In 1999, Molly Wolf and I packed up the Ford Escort wagon and headed east from San Diego to spend Thanksgiving with my Aunt Martha in Denver.
Moly and I loved road trips. The drive east was beautiful, befitting late November in Southern California. It was before the span between San Diego and San Bernardino was full of bedroom communities. We turned right and headed over the pass to Las Vegas (which we ignored). We drove through beautiful Southern Utah all the way to Cedar City where we found a motel and went out for dinner. Molly and I both liked Colonel Chicken when we were on the road. We sat outside at the cold tables and shared chicken. It began to snow. Molly and I walked back to our motel in this beautiful stuff, stopping at a college where there is a replica of the Globe Theater and, outside it, a circle of sculptures of great writers. It was beautiful. The night was inky black, the snow fell all around us, and the writers seemed joined together in a literary conspiracy.
The next morning I learned that the Eisenhower Tunnel between us and Denver was closed, and it was unknown when it would open. Our gentle snowfall was a big storm in the Rockies.
That was our route, but Molly and I clearly weren’t going that way. We headed south, instead, backtracking a bit, and went through Zion down to Flagstaff and on the 40 to Albuquerque where we spent the night. The next morning we were up and out, heading north to family on I-25. As we dropped down Raton Pass into Colorado’s Western Slope (mountains to the left, the Great Plains to the Right) the Dixie Chicks started singing “Wide Open Spaces” and, of course, I cried. I was so glad to be back in Colorado.
It was a very important trip, something revealed a year or so after the journey. My Aunt Martha (80 years old) and I had a wonderful time together doing all the things we normally did. She loved my dog and so did her cat, Amiga. We ate Thanksgiving dinner in a Swiss restaurant. Another evening we cooked T-bones and fried potatoes (my Aunt’s favorite meal). We laughed and talked, shared confidences. I walked my dog around what is now Centennial but was then Littleton. Molly — Malamute and Aussie — loved the snow (of course). Then it was time to go. I packed up the Escort, said goodbye to my aunt and headed west. The snow was all melted by then. I-70 was not yet the crowded horror show it is now. We stopped at rest stops and dawdled our way back to Cedar City, but pressed on to St. George.
Then we were home.
So… I woke up this Thanksgiving morning thankful for that trip. My aunt got sick that winter, family sold the home that she loved so much, and she moved to Montana. In a year or so she would be in extended care. It was — though I didn’t know it that Thanksgiving — the last moment of that part of both of our lives.
I’m so grateful we had it. ❤