I headed on to Denver, Colorado, where I'd be staying with a friend of many of my Pittsburgh friends. Driving through Colorado was really very beautiful. The fog finally cleared up and I got to see lovely North America, though mostly through my windshield.
At one point, I'm pretty sure I saw a dog in the median, looking out into the road. I thought about how scared he must be, and I wondered if someone had abandoned him there, and I thought about how hopeless a human would feel if he found himself alone on a highway median, and a dog has even fewer resources and knowledge and ability to communicate. I wanted to stop and take him into my car, but I literally had no space for him. The passenger seat was completely filled, as was every other space in my car. And then I spent a while crying. It made my vegan heart ache to think of his confused suffering. As I'm sure it would make anyone's heart ache, which once again reinforces my belief that most people, if they were true to their own moral convictions, would become vegan. Still, I don't know what I should have done. I felt powerless about it. I'm happy to have a soft heart because sensitivity and compassion go hand in hand, but it's terrible when you cannot come up with a way to help.
It's hard to write about driving. So much of my trip's time was spent driving, and those long stretches of time could really be unpleasant both to describe and to read about. It was really not all that unpleasant to experience, however. I listened to a lot of music and podcasts. Colleen Patrick-Goudreau's incredible vegan podcast got me through many a long stretches of time. I especially love the ones where she reads stories others have written, although every episode is so life-affirming and interesting and helpful, I cannot more highly recommend it for anyone who is vegetarian, who is a new OR long-time vegan, who leans vegan, who wants to eat veg more, or who loves animals.
I also listened to a lot of music. See, I used to have over 1200 CD's. I've collected them since I was a child. But the time for CD's has come and gone, and for this move, it was just necessary to get rid of them all. I sold many directly to Amazon.com, others to Amazon.com customers, a couple on eBay, and what remained, I sold to this guy in Pittsburgh who was obsessed with me who I think thought I would think he was cool if he wanted my CD's. I didn't think he was cool, but I sold him all the ones that weren't worth much (some 300 disks, I'd say) for $40. I put everything I once owned on plastic into my iPod. So during my drive, when I'd shuffle, I'd hear tons of stuff I hadn't put on in years. Some of it was crazily appropriate. I heard the song "Expected" by The White Stripes (a song that describes a woman expecting the narrator to drive to Toledo, Ohio for her) as I drove past Toledo. I heard the song "Chicago at Night" by Spoon as I decided to bypass Chicago for the night and head straight to Iowa. A song from Bruce Springsteen's album Nebraska came on soon after I entered that state. The Counting Crows song "Omaha" came on shuffle, but I must admit it was a few days after I'd left, and the Phil Ochs song "The World Began in Eden and Ended in Los Angeles" came on a few days before I got to the titular "city of tomorrow."
By the time I got to Denver, it was late and I was exhausted. I had a room to myself at my friends' friend Meghan's house, and she also had this adorable elderly dog Lucy with whom to cuddle.
The next morning, I went to the vegetarian restaurant City o' City, which was quite a nice place. They were playing the band Caribou inside and I was like, sweet! I ordered the Sardou, which was scrambled tofu (or chicken's eggs), grilled artichoke, spinach, and some potatoes. It was delicious, and it looked lovely on the plate.
My next drive would be the very longest of the trip, to Las Vegas, so I thought I'd drop by the new vegan grocery store in Denver called Nooch (cute, right?) to stock up for the road.
Driving out of Denver through the snowy mountains in my two-door manual transmission vehicle was certainly one of the most frightening things I've ever experienced. My car was really not having it. The hills, the altitude, the unclear roads. There was no moving faster than 20 mph for a very long time. It was beautiful, please do not get me wrong. Mountains are humbling and inspiring. If I hadn't feared for my life so intensely, I would have taken some pictures, but alas, I chose safety. I guess this is why I'd be a bad war reporter.
Once I was safely in Utah, though, I stopped frequently at the view points that are along the road. Utah is a gorgeous place. I know, I know, Utah -- Mormons, conservatives, Mitt Romney. But it's truly lovely there.
The most interesting part of the trip will be in the next post. In Las Vegas, I stayed with a man who has been vegan for over 30 years, and a raw vegan for the last few. I'm extremely excited to tell you all about the two days I spent there! Tune in tomorrow.