The Final Voyage Begins

The trip from Logan, Utah to Knoxville, Tennessee is 1800 miles. Google reports a trip time of 28 hours. Google takes into account speed limit and, being especially clever, adverse traffic conditions. It does not, however, take into account 1985 Volkswagen Vanagons that really should not go faster than 65 miles per hour, and, when going up hill, can be substantially slower still. When I started my life in Walden, I tried not to drive more than five hours a day. Especially when I was new at figuring out where to stay for the night, I liked to get wherever I was going with plenty of time to scout out a place to stay the night. Now that I have parked in residential neighborhoods, city streets, truck stops, and, my favorite, brewery parking lots in dozens of towns, finding a place to sleep causes no angst whatsoever. For this trip, most of which I had done in reverse back in September, I already had the breweries scoped out and was looking forward to revisiting them. The trip out to Utah took me five days, including an extra day in Fort Collins. I was going to try to make this trip in three days, shaving a full day off my previous trip’s four driving days.

I managed to get on the road pretty close to 8:30, even after I turned in my keys and parking permit to Utah State University and bought the last breakfast taco at my favorite Gas Station Mexican place. I drove up the canyon, passing by Beaver Mountain Ski Area, which had been my terminus every other time I had driven up this road from Logan. Before long I had reached the Wyoming border, where I had stopped on the other side of the road when I arrived in Utah in September.

Somewhat to my surprise, after eight months, the road back to Colorado looked pretty familiar. As I rounded a turn, I remembered a place where I had stopped to see if I could find some fossils, across the street was a train track where a train had derailed.

derailed train

There is lot of nothing in the West, and it seems to like it that way. Derelict buildings in various states of dilapidation are a common site. I snapped a photograph of what is left of a town called Virginiadale. In another 10 or 20 years the cold winters with piles of snow and blazing hot summers will reduce this old post office to a pile of rubble.

At 6:30, about ten hours after the commencement of my voyage, I arrived in Fort Collins, which had been my last stop before arriving in Logan last fall. Though I was ready for a beer, this ten hour trek was fairly comfortable.

I headed straight for New Belgium Brewing company. When I had traveled through in September, their beautiful little pub had free beer. I have been to bars that had a sign saying “Free Beer Tomorrow,” but in this futuristic land, every day was tomorrow. It was my understanding that it was easier for New Belgium to give beer away than to get whatever license was required to sell beer at the brewery. Even in a state that has legalized buying and selling an agricultural product that is a Federal felony to traffic, it is still difficult to sell alcohol legally.

When I ordered my first beer, however, the cute bartender asked for four dollars. Ah, well, New Belgium had returned to the present. Nevertheless, I knew that the beer was going to be quite delicious, and four dollars was quite a reasonable sum. She refused my tip, however, explaining that everyone who works there is an owner and that no gratuity was necessary. I was welcome to donate the money to some charity, but no tips are accepted. No more free beer, but there at least tips were still free.

I strolled around looking for a place to sit or someone that I might engage in conversation; I ended up on the phone with my mother. Mom too had visited New Belgium on her own Westward trip in a motorized home. I soon returned to the bar where I overheard a barkeep explaining that all of the money collected in exchange for beer was donated to charity. They had found a way to collect money. I supposed that though the money exchange had no effect on the coffers, it did have a positive affect on the clientele they attracted.

Before long a group came by my spot at the bar wanting tasters of every single beer–and the dubbels and trippels too! I said “Oh, I want to party with you.” And party we did. Before I knew it they were giving me tastes of all of their beers. I did not ask, but presumed that they had nothing orally communicable. Besides, no known pathogen can survive in beer.

It was time to move on, so I headed for Funkwerks, where Walden and I had stayed in the previous September. It was not that late, but, alas, they were closed. Next I tried Equinox, where I had met the people driving a bus to Alaska when I was on my trip, but it too was shuttered. It seemed like a sign that I should go to bed early, so I walked back across the street to Walden. I had already readied for bed, so I crawled into the sheets and went to sleep.

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2 Responses to The Final Voyage Begins

  1. Bethann says:

    When will you be in Knoxville and for how long? Or did I miss you already?

  2. pfaffman says:

    Sorry, Bethann. I’m posting this a couple or three weeks in arrears. I’m already out in San Francisco.

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