Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Road to Home

Moab Rick says that a trip begins in the imagination. And he should know. An incorrigible world traveler, Moab Rick may have finally settled down but he’s never stopped scheming ideas for his next trip.

Moab is one of those rare towns that lives up to its billing. You will never see a more impressive confluence of off-road Jeep enthusiasts, river rats, mountain bike freaks, hardcore backpackers, campground RVers, and plain old folks just wanting to get a good look at the rocks. Moab (the town) was a place that (Moab) Rick returned to over and over again over the years. So he decided to finally make an honest town out if it. Of course, meeting Monette, his partner, helped. So Moab Rick, the lone traveler is now a Moab Rick & Monette, enthusiastic homeowner/gardeners… with plans simmering for their next trip.

Moab Rick & Monette offered up a spot on their acreage for our little home-away-from-home on wheels. Not only did Rick let us paw through his incredible collection of rare expat literary journals from 1920s Paris (and serve up a night of honest-to-god home cookin’), he gave us an insider’s guide to the best watering holes in town, critical national park hiking destinations, and revealed the secret locations for free national park-side camping. “If one of the rangers hassles you, but since there’s only two of them chances are they won’t,” Moab Rick assured us, “just say: Russ in the office said it was okay to camp here.

To which we say, Thanks Russ! And thanks Rick!

All of this homelife set us to thinking about the idea of home. Not so much what it means, but what it is and how it is expressed. This in mind, we sailed through the Navajo Nation of northern Arizona and New Mexico, past "Shiprock" (or Winged Rock), the spiritual center of the universe to the Navajo. Since we're not of the tribe, this is as close as we could get.

But we could get right up and into the so-called Aztec ruins of the Anasazi people, a thousands year-old civilization that mysteriously and suddenly disappeared in the 1300s. Their homey little village, however ruined, remains.

Which is all very instructive and interesting and worth pondering and all. But that was then. And in today's world, when the grime of the desert wears thick and the miles on the road weigh heavy you can step back in time and fall into the soft embrace of the modern world. Do this in Durango, CO and you'll find yourself at the Strater Hotel.

Don't get us wrong. Living in a '71 microbus is great. But a night's stay at the Strater is a sweet reprise. In many ways it's better than home.

But then again, as fine a place as it may be, this hotel isn't home. So we pressed onward, heading east, stopping in Colorado Springs at a place that used to be home. Some of you may recognize it. Some of you have even lived there, too. You know who you are.

It's been about 20 years since I left this place. Much of the complex has changed for the better, I hasten to add, and my old sport of cycling has moved elsewhere. While the old ghosts remain, only I can see them (though Diane, bless her soul, has had to hear all about them). And it's just as well. Because when we moved on down the road, our baggage happily remained curbside.

But where to next? Where on the road can you find your home? Turns out the answer lays not in the imagination. It was instead waiting for us a few miles up the road just outside of Greeley, CO. And it looks like this:

And though this isn't the house I grew up in, it is my mother's home. Which is to say, we are finally home, too ... for now.


  1. Van Man,
    The ghosts of Eddy B and Fred Cappy beg you to return to the OTC. You have unfinished business there. There are unfinished training rides, unfinished travel to distant races for no reward and unfinished races. You still have pounds of flesh that need to be sacrificed to the pavement Gods. Get off of your high horse and get back on the bike!
    Big R

  2. Big R:

    I'll get back on the bike only if you do... I got a social security statement the other day. According to the IRS, in my best year I made $535.33. We're taking 1980s dollars here, so that's not too bad.

    You'd like the OTC these days. The old snowy running track has become a gymnasium. And the old cycling buildings are a parking lot.