Wednesday, March 5, 2008
Grand Junction begins before you actually get there.
The rough ridge of the Bookcliffs appear on the north side of I-70 at least 40 miles outside the valley. You follow them through the canyon, past the vineyards of Palisade and you close your eyes as you pass Clifton and then you go on into town.
Even though you've been gone two and a half years, Mt. Garfield still stands tall, on guard, and it still inspires awe as you round its bend, staring back at it as you know you're finally there.
We went back last weekend to the place where we belong. To "Lost" watchers, Grand Junction is our island and I am Jack screaming, "We have to go back."
We go straight to work, and I want to go in the back way, but we don't know the door code. Instead, we tell a receptionist we are there to see Katie. Or Josh, I add. And then they come up and it's like we never left.
We eat pizza at the downtown place we love and the guy behind the counter says, "Are you back?"
We go to the landform to the south now, the majestic red rocks of the Colorado National Monument. The best part of the valley. Where runners and bikers and hikers all do their thing, alone under the sun but very much in good company.
Rye finds sticks that are swords, logs that are sharks and rocks that are turtles. He digs holes and stops mid-step to explore something. He runs and runs, up a long hill until he is 30 feet away from Mom and Dad. But we are all safe there, in the Grand Junction desert.
We eat soup and nachos and sopapillas and drink chai and beer and happiness and friendship. We relax. We inhale deeply. We smile and laugh. And remember.
This is what it was like. And this is what maybe someday it will be like again.
So we keep looking, hoping, thinking for a way to get back to the island in the middle of the desert on the Western Slope of Colorado.