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Colorado – We land in Denver

Thursday afternoon after wrapping up all our loose ends, we got a ride to the airport for a 6:00 pm flight to Denver.  Unfortunately,  we got a call that the flight was going to be one and a half hours late. Fortunately, we ran into Nancy Coplin, who books the entertainment at Austin’s airport (as I’ve described in the post about WIMPS), so we had something to do with the time spent waiting.  And finally, Southwest came up with a plane and we were off.

Once in Denver, after an uneventful flight (my favorite kind) we picked up our rent car and drove to the south of Denver to our hotel. The temperature was about 30 degrees cooler than Texas had been, and we were jubilant about that, since Texas hit triple digits that day. It was 10:00 pm at this point, so we drove down the road to find a grocery store and bought something more substantial than peanuts — which is what Southwest Airlines has always served — and a bottle of Irish whiskey, and then we ate, drank and went to sleep.

The next day, we went to visit a friend who is the head engineer at the Public Radio station in Denver, KUVO. Mike showed us around the building, and even took us up to the roof to look at the incredible array of satellite dishes up there, the product of much grant-writing and detailed planning on his part. Afterwards, we joined Mike and his wife, Teresa, and their 12-year-old son for dinner at an excellent restaurant and then we all had drinks to see the evening out (except for me, because I was driving).

The next morning, we left for the Western Slopes of the Rocky Mountains.

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O-(M.G. That's the biggest sky I ever saw!)klahoma

 

You know you're in Oklahoma cuz this casino is illegal in Texas (so far).

You know you're in Oklahoma cuz this casino would be illegal in Texas (so far).

When I first moved to Austin, I drove from New York City to Texas through Oklahoma on the way, pretty much the same route I just took driving home from Kansas yesterday. I clearly remember getting so tired of driving that I pulled into a farmer’s driveway in Arkansas and went to sleep, putting a note in the window to wake me if I was in the way. Which he did, with a bemused smile on his face. It was 5:30 a.m. So I had that entire day to watch a whole lotta nothing go by.

I remembered that when I was driving yesterday. When I got to Oklahoma, it was rolling plains, which I learned later is true of most of the midwest. And the dirt was red, beside the highway. I had lived in big cities all my life, and most of what I traveled through on the way to this point was either cities, or semi-mountainous landscape bearing tall trees. Lots of rock face as the road had been cut through mountainsides. Also, blue (really!) grass in Kentucky, which I’d always heard about but never seen. And as I said, I drove through Arkansas at night, so it was impossible to see much of anything beyond the road ahead of me. So I was pretty impressed by red dirt. 

But the thing that got my attention the most was the sky. It arched overhead in the usual way, but then it came all the way to the ground all around me. My sky where I’d come from was the size of a postage stamp, seen between the tops of either trees or buildings. Even in Central Park, the biggest open space in New York City, the sky only came as far as the buildings surrounding the park, or the trees surrounding oneself. In other words, the sky was not what one noticed. I found this new, improved version of sky somewhat terrifying. A little closer to G-d than I was used to. (No wonder people in that part of the country have such an intense religious thing going on.) How did anyone sleep under a sky like that? So exposed. So vulnerable.

See? Huge sky! (Not much else)

See? Huge sky! (Not much else)

I eventually did learn to sleep under it, of course. And forgot all about it. Until yesterday, when I found myself looking at the sky in wonderment again. Wow! What a big sky!

The entire trip through Oklahoma looked exactly like this...

Most of the trip through Oklahoma looked exactly like this.