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  • Writer's picturestephanieraffelock

The Oregon or Bust Chronicles


The announcement about our move went out the morning that we finished packing up our house in Colorado. The movers loaded up 25 years of a life in Colorado and drove away.  The last day, the last night, the last house that we would likely ever inhabit in the state, now stood empty and echoing. The morning after we sent out the news about what has become affectionately known as our “happily ever-after chapter,” we faced one last tearful goodbye with our dear friends, the Carson’s; awkwardly standing in the driveway  hugging and hanging on just a little while longer until we finally made it to our cars and began driving toward our new adventure.

Headed north up to Wyoming, each town along the way held special meaning: Greely, where we used to watch Bronco training camp before they had the fancy new place in Dove Valley; Ft. Collins where our beloved black Labrador, Jetson, had taken his last breath at the CU Veterinarian School; Red Feather Lakes, the place where Dean and I had gone to our first Loving Kindness Meditation Retreat, only to be rained out and chilled to the bone in our tent. All these places held memories and stories of our 25 years together and we were driving away from all of them on a beautiful spring day, straining to see what was waiting on the horizon.

The pink clay soil was offset by the new grasses.  Rocks pierced through the emerald carpet on hillsides, reminding me of dragons. A cowboy in a nasty ol’ Cadillac, sausage fingers gripping the steering wheel, toothpick hanging from his mouth nodded as I passed him. The “Two Chicks Paint Ball” sign beckoned men not as tethered to obligations and responsibilities as my husband and provide a laugh as I drove by and could only imagine how or why that business ever got started. I mean, what could be a better business model than two chicks and paint ball?

Dean, driving in front of me bobbed his head to a play list, singing along. I drove in silence, writing observations and descriptions of the passing landscape in my head, occasionally reassuring Jeter who panted in the back seat.  He had never been on such a long car ride. Wyoming’s wide open spaces gave way to the spring colors of Utah and a climb up the winding road to Park City, before the descent into the Salt Lake Valley. Having recently watched Ken Burn’s documentary on the West, I wondered about the pioneers who made their way over this landscape that I was cruising at 75 miles per hour. They were a hardy bunch, restless and wild. I relate– a hardy sixty-something off to a new adventure untamed and still wild at heart.

Tomorrow, Salt Lake to Reno…

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