Hauling the News to 11,000 feet
(Page 2 of 2)
I thought the show was over at 5 a.m. at the evangelical caf'e where I had homemade sourdough pancakes smothered with local boysenberry jam and valley butter. That was good enough. Added to my friend's love of American history, pointing out the unseen sights: the pass where gold on its way to the Confederate army was hijacked; Kit Carson's fort down below on our left; and now the remains of the railway station where Bishop Lamy of Santa Fe rode hundreds of miles alone on his burro to get the train to Denver to meet his archbishop. I had to imagine all this in the swirling mist of snow and headlights, as the road signs only marked off the standard miles. As we went on and sun began to lift what I had begun to think of as evil air, we crossed the pass home.Skip to next paragraph
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Had we really been there in the night at 11,000 feet? Now the eastern plains were rosy all the way to Kansas and peaks ruffled in cloud were catching the clear reality of a new day in a wild but solid country: pine trees, a rabbit making tracks through the dried grasses above snow - ears gold from the sun - a crow, and then a fast flight of chickadees. My eyes creaked open with all the definition.
``Not over yet,'' my friend said, as if sitting on a Christmas present. ``The papers next to you, I save for last.'' I looked at the computer label they were rolled in.
``But we went past that last night,'' I said.
``Comb your hair. Straighten up,'' he answered.
Then we turned into the club. It was an inn with a swimming pool and restaurant indoors. He laid the papers on the morning clerk's desk, for it was now a working day, Saturday everywhere. Then he took me into the exclusive place, built to catch highway skiers at a resort farther away that never took off. Now, as a club it was doing all right, but it was a place neither he nor I would ever buy a membership to.
``Morning, Pony Express,'' said the waitress with one of the papers under her arm we'd ridden with all night. We sat at a table around the indoor pool where a man was swimming laps in goggles in a closed lane, and a few children were inventing the day's absorbing tasks that kids do around water.
We sat there facing the mountains we had flown across in our little tin can, the snow clouds rolling back off the peaks, the sky blue now, and this warm, safe lake full of vigorous children at our feet. With the huge, pleasing windows braced by beams and a morning in full swing on earth up there, our journey in the night looked as geometric as history: It had a beginning, and an end and yet everything was changing.
``I have a luxurious job,'' my friend sighed tiredly, opening his coat to let the warmth in; pleased to show me this last stop where he put his ``day'' in order. So this was how he did it.
``Yeah, I don't think Lindbergh would have wanted to drive the Denver Post truck either,'' hardly thinking what I said, looking up at the sky we'd been in all night, receding from the peaks. Now I knew the secret of his ability to hammer out those nights. He was one of those greatly cheered to get close to the people of the history of his own time, be what it may.