Chapter 14 - "the sluggish sunrise"

After my traditional 15 minute morning shower, we packed our belongings, grabbed some grub at the complimentary continental breakfast and stepped out into the frigid world yet to awaken. What the shower didn’t accomplish in perking me up, the nippiness of the natural Montana air did. I felt my wet hair freezing to my scalp. I was still having trouble softening to the idea that I was heading into another full day of hyperactivity without a full night of sleepy inactivity. The only thing bitterer than the air that morning was my unfeeling heart. I wasn’t in the mood.

The sky was unusually dark. I was looking toward the east to see any smidgen of a sign of a sunrise, but there wasn’t even a faint glow. Now I don’t know much about the cosmological science of the standard sunup, but I know that you can begin to see the colorful radiance long before you can see the actual sun. The fact that it was pitch black started to make me wonder how long it would be before the sun actually crested the horizon and cast its rays across the wild Montana terrain drenching the mountains with illuminative glory. We drove for about a half an hour and still there was just the early signs of dawn. We were fast approaching the foothills of the Rockies, the place were Doug raved about this one-in-a-million piece of “picture perfect”. But there was only one problem, we woke up way to early and the sun wasn’t rising according to our skewed schedule. It got to the point were Doug pulled off to the side of the road and we waited for like a half an hour for the sun to make its sluggish ascent and eventual appearance. This is where my fatigue kicked in like nobodies business.

Here we were, pulled off to the side of the road waiting on nature to wake up when we could have stayed in bed for another hour without missing a blasted thing. I wanted to close my eyes and catch some shut-eye, but the sky was coming alive and I didn’t know when that first sunbeam would cast its joy upon the sleepy mountain range.

We got out of the truck and took pictures of each other. I didn’t smile because my face didn’t work yet. I needed a massage to loosen my lazy muscles. I stood stiff as a plank as Doug captured that moment with his camera. We were out on the flat plains which only made the wind howl and hiss all the more. The wind chill made it feel like 12 degrees. And if it feels like 12 degrees, that’s exactly what it is in my book. We hopped back in the truck and waited on the sun. After what seemed like a coon’s age, a sliver of sun emerged and a shaft of light shot across the landscape bringing with it color and, best of all, warmth. The mountains seemed to wipe the sleeping seeds out of their crusty eyes, put on some dazzling lip stick and alluring eye-liner, and then some blush and powder to soften the harsh and unsympathetic features of the Wild West. It was another one of those moments when your eyes are too small to take it all in and you find your lenses trying to focus like an old camcorder trying to figure out which object to zoom in on. Things kept going blurry, but every now and then, my eyes would lock into focus and I would catch a glimpse that would bring Marilyn Manson to his/her knees. Whatever you get when resplendence French kisses transcendence, that’s what I got in that holy moment.

What the shower did for the first 20 minutes of my day, and the chilly morning air did for the next 20 minutes; that’s what the sight of those glowing monolithic mounds of majesty did for the next 20 minutes. And that, my friends, is how I made it through the sleep deprivation of this whole trip, one glorious experience to the next, each one keeping me awake and getting me to the next shot of adrenaline. You hear of adrenaline junkies, I think I became one on this trip, not out of intentionality, but necessity.

After several minutes of taking in this sight-for-sore-eyes, we pulled back onto the blacktop and made our way to the humble town of Augusta, the joy of man’s desiring, the place on which we set our hearts from the beginning of this pilgrimage, the destination that made the arduous riggers of this irrational journey worthwhile. A town that got trapped in the early 1900’s…purposely. I thought I was having an adventure thus far, but I came to find out I was trifling with child’s play. The best was yet to come.


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