On Thursday, my grandpa came over and installed the newest version of AVG onto my laptop and my dad's computer. Ironically, not 10 minutes after my dad was good to go and while I was still installing, our internet decided it hated us. Thus it was that I didn't get to post before leaving for the weekend.
Through some bout of lunacy (otherwise known as my personality), I decided not to pack until after I'd showered. Because the urge to shower came over me at about midnight between Thursday and Friday. I embarked on our journey running on two hours of sleep. Despite my semi-delirious state, I was kind of entertained while I was sitting in the dark at Anne's house at 4 AM waiting for her to get up and going. When she finally emerged, her dogs came with her. Her Shih Tzu trotted out behind her and paused in the hall. After a moment, she, the dog, looked over and realized I was there. She flew a few feet straight up into the air, all flopping fur and flailing little limbs, before bounding over several pieces of furniture to say hello with her entire back half waving back and forth.
Once we were on the road, I immediately zonked out, as is my custom. There's something about moving vehicles that never fails to lull me to sleep. That's why I don't feel safe driving long distances. During the intermittent bouts when I was awake, I made sure to take in the scenery. One of my favorite sites was coral orange sand. There was a sign for the Coral Pink Sand Dunes, but we couldn't see them from the highway. I bet they're a cool view.
I definitely made sure I was awake when we got up past Salt Lake, where the roads dive back into the mountain passes and the peaks tower up above both sides of your car.
I had hoped to see Gabby, my childhood best friend, after we arrived on Friday night, as it was her birthday, but we didn't get into Evanston, our destination, until 11 PM. Frankly, I think that was stupid and that we could've gotten there much sooner. I'm of the firm opinion that the major reason we took so long to get there was that Anne and Meagan are unreasonable when it comes to food and insist on always eating at sit-down restaurants, where just getting your food takes an hour plus time to consume it. I hate eating at restaurants all the time. Sure, I think they're nice every once in a while, but the rich food and huge portions sicken me (literally and figuratively) if I have to eat two such meals in a row. Luckily I managed to avoid too many of those during the vacation by eating at random hours so I could honestly say I wasn't hungry when everyone else decided it was time to go out. Also, I think it's a ridiculous expense. Why waste all of that money unnecessarily? Restaurants are fantastic for special occasions, but why go out for every meal? So, thanks to our two-hour stop at Ruby Tuesday's, I was too exhausted to see Gabby on her birthday. Which irritates me.
I did text her first thing when I woke up, though. I spent all of Saturday with her. We spent a little while at Evanston's Fourth of July fair-type thing near the fairgrounds in the morning, then we went around to various playgrounds and just talked and hung out. We even went to the playground of our childhood, which we'd enjoyed during it's first stages of existence. We sat on the grass field (which had been several mounds of dirt when we played there) and I sketched her and we sat and looked at clouds and talked as though it had been only a day, not months or years, since we'd been apart.
Saturday night I went to one of the local fireworks stores with Dad, Anne, and Meagan. Anne and Meagan, being from Arizona, were completely inexperienced with the joy that is legal explosives. Fireworks are the entire reason I wanted to go to Evanston for Independence Day. Wyoming has a lovely set of laws, and people can set off aerials from their own driveways if they very well please. Evanston has a population of about 12,000 people and boasts four permanent fireworks stores. Oh, yes. And I don't mean little ramshackle stands. I mean huge buildings. Because I was practically raised on the stuff, I think I will forever love everything about fireworks, right down to the way they smell.
Sunday morning we went to Bear River Park. Or, as I like to call it, "to see the bison." We parked and walked around part of the trail there. Oddly, it seemed, my first thought upon seeing the first of the bridges we crossed was "Poohsticks." At first I didn't understand why I thought of that. I'm sure I haven't though of Poohsticks in years. And yet... The sudden derailing of my thoughts soon became apparent. When we got up onto the bridge, we saw that the side meant for driving was fenced off because there were some holes developing. The first thing my dad brought up was that we couldn't play Poohsticks. Apparently he and I would play it for hours there at that park.
I enjoyed our walk. I love the Bear River. Indeed, I love mountains streams and rivers in general. They have a unique way a flowing. They don't meander or sluggishly drift. They leap and rush and occasionally bubble. They don't sport a smooth surface, but rather stripe themselves with life and energy. I love them. I love the way they smell and the way they sound, the way they move and the way they feel. I love the rocks lining their beds.
On the second, smaller, unbound bridge at the park, I smiled and said to my dad, "Want to play Poohsticks?"
I don't think Anne and Meagan really understood the spirit of it. They didn't play, but they watched. They seemed to think it was all about winning. For me at least, it's something else entirely.
At the end of our walk, I went and gazed at the bison they have there at the park. They're some of my favorite animals. Anne though they were ugly. I don't know if it was because they were in the process of shedding their winters coats, or if she truly thinks they're unattractive, but I think they're beautiful. I could watch them for hours and not notice the time. True, I could do that with most animals, but bison are special. They're part of my story. They're part of who I am.
I got to see some old friends of my dad's during the afternoon.
In the evening, we went over to another of his friend's houses so his kids could enjoy our bountiful harvest of fireworks. Meagan and I had quite the time with a particular brand of sparkler. They're quite pretty once you get them lit, but they hate to light. We were lighting them off of each other as fast as we could to make sure we always had one lit and we were trying simultaneously to make sure all of the kids who'd gathered got their turns playing with some. I rubbed my thumb raw finally learning how to work a butane lighter (sort of).
Once it was dark and we'd shot off a few of our own aerials, we headed up into the hills to watch the city's rather magnificent show. I was mesmerized. Then, as soon as the city's finale was finished, the town, which had been slowly building up a layer of smoke as the evening wore on and had been sporting the occasionally shower from a mortar, lit up like it was letting out a breath. Most of the inhabitants must have been watching the city show because as soon as it was over they let fly Evanston-style. I love everything about the Fourth of July there. I love the haze over the town and the thud of the cannons and the bursts of light. I love the crackle of firecrackers and the whine of bottle rockets and the drifting smell of sulfur. I love how you drive through the streets at your own peril because the pyrotechnics drift out of people's driveways and into the middle of the road. I love drawing in the air with sizzling sparklers. Most of all, I love when all of these overlap and I can pretend I'm on a battlefield and I can exist no further than my senses and an instinctual flare of imagination.
We got up even earlier Monday morning to head back. Surprise, surprise, we managed the return trip in a remarkably shorter amount of time because we made fewer stops and didn't go to any restaurants.
It was still dark when we pulled out of Evanston. Instead of going back to sleep as soon as I was in the car, I stared out the window, not wanting to miss my last opportunity for the foreseeable future to commune with my most beloved mountains. As we wove through the dark passes, I had a hard time deciding whether I should stare at the mountains or the starry sky, where the Big Dipper shone impossibly bright and big just over the western horizon. Eventually I settled on staring at the stars just over the ridge line when I could and happily letting the mountains obscure them when they felt like it. It felt like a satisfactory compromise that let me equally enjoy two of my greatest loves.
When I'm up in those close-pressing behemoth peaks, I feel so comfortable, like they're fondly embracing me as they rise up into the sky on both sides. It's one of my favorite feelings in the world. I love it.
Listening to: Pat Benatar on Pandora
Reading: Harry Potter y la piedra filosofal