A brass plaque set in a Boulder, Colorado plaza sidewalk teases a time capsule with a reopening date of July 4, 2075

We caught a bus north and west out of town from a bus depot under the train station, arrived in Boulder and walked to get coffee and croissants before jaunting along the creek. On a whim, we clambered past a closed trail sign uphill to a vista point, caught a ride downhill to a teahouse, and stretched our sore legs along the main drag plaza, hitting a record store, bookstore and cafe before riding back to the city, scoring burgers near the station and collapsing at our room. More miles, but somehow less energy, whew!

A bowl of ramen at a restaurant across the street from Denver’s Union Station

We walked for five miles through several neighborhoods, striking out on street art in River North, catching a car downtown to the state capitol building and wandering along one side of things as the skies darkened, hitting a stand to repair my wristwatch hinge, waiting out rain in a cafe before checking out a couple of Tattered Cover bookstores, then threading between brief hail to sit at a happy hour and chow down in peace.

The exterior of the eastbound entry to the Moffatt Tunnel

We wound up in Denver after always having lived on this train, sliding through fractal snowy landscapes, cliffs and remote mountain towns and somehow getting higher in elevation together without actually being onboard a plane (or driving to Mount Lassen’s trailhead) by going across (or under or through) the Continental Divide. Now, we try to adjust to a larger space than a roomette, and much less rattling.

Train tracks and ties in a raised gravel bed in Winnemucca, Nev.

Arriving almost an hour before the train, we sat on the platform and covered our ears against freight traffic before our California Zephyr arrived. Then we headed eastbound, backwards and uphill, away from the bay, up through the Delta and into snowy piney stretches before settling into empty purply desert sunset. The scenery should have been the focus for all that we saw of it, but the rails remained never present, rattling under our car and rocking in a steady tempo.

A small white pot, with bright green fake plastic leaf shoots, sits on a brown fake leather stool beside a cardboard box with an orange-on-white illustration of a portable room heater’s ambient circulation

The first day of a stretch off is more theoretical than practical. Resolutions and possibilities float through the air around you, even as you consider what it feels like to miss the steady routine of war and struggle to make real rest and downtime out of everyday time. Throw in the whole ‘I’ve never done this thing before’ on top of that, and well, it’s even more of a challenge.

Sun shines down from partly sunny sky behind a five story building, casting shadow onto a city street and crosswalk.

Go stand on this corner in the neighborhood you’ve written about before and start asking people questions, bracing yourself from mean-mug glowers and questions about why you’re aiming your camera one way or another. Get mistaken for a local by another person asking questions just like you, or get told people aren’t allowed to speak to you by others. Grab a bus afterwards that gets you close enough to your desk and walk the rest of the way there.

A stretch of city street with lines of red paper lanterns hung above the roadway on wires

I rarely come over to this part of town, but I had had some hope of finding a card for a weekend thrift store camera haul. They had the card, but the camera sensor may not have been up and running. Crossing my fingers that it’ll come together or preparing for other options.

A close up from far away picture of a blue bumper sticker urging separation of church and state below a silver license plate holder

I think an under-attempted party game is taking a picture of a car with multiple bumper stickers and logos and reverse engineering a personality from a series of quotes. One could offer or solicit extra points depending on contextual clues like location, time of day and direction.

A full moon over an apartment building, seen across a nighttime parking lot from an apartment building’s balcony

Even hanging out behind a stream of high clouds, the moon’s light managed to fill the living room with a silvery and faint glow. Then I noticed the cloud that looked like a perfectly round circle and thought, that’s odd, I could stare at that until I was really late to work, and the thought suddenly seemed so pleasant that I immediately took a picture and turned away from it toward my front door.

I had to work, but I still had absolutely no business wandering through the late 20th and early 21st century, but a flea market presents you with few other options. There you are, shaking your hands to get rid of vintage goods and vinyl albums that leap toward you like bad special effects noises, jumpcutting into the fancy leather satchel that whispers how much it could hold if you just bought it too, with its enabling-ass cow-clad craftiness.