This is another post in the exciting adventures of Sanuk D as he traveled across the country in late July and early August of 1998. Older posts in this series can be found under the “LA Freeway” category. In our last episode, Sanuk D had narrowly escaped alien abduction in the wilderness of Utah only to have close encounters with the Saab wielding peace officers of Aspen. He finally found refuge in a rain soaked tent on the eastern side of the Continental Divide.
I emerged less than full conscious to find a high ridge above me and a deep gorge filled with rushing water directly to my front. 36 plus straight hours of driving will put a man into a state that takes a little while to get out of. Fortunately, I had a chair. It was one of those lounge chairs with little plastic tubing for webbing and ratchets that allow you to adjust either end. I often slept on the chair in the tent, and since it was dry outside, I pulled it into the sun.
I had been reading Thomas Merton’s “Seven Storey Mountain,” which I found in a California book store while I was looking for Walker Percy books. I do not know how that particular transition was made at that time, and I did not know then that the two men shared correspondence which was immensely important to each of them. What I did know is that I had seriously considered the possibility of becoming a monk, particularly with the Society of Saint John the Evangelist. Reading a book about a person’s decision to become a monk seemed like a good preliminary step.
It’s a good book, especially for someone like me who maybe hasn’t always been a paragon of virtue. As I finished it there, sitting in the sun, I had two complementary thoughts:
- Good read
- I’m not supposed to be a monk
I can’t tell you why I knew this, and it was not a blinding flash of revelation. But I did feel a sort of release, a freedom from “having” to do something. It was a freedom to just be in the moment and experience the incredible place in which I had landed.
Even seated in my chair, I could tell it was incredible. I took a picture right from the seat, picnic grill and all included. I had not really taken up running yet, but I was hiking quite a bit by now. I decided to go down to the closer of the eponymous twin lakes to see what there was to see. Along the way, of course, were any number of interesting things.
Not the least of which was the grove of Aspen trees. Not knowing much about forests, I don’t know why forests are so different at 9,200 feet as opposed to 2,500, but the airy chamber beneath these trees was significantly more cathedral-like than the thatch of hemlock and oak back home. They drew both my head and my heart outward and upward. They were a curiosity surpassed only by the beaver pond beside the path back to the tent.
And then there was the nutjob in the kayak who was running the gorge. I know less about kayaking than I do about silviculture, so I don’t know if what he was doing was dangerous or just looked dangerous. Either way, I was no more about to become a kayaker than I was to become a monk. I was, however, going to stay here another day. There was no reason to drive half-way across Kansas just to stay in a Motel 6. The new plan was to pack in as much Colorado as possible before making a big push east.