After 27 hours, two airline companies, one lovely hotel and a miffed terrier, I’m back in the
Some people don’t get Customer Service. *coughDELTAcough*
Some, do. Continental, you rock.
FUBAR’d points, missed flights, finding a hotel from Newark…the WORST AIRPORT IN NEW YORK… booking off of my computer in the lobby of the hotel, having to wait in said lobby until midnight to check in, having a room I could keep at 62F, getting my points flight moved up by a great Continental employee, snagging an earlier shuttle to the town below me… it all added up to 27 hours from the time I left the no longer my Little Apartment in the Projects to arriving on the front step of my home in Utah.
I caught the shuttle up from Vegas. It runs every 90 minutes or so, and, I used to be a regular, so, he found me a seat. I’d been sitting in the back of the van, next to a young guy around the age of the Jarhead. The terrier was thrilled to be out of her case and had stretched out on the seat between us and was soon asleep. It was odd to be in a car for one, and once you leave Vegas, there is pretty much…nothing.
Traveling north on I-15, the stretch Stephen King made famous in The Stand, you see nothing but acres and miles and miles of acres of barrenness. The difficult part is knowing people live there. The Native American's were defeated, and the government said, as a friend of mine so beautifully put it, "Tell you what, we're going to take allllllllllllllllll of this, and in exchange, here's some whiskey and six million acres of kitty litter."
He wasn't far off in his description of the area.
You pass up through Nevada and into a small stretch of Arizona onto what is called the Million Dollar Highway.
It cuts into a canyon, black rock, steep sides, you are cut off from cell service, helicopter service should you have an accident.. and there are many of those... all you have are the rock walls that rise up hundreds of feet above you. The road twists and winds its way up from the desert floor, you can start to feel the pull on your car as you climb out of the flat desert into what we call high altitude desert.
It was called the Million Dollar Highway because back in the day, it cost a Million Dollars a mile to build; an unheard of amount. Solid granite was blasted out, hauled away, ripped away from the earth. Fourteen miles took years to create.
It takes us twenty minutes to zip through.
More driving, more chatting with my seat partner who had, by this time, moved the terrier onto his lap where she was very content.
He'd grown up in Las Vegas, then, his mother had married a local member of the church, and moved to the town near here, so, he became a resident of our area. When he turned 23, he decided to become a deep sea diver, you know, the kind with the helmets? He lives and works out of one of the shoretowns on the coast of Louisiana, taking the jack boats out to the rigs, working there for three months at a time, then on shore for one. He makes huge bundles of cash, as there are no living expenses at all in the job, and he banks everything he makes, with the hope of buying homes, selling them, and retiring in 10 years with a Master Diver certificate. He wants to live in the Keys, with a paid for business. He used to be a smoke jumper, a job you find in this area, but, it wasn't full time work around here, so, he switched.
His mom was as thrilled as I was when the Jarhead enlisted.
He hung around the parking lot with me, while I waited for Mrs S. His ride showed up just before she did, and he gave me this little hug. Nice kid.
We piled all the luggage into the car, with Mrs S and M exclaiming on how different the terrier and I looked. I don't notice the weight loss on either of us, I suppose. We stopped and ate and started the last leg of the trip.
Miles of nothing again, the difference being, I was in the mountains. Back to high altitudes. Back to clear air. Back to this sky filled with stars and a big fat moon and strips of clouds. Friends voices in a car... I'd forgotten what it was to talk on a normal voice level, to have a background reference for conversation.
M fell asleep in the backseat. Mrs S and I kept talking... I don't remember what about.
I get to the West, and I feel the void pulling. My heart aches. I was exhausted by the time we arrived at my sweet little house, that costs $50 more a month than my little apartment in New York. I scanned the front yard.. roses need pruning, I can smell my lavender garden. HRH opens the door, the lights are on, I'm back.
In the middle of the night, the terrier had to go out.... we walked onto the deck, down the stairs, into the grass. She snuffed it, worried it, walked about, searching for her missing companions.
I looked up, over to the west, and there was Orion.
It was worth 27 hours and a bunch of FUBAR's. Mrs. S, M, HRH, friends I'll see over the next week or so, figuring out how to drive my little car again... a town of 17 stoplights... and every night, Orion sits there.
I'll soak that in the most... it's the thing I miss, the thing I can't find in New York. These brilliant, deep stars... and the pure quiet that goes with watching them in the dark still of the night.