July 15th – The Storm

The night had been cold, and my pillow provided virtually no support whatsoever. After perhaps 6 hours of tossing and turning, with a little sleep thrown in for good measure, I gave up on getting any real rest, and pulled some warm clothes on. I was exhausted. I walked down to the river like usual, but I just couldn’t get a good mood going. By the time I made it back to the camp, Gianna was up, and by the grump on her face, it appeared she had not had any real rest either. I had a sinking feeling that we wouldn’t escape the morning without some sort of conflict. To make matters worse, as we dug through the bear safe, we discovered we were down to only two oatmeal packets, half our normal breakfast. We were very low on food overall.

We sat down at ate breakfast quietly. The last several days, Gianna had been pretty negative, complaining a lot, expressing doubt in our ability to complete the journey, discomfort with the unplanned free flowing nature of the trip. It was really starting to wear on me. When she started up with the negativity again that morning, and only halfway into my first cup of coffee, I really was not in the mood for it. I told her, probably very tersely, that if she couldn’t be positive, she should be quiet. I remember trying to explain I was in a bad mood already because I hadn’t slept well, and I was still hungry as breakfast had been tiny. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter. We got into quite a fight that lasted multiple hours, and delayed our leaving of the camp pretty substantially. By the time we were headed out, I was half ready to just drop her off at the airport on the way to Durango, and continue the journey alone. I’m trying to get Gianna to write about her memory of that day, because I seriously doubt it was as one-sided as I remember it. Maybe between the two of our accounts, truth could be found.

We rode off down the highway, winding aggressively through traffic. I was still really mad, and although I definitely shouldn’t have been operating the bike, I was. I sped whenever I got the chance, half just to feel the power of the engine, and half to scare Gianna, sitting behind me. We approached the turnoff for the airport, and I slowed down, actually considering unburdening myself of the emotional complexities of traveling with my partner. The light turned red, and I came to a stop. From the back Gianna begged me to at least sleep on it. That had a nice rational sound to it, and when the light turned green, I went straight on towards Durango, instead of turning left to go towards the airport.

Once we arrived in Durango, I stopped at a gas station to use my iPhone to try to find camping. I couldn’t get a response from a couple of them. There was a KOA, and their site advertised being motorcycle friendly, so we decided to give it a shot. I turned into the drive to be greeted by a steep gravel drive. The bike spun the back tire a little on the way up, but we made it to the top upright. We had hammocks, and had decided it was time to use them. Neither of us had slept well the night before, and we really didn’t want to sleep on the ground again. We walked into the office to find an elderly couple wearing bright yellow polo shirts. Kind of disgusting. This place did not seem like camping, it seemed like camp. Like a christian summer camp or something. I asked if there was a place to set up a hammock. They said no. Also there were no shade structures here. Also it was going to be $30. “Fuck this then.” I said and walked out. Fuck. This had been the only camping place we could make contact with. I tried the others again, and actually got through, only to find out it was the same there. I resigned myself to getting a hotel for the night, though I really wasn’t happy about it. Hotels were expensive, and camping was intended to be a cheap way for us to travel, though the campsites in Colorado appeared to not really be much cheaper than a cheap hotel anyways.

We got back on the bike to head back into town. As we came down the ramp, I braked lightly to avoid rolling into cross-traffic of the highway. As soon as I pressed down on the brakes, the bike slid out from under me, jutting sideways. The wheels had dug into the deep gravel and stopped spinning. Since bikes stay upright by the gyroscopic action of spinning wheels, the bike fell over rather suddenly. Fucking hell. This day just kept getting better. The bike is way too heavy for us to pick up with all of our stuff on it, so we unfastened all the bungee cords, and removed all the luggage. Thankfully my brand new saddle bag had remained intact. We managed to pick it back up, and I rolled it over to the side. Motorcycle friendly my ass, I mumbled to myself. “FUCK!” I screamed out to nobody in particular.

The day had been going bad, now it was really really bad. I needed to take out some frustration somehow. I glanced at the large propane tank in the center of the parking lot. Nah. Too much. I headed to the bathroom, and urinated all over the floor and counters. Fuck KOA. After defacing the bathroom, I got my gear back on, grumpily called Gianna back over, and tried again to roll the bike down the hill. I made a point of not braking at all on the gravel section of the driveway, and we managed to merge back into traffic uneventfully.

We headed into town, and I stopped at a hotel promising $54/night rooms. This turned out to be lies, and the room was actually $86. I was so tired and frustrated at this point that I just accepted it, and took the room key into hand. It had now been several days since we’d showered, and I was craving hot water and soap on my body like nobody’s business. Once we had unloaded the bike, I headed to the bathroom to shower. I grabbed the hot water handle, and it came right off the faucet. I swear, some days never end. It turned out to still be operable, just requiring intense focus and extraordinary care.

After we had showered, it was time for food. We were starving, still kind of struggling from an insufficient breakfast. There was an Italian place across the street. I love Italian food, so I was actually kind of excited to go pig out on pasta. We walked over, and despite the restaurant not being that full, were made to wait about 30 minutes before being seated. Once seated, we waited another 30 minutes before anyone came to even take our drink order, or given a menu. In this time we saw 2 other parties seated, and brought drinks and menus. In their defense, our water was kept full at all times. Eventually we were granted an audience with a waitress, and we ordered. As expected, it was a very long time before our food made it out At this point, I was so starving I was sure literally anything would be delicious. I was wrong. The “chicken parmigiana” that came out was inedible. It tasted like off-brand frozen dinners microwaved too long. And they wanted $16 for it. I asked to speak to a manager, and a pissed off guy in his 20s came out several minutes later. I told him I wasn’t willing to pay full price for the food, because it was literally the worst insult to Italian cuisine I’d ever seen in my life, and there was no way I could eat it. He sent out another check that had been discounted about $3. I called him back, saying this was in no way sufficient. I was about to offer to pay half the ticket, and just take it as a loss, but he cut me off and told me to get out of his restaurant and never come back. Elated, we got up, and walked outside. That’s about as good of an outcome as one could hope for in such a situation.

We stopped by a head shop, and stocked up on papers and blunt wraps before heading back to the hotel to use them. I was so frustrated at the course of the day, I was having trouble even thinking of what else to do for food. A couple joints later though, and the situation became much simpler.

Still completely starving, we decided to just go to Wendy’s, which was at this point one of the only places still open. It was only a couple blocks away so we decided to walk. When we got there, it turned out that only the drive-through was open. We went and got in line anyways, hoping somehow the drive-through intercom would still trigger for us. It did not. We managed to wave the car behind us up a little so we could order, and walked on towards the window. Somebody in a green Subaru in front of us invited us into their car so we could drive through the pick-up window at least. Based on the way he answered his phone while we were in the car, I suspect he was a weed dealer. Seemed friendly enough. He offered us a ride back to the hotel, and we accepted. Once back in the room, we devoured our Wendy’s like a honey badger on a cobra. In comparison to the filth we had been served earlier, it was tasty, healthy, filling and cheap. This is not at all to say it was any of those things compared to real food, except cheap. Still, we had succeeded in filling our bellies, and we could finally go to sleep and end the horror of the day. I was really getting sick of Colorado.

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