Oy, taking quite some time off of this. I'm afraid I'm not in the habit of writing down my life for an audience, so I hope you will excuse me.
The rest of the time in Colorado passed rather pleasantly. Nicole, my step-sister, made it in to the Steamboat airport without major incident, my grandparents and later aunt, uncle, and cousins similarly found their way to the house, and we settled down to a fine Christmas together.
I downhill ski/snowboard about once a year, while my Dad and much of the Denver side of my family do so on a relatively regular basis. As such, I found myself quite sore and rather less sure-footed than I remember myself growing up with this sort of thing a weekend retreat from the city. All the same, throwing oneself down a mountain with gusto and lust is still quite pleasant, though colder and damper for the falling.
My brother could not make it up to the mountains owing to a complex situation involving his girlfriend, sleeping accommodations, bald tires, possible poor communication, weather, and the cost of airfare being somewhat high during the holiday season. Tensions rose on either side of the debate, and are in fact still somewhat risen. I was just glad to see him in Denver. I think he'll do good things.
And then I journeyed off to Portland for New Years. The car had been unhappy in the sub-zero temperatures that it experienced during the interim. But, once warm, purred as happily as ever.
I coasted back over the rest of the rockies, and through the very same stretch of road which had taken me over the first stretch of my eastward trip.
When I drive through Oregon in daylight I'm often quite surprised at how poorly I remember its terrain. It's wide open in places, fenced in by canyons in others, meanders along rivers, rolls along ridges, passes farmland, and then starts all over again. I could swear there are two identical towns right along I-84, one of them being Baker City, and the other one about 100 miles to the east. Or was it west...
Well, I stopped for a couple hours in La Grande. Megan, a dear friend of Elena's, who also put us up in Portland both this time and the last, was kind enough to feed me some eggs and bacon at her parents place there. Then she let me drive her '63 (right?) VW bug around town a bit, which was interesting with all of the snow everywhere. That thing handles exceptionally well in the snow for approaching fifty years of age. Did have a little trouble keeping running when in neutral, however. But quite a thrill to drive. It makes me both appreciate my car all the more and make me think that it could be engineered a bit better for bad roads while also being a touch more thrilling. I'm not about to trade mine in for a vintage model just yet, though.
The slight trip from La Grande back into the Columbia valley was the only point on the trip where I ran into significant snowfall during the entire trip. For that, I'm quite thankful. I had better luck with the weather on this trip than I could have imagined.
The trip into Portland is much more of a haze coming back than going out. It was still scenic, but I'd been up for a day and a half.
I dropped into Portland, picked up Elena downtown, where she'd been looking at books, and headed to her friend Seamus's place for dinner. I passed out a couple of times, ate, had a short chat with someone, passed out again, gave Elena the keys, and we somehow found ourselves at Megan's place. After petting the cat for a minute, I fell asleep for a good long time.
And I'll stop there for now. Any comments welcome, if there are those still checking in on this.