After Kansas, we headed on to Colorado, to thinner air and bigger adventures. We spent a couple of days camping at Twin Lakes with our friends, the Wienses. At close to 10,000 ft. elevation, the nights dipped into the mid-30s, leaving our tent-camping friends a little chilled in the mornings; but the thermostatically-controlled propane heat in the van kept us toasty warm.
On our way back to the Denver suburbs, we stopped for one of our favorite pizzas at Beau Jo’s in Idaho Springs. Making our way through some construction detours, we soon found ourselves being pulled over and ticketed for rolling through a temporary stop sign – which neither Betsy nor I ever saw (we still question its existence). After a few choice comments to the officer about the targeting of out-of-state license plates (we had watched locals fly through another stop sign for 10 minutes while the officer prepared our citation), we accepted that this lunch detour was going to cost us an additional $90 and 4 points on my license. Beau Jo’s pizza wasn’t as good as we remembered.
That night, we got a chance to interview Carrie, a friend of Jeff and Karen Wiens. She is a speech pathologist in Denver, and a very liberal, anti-Trump voter. It was a good talk, but the most interesting part was what happened the next day. Carrie was so inspired by our journey and project, she started engaging people at the dog park the next morning. She was telling two strangers what we were doing, assuming they were as anti-Trump as she was. Turns out they were both Trump supporters. So, she engaged them, and it was great. She asked them if they would vote for him again now. The man said, “He’s been a big disappointment, and I don’t know if I could vote for him again.” The woman said, “I would vote for him again, because anything is better than Hillary.” Carrie was perplexed, but all energized about having a conversation like that! Communication scholar, the late Barnett Pearce, used to say, “Every conversation has an afterlife.” Sometimes we may not accomplish as much as we’d like in a discussion; but it may ripple outward, beyond the scope of our control. We keep meeting people who have been talking to others about our project. That’s the real goal: getting people excited and hopeful about engaging dialogue.
We took a day trip up to Ft. Collins, where we spent part of the day with some friends, the Weatherhoggs, from our old neighborhood in Springfield. Konrad is originally from Scotland. He told us an interesting story about how the presidential campaign affected him. He had been thinking about getting his U.S. citizenship. When he saw Trump rising in popularity, and the aggressive nationalism in his rhetoric, Konrad decided to expedite things and get his citizenship test completed sooner rather than later. He did. He’s a citizen of the United States now. Some of his neighbors in Ft. Collins are foreign nationals, who have begun applying for citizenship since the election. They are looking at months, even years before they will be approved.
We left Denver and had a good couple of days with Zack and Kathryn Pettijohn in Aztec, NM. Zack has taught art at the local high school for 20 years. We are talking about coming back to Aztec, so Zack can arrange an opportunity for us to talk to some native people who live on the reservation. It didn’t seem like something we could just walk in and do without an introduction.
Now we are in Santa Fe, parked in the driveway of my second cousin Pam, and her partner, Maggi. We are going see what kind of trouble we can get into here. We leave for Flagstaff on Sunday.
Featured on the traveling playlist: new Jason Isbell, new Gorillaz, old Joni Mitchell, and old John Coltrane.