In 1967 my father bought a Pontiac Catalina and a dingy old travel trailer and took his girlfriend, my brother and me on a road trip. Over the next 8 weeks we drove 13,498 miles, visited 51 parks, and saw wonders like geysers, redwoods, grizzlies, and the Summer of Love in San Francisco. The trip made an indelible impression, cementing my appreciation for the natural world and the American landscape. This summer Pamela and I hope to repeat the experience for our family.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Dave: Are You My Friend?

We are supposed to rendezvous with my friend Jim Kalinski in Bluff, Utah.

Jim and I were good friends in college, and we shared a house off an on for a few years afterwards. When I lived in Boulder (actually Niwot), I was sharing Jim's place there and we worked together too.

Now it's been 28 years since I've seen him. We keep in touch with Christmas cards.

At the Recapture Lodge in Bluff (a slightly shabby but very pleasant place, by the way), I find myself studying the face of each middle aged man who passes and thinking, Are you my friend?

I'm pretty sure I'll recognize Jim, even though I've only seen a couple pictures during those 28 years.

Finally I see a red haired kid walk by. Jim has red hair. Then someone drives by in an SUV with Colorado plates. Gotta be Jim.

I get out to meet the driver. We say hello, and it sounds exactly like Jim. Only the voice is coming out of Jim's father's face. It's a little dizzying.

We're doing a tricky melding of the families. Of course, no one in my family has met Jim, his wife Kim, or their twins Amy and Quinn. The kids are the same age as Lark. But who knows how well this will go? In April I asked Jim if we could stop by their place in Niwot. Then he suggested we meet in Mesa Verde for this cool hike he knew about. Then we suggested they meet us for this interesting raft trip in Utah. Suddenly we're spending six days off and on with these people.

Just in case things don't click we decide to build in some apartness to counter the sudden bout of enforced togetherness.

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