We made it! After two long weeks on the road, the weight on our shoulders lifted as the “Welcome to Colorful Colorado” sign came in to view.
“Quick pull over!” I screamed as Conrad veered sideways off the road.
I expected the Colorado border to welcome us with mountains and high snowy peaks. I was surprised to see much of the same scenery I had seen in Kansas: lots of corn. We were both so excited to finally be in Colorado, in spite of all the people who said the bus wouldn’t make it. The eastern half of Colorado offered rolling hills and yellow fields of hay that were ready for harvest.
The first night was spent at a State Recreation Area in the middle of nowhere. We followed a dirt road to a lone picnic table that overlooked a dried up riverbed. The temperature quickly dropped as dark clouds rolled in above us. It looked like we would have another stormy night in the plains. Before the rains came, we got to know our camp neighbor, Dave. He was recently retired and traveling the American West on his motorcycle in search of a place to settle down. We all stayed up while Dave entertained us with stories of aliens and astrology. He was another kind stranger that taught me something new. Eventually, the rains forced us inside for the night, and we curled up underneath all the blankets we brought along. Just as I was drifting towards sleep, I heard a crinkling noise coming from the cabinet.
“What is that?”
“Maybe it’s a mouse”
Conrad creeped out of bed with a flashlight to try to catch our culprit. When the cabinet opened, a little brown mouse was staring back up at him! Then he scurried away back into the hole he came from, probably bringing some of my granola along with him. As we tried to sleep again, we toyed with the idea of keeping our little mouse as a companion for the rest of the trip.
“We can name him Sirius.”
Sadly, we would have to wait a little longer until our friend came out again. And then the rain hushed us into sleep.
My eyes fluttered open the next morning as I shivered in the morning chill. I felt so peaceful as I lay there listening to the rain above me and thinking about how grateful I was to be in that moment. Our camp started to stir as we all tried to wake up our fingers and toes. That morning felt like winter (at least Florida winter), as rain drizzled on our heads. Dave offered to treat us to breakfast, so we piled in the bus and drove a few miles out to the only restaurant in town. We ate at a retro diner with really yummy pancakes. Afterwards, we dropped Dave back off at camp and parted ways as we headed towards Colorado Springs.