160 Reprise — 2 Year Anniversary

Silence is pretty rare on my street which just happens to be US 160, a highway that goes from the Navajo town of Tuba City, AZ or “Holy Cow, this is the last Denny’s for thousands of miles!” through “We ARE in Kansas, Toto. Where’s Auntie Em?” all the way to Missouri. Look on the map. It’ll show you.

It’s 4000+ (damned sexdaily) 1400+ miles…


I have been on or near the 160 nearly every day since September 20, 2014, when I arrived in Colorado to stay.

The noise is seasonal. It picks up around Memorial Day when the summer people from Texas drag their giant 5th wheels or pilot their humungous motorhomes up into the mountains above Creede. They leave behind dollars and the tendency of people who live up there to say, “Y’all.” The noise begins to die down a week or two before Labor Day. On snowy winter mornings it gets very close to silent. Even the sound of the most dauntless semi-truck is muffled by those flakes of holy white cold.

In Tuba City, where I arrived exhausted on September 20, 2014, at about 8 am, I stopped at Denny’s to use the restroom and I ordered a milk shake. It was my first inkling of the sweetness of the life that lay ahead. I emerged from the lady’s room and a young Navajo woman in a Denny’s uniform was waiting with my shake. “Here you go. You look so tired. Are you sure you want it to go?”

“My dogs are in the car, and I have a long ways to go.”

“Take care of yourself. Drive carefully.”

I went through Kayenta and looked off into the distance and wondered why SOME of the formations were “Monument Valley” and others weren’t. Who decided? I saw Shiprock in the distance, but that was not the direction I would take. That day I drove through a tiny bit of New Mexico before entering Colorado. I saw wild horses running along beside the highway through the gorgeous wild landscape of the high desert.

I was very excited when I reached the “Welcome to Colorful Colorado” sign — though at that particular entry point, in late September, Colorado isn’t very colorful


Welcome Sign in the Four Corners Area

The first Colorado “city” is Cortez and from there I passed Mesa Verde, Mancos, Durango, Pagosa Springs, climbed and dropped over Wolf Creek Pass and down into South Fork which was where I stopped and stayed for a month.


South Fork, CO Rio Grande and Fall Trees

Old cars are popular where I live and if there is an old car show in any place in the San Luis Valley, I get to see them all in action as they are driven past my house. This is also low-rider land and I get to see them, too. This time of year trucks loaded with potatoes pass in both directions, which is strange. Why don’t they stay where they are instead of doing this potato exchange?

The loudest of all are snowplows, but it’s a sound I find comforting, especially in the night. My first winter here, when I heard my first snowplow scrape the highway, I thought, “I’m home.”

That’s not a Southern California sound.


Snowplow on a Pass — I don’t know which one.





6 thoughts on “160 Reprise — 2 Year Anniversary

  1. I live in the biggest town in Vermont, under 50,000 even when all the students are here. The sound of the snowplow will be welcome this year after our El Nino non-intrusive last year. We sometimes wonder if the days of long cold winters with plentiful snow are behind us, but I have faith in the polar vortex to keep us cold for another decade or two.

    Like you, I returned north after retirement, and was driven by my nephew, with three crying cats in the backseat, through torrential rains, missing many of the sights that should have warmed my soul. The Taconic mountains in southern Vermont were at best a deeper shadow to the east. Lake Champlain was simply a wetter patch to the west. Little did I know that I was returning to a state that would, within weeks, be buffeted by tropical storm Irene, no longer a hurricane but deadly nonetheless.

    The state I love is being changed by our climate crisis, but I will be gone before the maples, for which I am glad.

    • Lake Champlain — that’s a romantic name, to me. It evokes early history classes in elementary school and feelings I had when I first learned about those people and that place. I think I’d like Vermont.

      I feel as you do about the climate change thing. Like a lot of stuff in our world, I don’t understand why people argue about its existence instead of channeling that energy into something productive. I think simply, “What if?” should be persuasive enough. I think people should think, “Yeah, what if? That would be awful.” OH WELL. So far no one has asked me to run the world… 😉

  2. We’re entering the glory days for this region, but I’m just seeing a few yellow tips on the leaves today for the first time. It’s going to do what it always does … make a sudden overnight leap from summer to autumn, usually with the first hard frost.

    NO idea what winter will bring. Last winter wasn’t much of a winter, but the two or three before it were historic. Twelve feet of snow is really a LOT, even if you like the stuff. We shall see.

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