Sunday, June 21, 2015

The big roadtrip : Boston to Colorado

Bonjour la maison!

Since the day after I left MIT - graduated, even! - my mom and I have been driving west, with nearly everything I own packed into and on top of my battered Buick.

Map and image: Google maps
I've just left my things in a little self-storage facility near Denver airport, so I can fly straight into Denver in August. James has been following us on his new motorcycle (vroooom!) and will continue on towards Los Angeles after I fly for Santiago tomorrow. Mom is flying back east.

For now I'm sunbathing at a motel pool, eyeing toddlers who get too close to splashing my laptop. James is out shopping for toothpaste, since we accidentally came all this way with just one travel tube for the three of us.

Oh, and a quick warning to the underclassmen: moving is bloody expensive. I've already paid my Boulder landlord three months' rent (first month, last month, and deposit), and this trip cost some hundred dollars for each of gas, food and motel rooms (read on for my futile attempts to reduce this by camping), and the self-storage rental. Sigh.


In eastern Pennsylvania we stopped at a place called Frances Slocum State Park. Mom and I arrived after dark, so we left money in an envelope at the ranger's station and found a campsite tucked far away in the back of the campground. We set up my tent and hammock,went out for Chinese takeaway, and pulled our breakfast things out of my boxes, and talked about the night's weather. I spent another hour listening to every car and wondering what James and his motorcycle had gotten up to over the last 300 miles before his single headlight finally shone on the road below.
My very favorite bug!
In the morning we brewed coffee on our camp stoves and hunted bugs. Inchworms, we decided, like to crawl on round things. Green inch-long worms walked in circles around my coffee pot, and when I shook my tent three bark-colored inchworms as long as my hand fell from the tent-poles.

James and I spent a week with my parents in Pittsburgh. I ran with our elkhound, Fei; cooked lots of vegetarian curries and soups; tore rogue grapevines off of our garden walls; and almost bought a hand-made wool coat at a local art and music festival.

The we drove up to Ann Arbor to see Ben! 

Don't be deceived by the sunniness of U Michigan in this photo. Between Pittsburgh and Michigan we ran headlong into a big thunderstorm. We drove 35mph along the interstate and no one passed us. Poor Ben had to let us in out of the storm at about 3am.

The next day, mom and I stopped at the southeastern shore of Lake Michigan
Here at Indiana Dunes State Park, the lake looked and sounded like the ocean - waves crashed into sand; vans solf overpriced hotdogs and ice cream; teenagers played volleyball in their bikinis. It was a surprise to walk into the water without feeling the familiar sting of salt on my legs. The only thing which broke the illusion was the western horizon, where Chicago's silhouette is faint but visible above the waves.

In Illinois, we tried to camp at a small county recreation area - a patch of preserved trees amongst endless farmland. Mom and I arrived after dark, so we drove around inside until we found the campsites (almost all empty). Since the website said that reservations weren't required, we figured we could go pay the rangers in the morning. We went back to the entrance to wait for James' motorcycle headlight, but instead, after fifteen minutes, we were hit by flashing red and blue lights. The gates were closing for the night (locking in any campers?), and the ranger was duly surprised to find a silent car, with a full trunk and roofrack, staring out towards the road. Our 'third party member delayed on the road' story didn't go over well, as James wasn't able to pick up his phone, and we ended up driving another half hour to find a motel.

The Midwest - we spent two full days in Iowa, Nebraska and Eastern Colorado - was even bigger than I had imagined it, though less flat. Western Nebraska in particular is covered in beautiful rolling hills. They reminded me of English farmland but on a much greater scale. 
One beautiful part of the flat farmland - panoramic sunsets.
We stopped overnight in Lincoln, NE to visit one of my mom's cousins, whose wife absolutely spoiled us with her lovely house and a good Italian dinner :-)

Two Days in Denver

Finally, Denver. I rented a storage unit big enough for my car with all of my boxes piled on top. Mission accomplished!

We visited a tasty microbrewery, and made the inevitable stop at the Natural History Museum:
We planned to camp at Golden Gate Canyon State Park the next night. When we got there we were kindly told that, although their website states that reservations are not necessary, people who want tent space on a pretty weekend in June really should have booked at least six months in advance. Ah, well. James and I ran up to the highest peak in the park - 10200 feet, the Rockies are high - and climbed around the rocky summit for a while.
James working a pirate/cartel mountain look.
Then we came down and ate noodles and watermelon with mom as the sun set over the Rockies. Good mountains. Good day.
Alright. This took a while. I'm now in the airport, and my flight has been boarding for the last ten minutes. Adios!


  1. Kelly! This sounds like a wonderful road trip <3 My favorite part was the noodles, watermelon, the last photo, and 10,200ft peak -- was that just in one day? Kelly, you are superwoman. :D

    The roadtrip sounds really fun but probably super tiring. I always admire how you do these things with so much enthusiasm :D The sunset from NE is absolutely wonderful. The colors and the clouds are captured so well.

    Colorado looks promising, can't wait to hear about more of your adventures! And see beautiful mountain photos, of course. ;)

  2. great post! gonna miss you kelly <3

  3. great post! gonna miss you kelly <3