leaned over a guardrail for a better view or stepped to the very edge of a look-out point. How in the world was I going to handle watching her climb 200 feet up a tree? This dream of ours was drawing closer by the minute. Come Saturday there would be nothing left standing between us and making it come true. Now really wasn't the time to start questioning what we were about to do. But I couldn't help myself. Minuscules of self-doubt were creeping in. Was I being an irresponsible parent in this whole undertaking? Or was I helping my daughter to live fully, and to see beauty in the world, from different angles and new perspectives. I said a prayer that the answer would lie with the latter, and turned out the light...letting faith take over from there.

*Cote's fork bracelet is really made from a fork. She had it bent to fit around her wrist, and wears it with the tines facing on top. She wears it most every day, along with many other braided and beaded ones. It's actually very cool looking....

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Powerful Words

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable. ~Kahlil Gibran