Sunday, October 19, 2008

Road Trip: Day 3. Sabbatical: Day 2

Colorado looked a lot more like Colorado in Denver than the rest of Colorado did. There's a whole lot of Colorado that looks a lot like Nebraska, but here was an urban paradise surrounded by the Alps. We stopped at a shopping center with a market that we spied from the Interstate. A "whole foods" kind of market, we thought stopping there might ease the pain of not having a Trader Joe's. The parking lot was full of SUVs and 4WD vehicles with roof racks and bike carriers and people were pushing three-wheeled strollers with convertible tops and climate control. Even the cars wore their Yakima emblems like designer labels. Everyone looked young, firm, healthy and happy. It was probably a beautiful and idyllic scene until the Clampetts drove up in our dusty black beater with our Indiana plates screaming, "HEY YA'LL. LOOKY HERE!"

I felt really out of place. But we needed to replenish our supply of organic fruit and pumpkin seeds. Perhaps they'd all think we're just a couple of old hippies in Birkenstock Arizonas. The alternative was to just get back on the road before we got cited for public obesity or indecent wrinkles. We'd probably get sentenced to an AARP rehab center for liposuction, detox and Botox. If we only had the time ....

The weather also began to look a little threatening and as we headed for the Alps it did rain on us. We woke up Greta for the occasion and fired up The Kindle.

The Kindle is a sweet little device that downloads and stores books. It's about the size of a paperback but it can hold hundreds of volumes. Luddite that I am, I use it mostly to read about USC football. The Kindle also has some Internet capability so we checked the weather forecast for Grand Junction. Nothing like camping in the rain. But all the weather forecasts were clear. That didn't exactly explain the rain on our windshield, but if the Internet says so ... we called the Grand Junction KOA to reserve a tent site.

Meanwhile, Greta was searching for her satellites. When she finally connected she told us Grand Junction was 180 miles away. The Evil Greta told us it was more like 290. This dissociative personality thing was getting beyond bothersome. To make matters worse, The Evil Greta was right.

This idea of The Evil Greta being "right" and The Good Greta being "wrong" raised a moral and philosophical dilemma. In a post-modern world, both mileage readings could be right without being technically correct. After all, Grand Junction is 180 miles from somewhere. Plus, we liked what The Good Greta said and we didn't like what The Evil Greta said. Even though The Good Greta's report wasn't useful or practical, she told us what we wanted to hear. We were closer to our destination. The trip would be shorter. We'd get there sooner.

But it was a lie. Greta lied to us. In retrospect I can see all her past behaviors as displays of her spite and malice. She's a whiny, self-absorbed, obnoxious know-it-all. Thoroughly capricious and fickle and moody. She was "tricksy and false." In a better frame of mind I would've just called her "squirrelly." But neither of us was in a charitable mood tonight. I hoped the poor slob she was dating, whoever he was, would figure her out and dump her before it was too late.

As we approached the western border of Colorado and Grand Junction, after almost 1300 miles and nearly 20 hours on the road together, we felt the need to give Greta a real name. There are some cultural and religious situations where names are adopted or given that embrace the personality of the namesake or the new bearer. I think immediately of the Pope, who chooses a name with a legacy that he would like to associate himself with and perpetuate. Or the films Dances with Wolves and Namesake. In one, characters are named based on personality traits or even physical appearance. In the other, the given name evokes a memory, and maybe inspires a dream of what might be...

Greta was a fun name, but now that her true persona was emerging we felt she was deserving of a more substantial moniker.

We thought of Janus, an insignificant two-faced Roman god of beginnings and endings. Very appropriate for our journey to have Janus accompanying us. But it sounds too much like Janice and we know too many people we like named Janice. Names of legend also came to mind: Amneris, Cruella, Queen of the Night, Bride of Frankenstein, Lilith ... We even contemplated names associated with evil of Biblical proportions like Delilah and Herodias.

We narrowed it down to Anmeris and Lilith. Amneris, besides having a name with a nice exotic ring, was jealous and scheming and her devices pretty much messed up the lives of everyone around her. Lilith rolls off the tongue easily. According to the ancient Midrash (Jewish folklore), she was Adam's first wife. She was cunning and resourceful but she got into a spitting match with Adam that they just couldn't (or wouldn't) resolve. Lilith leaves and becomes the mother of all evil while Adam settles down in the garden with another woman, fairer skinned and not made from the dust of the earth. Some say they met once more beneath a tree in that same garden.

We asked Lilith how to get to the Grand Junction KOA.

We missed a turn in the dark.

"Re ... calculating."

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