The next morning, we woke up, packed up our cats and our things, I ate some THC gummies, and we were on our way. It was a clear day and the Rocky Mountains seemed bigger than ever. We drove straight west into the jagged mountains, to a town called Estes Park, not far from Rocky Mountain National Park. The drive took us from the offbeat, dusty new age shops and dispensaries on the sides of the road coming out of Boulder, directly into the Mountains. Cliffs began to tower over the winding road, and for both me and my girlfriend, the altitude issues progressed from us feeling “a little off” to truly dizzy and sick.
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It is hard to put into words exactly how different it feels to be sandwiched in the middle of the huge continent than to hug the coasts as I had done my whole life living in New Jersey, and with visits by plane to family in Seattle. It was a sense that I had used the ocean as my compass most of my life, on either coast. Now in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains and the continental divide, my internal compass was now missing its true north. I could feel the vast distance between me and each ocean.
The landscape changed as we headed west out of New York. The verdant rolling hills of the east gradually flattened out during our drive through Ohio, becoming flatter and further between peaks. It had taken us into the wide open farmland of Indiana by the afternoon of our second day on the road. It hit me that I was on a new and different planet, having never seen the Midwest with my own eyes before. I had most likely never seen that far across a landscape in my life, each side of Route 80 lined with massive farm equipment, framing endless vistas in both directions.