Thursday, January 26, 2012

We're in Alpine, WY

We've arrived in Alpine, WY after a 3400+ mile trip! The last leg through Wyoming yesterday was hard - strong winds rocked the car and blew snow over the roadway constantly. There were times when we were grateful for the snow plow stakes along the side of the road - they were the only visible indication of where the road was! But Ellen did a great job and got us here in good shape. We've both felt sort of wiped out today so we've taken it easy. I've spent most of the day resting in bed. Ellen has been up talking with Paul and playing with Max, but also rested during his nap. Today was a big milestone for Max - his crib came down. He's sleeping tonight on a mattress on the floor - a first! He'll get a regular youth bed when Paul has a chance to make it. We're all interested to see how this will work! But ... to go back

DAY NINE (Tuesday, 1/24): After our stop at the Center of the United States we drove up to Holdrege, NE, not too far north of the KS line. It was dark by the time we got up there and just as we were entering the town we were stopped by a Nebraska State Trooper - our right headlight was out, both low and high beams. He was very courteous and gave us a warning and Ellen signed a promise to take care of it. So we found a motel in Holdrege and spent the night and then found a service station the next morning where it was fixed in no time flat. From there we headed up to Scottsbluff, NE -- almost 300 miles (Nebraska is a BIG state) -- where we had never been before. There we found the Scottsbluff National Monument, which commemorates a major stop on the Oregon Trail. We enjoyed the visitor center -- we are real buffs of National Parks and Visitor Center displays, watched the video, Ellen got postcards, of course, and we drove up an access road to a lookout point. The late afternoon light was really beautiful.
From the Visitor Center

From the Top

There were two RoadFood Mexican restaurants in Scottsbluff - Rosita's and Taco John's. Rosita's seemed to have gone out of business so we went to Taco John which had an $8 Combo plate. It was not outstanding but it was ok. After supper we decided to stay in Scottsbluff and found a room in the Capri Motel which was economical and cozy.

DAY TEN (Wednesday, 1/25): This was a long driving day from Scottsbluff, NE to Alpine, WY - 570 miles. We came through Torrington, Douglas, Casper, Muddy Gap, Lander, Pinedale, Hoback Jct and finally, Alpine. It was quite a trip. What do we do besides Ellen driving and me sitting in the backseat with my legs stretched out (the front passenger seat having been removed)? Well, I read aloud. We are reading Richard Rorty's Contingency, Irony and Solidarity, a book recommended by Ellen's son Paul. It is pretty philosophical (recall that last year we were reading a biography of Wittgenstein), but it affords many opportunities for thoughtful discussion between the two of us, which we love to do. Interspersed with that, we are, believe it or not, working through a Latin Grammer! Reviewing the declensions and conjugations, etc. Something I have been wanting to do for some time, and Ellen enthusiastically agreed. And then on the lighter, delightful side, we are enjoying Arthur Ransome's Peter Duck (we've read four of the Ransome books so far in the Swallows and Amazons series. What fun!). And I make us little snacks out of our food box - P&J sandwiches, Cabot cheddar on Ak-mak crackers, dried apricots, nuts, chocolate, etc. Or we just ride along in silence and look at the scenery. I also do work on the computer and sometimes play iTunes in "shuffle" mode which gives us a wonderful variety of music from the thousands of "songs" on my hard drive (I have an attachment which allows us to play the computer through the car radio). We make regular pit stops, Ellen gets iced tea, I usually just drink water all day. It's wonderfully companionable and the miles fly by. This day, however, had its tense moments when the road disappeared in the blowing snow, and during those times, there are no distractions!

So, here we are. I've been working in bed on the "Shirley's Letters from Wellesley" project - Shirley is by now at the end of the first semester of her sophomore year, and is regularly dating an MIT student, Bruce M., who she repeatedly tells her parents is a "really nice guy." She was double-dating with a Wellesley friend, June, and her date, another MIT student, Mike, captain of the MIT basketball team. It is a steady round of dancing (at places like "The Meadows," a restaurant owned by the singer Vaughn Monroe - remember Ghost Riders in the Sky?) And would you believe - I tracked down both June and Mike and talked with them on the phone today. Amazing! They gave me Bruce's email address and I wrote him. We'll see if he responds. June ended up marrying Mike (but they were divorced 13 years later), but fortunately for me, the Shirley/Bruce thing came to an end after her sophomore year, and two years later, we met and "the rest is history," as they say. But it is pretty interesting to be learning about all this now. Shirley loved to have fun, and her sophomore year, she had a lot of fun!

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