Spending the night somewhere in southwestern Kansas was inevitable. Experienced from many trips to Colorado by a variety of routes I knew my overnight options in the southeastern part of the state would be thin. My plan was to spend the night in Garden City. I was familiar with one large motel on the highway into town.
The torrential downpour following the spectacular thunderstorm was not in my plan. The motel was filled. The evening motel clerk took pity upon my pathetic dripping wet self and called another motel for me. There was one room left. They would save it for me. Traipsing back out into the univinting elements I headed off with my written instructions. The vintage motor lodge was near downtown with a tiny full parking lot. Parking on a side street, I opened the door and stepped out into swirling water halfway up to my knees. Grabbing my overnight bag, I sloshed through to the motel office. The hot bubble bath was heaven and sleep came easily.
The next morning the air was cool, clean and fresh. The sky was a wonderful shade of blue. Sticking my book-on-cassette into the tape player, I continued my adventure. Timing was great. I drove into the mountains mid-afternoon. Locating the main house and checking-in area, I received my instructions and keys. While the owner delivered my wood, I unloaded the car. After my brief tour of the pump house, the springhouse and brand new outhouse, I was left alone to enjoy my stay.
There was a kerosene lamp on the little table, I opted for the battery operated Coleman lantern as the sun began to set behind the mountains. Starting a fire in the wood stove, I fixed an easy supper, heated water to wash my face, put on my flannel jammies and jumped into bed with a book. That night I again slept the sleep of the exhausted.
Waking up without an alarm clock is a luxury. Waking up to only take care of me was an unheard of phenomenon. The cabin was cold and I snuggled in bed until I was too hungry to wait anymore. I jumped up and started the fire. Using my old camp coffee pot I made coffee on the Coleman stove. Jumping back into bed I waited for the room to warm and coffee to perk. My breakfasts during the week were bacon and eggs, pancakes, biscuits and gravy or oatmeal. I made pizza, muffins, corn bread, meatloaf, baked chicken and a cake in the oven of the wood burning cook stove.
On the fourth of July the ranch family and the “dudes” gathered around a campfire for dinner and fireworks. During the day I took walks across the mountain meadow and checked out the farm or lay out on the fold up outdoor lounger I brought from home. One day in the middle of the week I drove out of the wilderness area into Gunnison and up to Crested Butte. I arrived during the summer wildflower festival and had a great time wandering through the town, eating ice cream and looking over all the flowers and arts and craft displays.
The week I spent at the Quarter-Circle Circle Ranch was the real beginning of the rest of my life. The road trip to a remote area and taking care of myself with no running water, electricity and indoor plumbing set a new standard for how I wanted to live. The lessons learned were invaluable for my graduate school years three states away from my family support system.
My journey to find myself and carve out my own slice of life had begun………………………..
©2011 Susan Kendall. All rights reserved