June 27 - June 30


Tuesday - Day One

We have certainly left the desert. We drive off this morning in the first rain we've seen since we left the rain forest (specifically, Portland).

Before we move on to the journey: Las Vegas is maybe the size of Colwood fifteen years ago. It's not as small as Colwood was when I was at the college (Colwood then consisted of the Dairy Queen and Scandia Bakery and maybe a school) but it is nowhere near as big as either Colwood or Langford now. Or maybe it is but is more compressed. It's also a little more depressed. It's an interesting mix of the quaint, the tacky, the Wild West and the modern America. There is a Walgreens and a Walmart that are the equivalents of London Drugs and Zellers, and a number of motels along a strip, some very nice, others pretty seedy-looking (they advertise "clean rooms"). Some of the town is very old, and in some places this is historic; some of it is pretty new, and rather boring. The town itself is as far from the college as is Metchosin; but it's the biggest place for a while. I would say that Santa Fe is maybe the same distance away as Vancouver or Nanaimo.


The road to Denver: straight, calm, for miles. Rain falls enthusiastically on us. One and a half hours out we cross the Raton Pass into Colorado. The pass is covered in cloud so thick you could swim in it. The foothills of the Rockies.


Colorado is green where New Mexico was brown and red. We climb hills, go down them, but always we are ascending. The clouds we had for company are spreading out now, thinning, dancing sometimes; there is no more rain. We shave half an hour off our driving time. Oldies set the pace; we count the towns as we go. Sometimes we can see more mountains, bigger ones, on the northern horizon: Rocky Mountain High. A hitchhiker walks backward along the shoulder, his cardboard sign begging "UTAH". Some sun leaks out from behind the cover of cloud. We cross a windy plateau. A road sign advertises a "Point of Interest". We look: it seems to be a miniature, green canyon carved by some tributary on the face of the fields.

Colorado sky - behind Stephen's


We get to Stephen's earlier than expected; we met him still cleaning, as he had been doing for the past two weeks (his flat had been recently renovated, and was apparently quite a mess). He lives in foothills of mountains a fair way away from Denver (as we haven't been to Denver yet we don't know how far away it is), in a place called Morrison. It is beautiful. The mountains are not like those of the coast. They are barer (you can see them clearly around you, as the trees are smaller, kinder, more varied) and they are spectacular with outcrops of rocks (grey and red) and gently sloping roads. These are the mountains I imagined in my childhood.

Stephen's place, CO

His apartment is a basement, but because of the slope, the front of it is a ground floor flat. He lives in three of four rooms. The fourth, the largest, is empty except for his washing machine and dryer and one huge couch. In the bedroom he has a suite of furniture lifted from a vampire's bedroom: heavy, dark-wooded, and lined with mirrors and cut glass. Not his choice. In his words: "Before y'all make any comments about the furniture, just understand that I didn't pick it out. I got it for a good price from my former roommate." The bed is a four-poster with a solid canopy inlaid with gilded mirrors and on either side of the headposts are lights enclosed in cabinets of glass. The suite of furniture overflows into his living area, where a nightstand serves as a telephone stand and another cabinet holds candles. He lights the apartment with giant candles and dimmable standing lamps, discreet, warm lighting. We sleep in the bedroom, where Stephen rarely sleeps as he dislikes the mattress. He sleeps in the living room on an ultra-long couch in front of his entertainment centre.

Stephen himself is well, well-fed, his hair still long and beautifully soft. He is mellower than I remember, happy in the apartment, in love with the hills, homesick from the ocean.


 back to new mexico
on to day 2


san francisco
los angeles
new mexico
new york city
quebec city