I left the state of Georgia two days ago with my father, a packed Odysseus (my car), and two Garmin GPS systems. Did you know that most GPS systems only contain maps for half of the country? My dad's had the eastern United States in it and mine had the western. My dad's GPS could not fathom anything past the Mississippi River and mine just floated in space while I drove through Atlanta, trying to make sure I made the correct turns. Dad and I went north of GA a little ways and then headed straight west to Estes Park, Colorado, where I will be working as a Front Desk Clerk at a hotel we will call the Elk Inn (and just to throw this out there now -- that is not a code name for the famous Stanley Hotel).
Our drive went pretty well until we hit Kansas and, while beautiful, I found myself missing the cornfields and random mosque sightings of Indiana. Kansas was sunny and warm -- about seventy degrees. By the time we reached Colorado the temperature had dropped a bit and I felt silly in my flip flops and running shorts, but not totally insane. The next morning it was almost forty degrees...and sleeting...
Colorado has not quite been what I was expecting. For starters, there is snow -- everywhere. Estes park is a little over 7,500 ft high. I hear it "snows all summer" at 8,000 ft, but that Estes can get a sprinkling here and there. My leg sank calf-deep in a snow bank today and word on the elk-lined street is that we are supposed to get a foot of snow tonight. This is a sprinkling?! I feel like the two kids from that YouTube video: It's raining. No, it's sprinkling. No, it is actually snowing.
When dad and I arrived at the Elk Inn I checked-in with my new boss and was given a very brief rundown of the next few days: I will be sleeping in a room in the hotel until I clear my drug test on Monday. My boss pointed to numbered squares on a map of the hotel. "You're going to be in this building," he said, drawing a blue highlighter circle around a rectangular building that was adjacent to the rest. "It's empty right now so it'll just be you in that building." I wanted to look at him and ask, "Have you learned nothing from The Shining??" Nevertheless, I accepted the key and went to check it out.
After this brief check-in, Dad and I drove around the corner to the employee housing. The housing is a long, narrow, rectangular building. There is a small sitting room and afterthought kitchen by the entrance and then rows of doors leading to bedrooms. I found my bedroom, knocked (because I have a roommate who has already been here for a month), and let myself in. The only word I can think to describe the room is "ramshackle." First off, the doorknob just hangs from its hole in the door. It's not actually functional. There were two double beds, but it was hard to tell which one was currently being used and which was not. The room was dark except for a small, dim lamp on a tiny table between the two beds. The bathroom fan was on even though no switch was thrown and the whole place was just dark, dingy, and looked like the kind of hotel room where drug rings are busted. My heart immediately sank and I started to think, This may not work out. On my way out of Drug Ring Central I ran into three other seasonal employees, two of which will be working at the front desk with me.
Not wanting to waste our day, Dad and I grabbed some lunch and then headed into Rocky Mountain National Park. It started to snow as we pulled up outside the Visitor Center. Dad laughed and said, "Isn't this great?" I scowled and mentally calculated how long I would have to stay in Colorado in order to tell people, "See? I tried! It just didn't work out. Darn."
Although snow-covered and feeling like the middle of winter, the Rockies are beautiful. We saw some elk, drove to about 9,000 ft, and felt the impact of the altitude after climbing up a small hill.