Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Road Trip: Day 4 (Thursday morning)

My sister slept at our house once and complained that lying on our bed was like trying to sleep on a park bench. She told us that all she needed was a layer of newspaper to capture the comfort of a downtown sidewalk.

I guess I like a firm bed. This is helpful when one also likes to camp. Decades ago in our backpacking days we'd use a 1/2" thick high density foam pad under our goose down sleeping bags that served as both a mattress and insulation against the cold ground. Now we have a similar "high tech" model that holds just a little bit of air, too. Since we're not dealing with extreme temperatures on this trip, we spread out both the air pads, covered them with a sheet and covered ourselves with an unzipped sleeping bag.

The dirt patch for pitching our tent at the Grand Junction KOA was smooth and level and free of rocks and gravel. Shawn was setting up camp in record time until she tried piercing the earth with the tent stakes. She bent two and gave up.

This wasn't mere dirt underneath us. It was tougher than adobe. I'm thinking this was really an RV site with a thin coat of dust over the top!

We had a busy highway right next to us, a few loud kids nearby enjoying some suds and Texas Hold 'em and a newly paved bed. All we needed was a layer of newspaper.

I'd say this was the hardest sleep ever but I know it could've been worse. After all, we came, oh so close to spending the night in a bathroom stall ... but it was still a long night.

When I woke up my face was lined and distorted with deep creases, my nose was bent over to my cheek and my hands and arms were permanently asleep from the pressure of the concrete beneath us all night. Everything I touched felt either like fire or pins and needles. How can you feel that much pain when your appendages are numb? And my neck and back hurt. Shawn wasn't doing too much better.

I vividly remembered snickering at Lindsay Wagner doing her bed commercials. Lindsay grew up in my hometown and was sort of a local hero to us Eagle Rock folk. And besides that, she was foxy. My friends and I were so jealous of Steve Austin/Lee Majors. And we would never have let them give her her own show. Any one of us would've donated a body part if it would get her to notice us... But now the erstwhile Bionic Woman was on late night TV plugging mattresses. I wondered if she slept on one last night and for the first time I envied every RV and trailer owner on the planet.

On the plus side, we covered a lot of highway yesterday crossing half of Nebraska and nearly the entire length of Colorado. By our rough calculations we should have a mere 5-6 hour drive ahead of us. In addition, we'd cross another time zone and gain an hour making the trip seem even shorter. The best news was that last night's dinner was still right where it belonged.

We broke camp a little earlier than yesterday and headed west on US 50 through Grand Junction toward I-70 and the Utah border.

Grand Junction looks a little something like what Colorado is supposed to look like, but with a hint of Utah. As for the town itself, I think the best way to get a feel for a town is by their donut shops.

In Eagle Rock, home of Lindsay Wagner, we had, ironically, Colorado Donuts. And a little further west on Colorado Blvd. in Glendale we had Christina Donuts. Both made great donuts but we actually got to know the owners of Colorado Donuts. It was a mom and pop place and they were open 24/7. Mom worked days and pop worked nights. They had a couple of kids a little older than our own. The oldest was headed to college and debating whether to accept admission offers from USC and Harvard. I guess she's not going to be the one making the donuts every night after she takes over the family business ... As for me, I wondered how they managed to have even two children since they never seemed to be in the same place at the same time.

Most of our visits to Colorado Donuts were on Sunday mornings and we'd purchase a few for ourselves and one or two dozen for our friends at church. Choosing a donut for our daughter, Lindsey (not Lindsay Wagner) was never easy as her favorite donut last week was undoubtedly her least favorite donut this week. And we were supposed to just know this ... Shawn, our son Garrett and I were a little more predictable. Garrett especially liked the lemon filled.

The place was always crowded but we'd almost always be standing there in line with someone we knew. We'd talk in line, catch up on the families, make donut jokes (Did you hear the one about the non-ethnic Donut who went fishing in Canada?), share our donut recommendations (I liked the custard, Ed liked the Buttermilk Old Fashioned ...) or we'd see someone we knew at a table and just sit down to join them.

It wasn't like one of those latte places where the menu is pretentious (and unpronounceable) and you only sit with people who have an appointment. "I'll have the Beigne de Creme, s'il vous plait."

There are no agendas or unpronounceable menu items (except for maybe the Chinese food) at Colorado Donuts or Christina Donuts. I'd point to a custard filled and probably sit down with Chris's dad or someone else I hadn't seen since our kids played park league ball together. You always got more than you came for, and certainly more than you expected.

It was a watering hole. With donuts. And the mom at Colorado Donuts connected with her customers. "OK. There's two with custard, an apple, a maple and a medium decaf..." We'd pay her and she'd add, "And I put in a lemon on the top for your boy. OK?"

I don't know mom's name, but I'm looking forward to going for a run around the Rose Bowl (aka The USC Bowl) and stopping in for a custard filled or an apple fritter and visiting with mom and sitting down with whoever I may still know at Colorado Donuts in Eagle Rock. Who knows, maybe Lindsay Wagner will get a donut craving and I'll finally get to meet our hometown girl.

Back home in Lafayette, we have Mary Lou Donuts. She makes, by far, the best donuts in town. It's a watering hole, too. And they probably don't even know they serve a totally awesome Beigne de Creme.

I have wondered if Mary Lou and Christina are related. Cousins, maybe? Or sisters? The Donuts Sisters? I'd love to meet them someday ...

Grand Junction had a lot of donut shops. Unlike in Denver, the people there looked more my age and shape and they drove old beater cars to the donut shops. I might have enjoyed visiting one or two and a good beign de creme would certainly have eased the long dry trip through Utah. But my nose was still embarrassingly tweaked from sleeping on our granite bed.

Besides, we were kind of anxious to finally see the North Rim ...

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