On the second of the month I flew out to Denver. A research question had arisen about how people respond to the idea of raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour.
I had wanted to go back to Colorado in any case, and there were some good reasons to select it as a field site. So my videographer and I met there and spent a few days button-holing people in Denver and out in the blasted parts of Aurora - getting folks to talk about the good things and the bad things of raising the minimum wage.
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. We'd start early so we could wrap up our interviewing before the day would finish its relentless climb into the upper 90's. Then we'd deal with the data we had and figure out where to get ourselves some dinner and some beer.
We had about 50 interviews done, which what we'd promised, by the time I settled him at his hotel on Wednesday afternoon.
From there it was off to pick up the travel-weary Monica and the boys at the airport.
After day or so's interlude in Colorado Springs - where I did some more interviewing, and Porter visited a college - we tooled on up through Boulder - (another college) - and onto the lap of the Rocky Mountains.
And joined Mark, Sarah and their kids in Estes Park,
where the meadows are still in bloom, even in arid August.
My sister, Christine, flew in to join us and by Sunday morning we'd strapped on our backpacks.
We all hiked up from Bear Lake to Lake Helene,
And down into Odessa Gorge,
To a ranger cabin on Fern Lake.
Mark is a park ranger. He and the kids fished for trout. As did an osprey.
Pine martens hunted the lakeside and the cabin's stone foundation,
and I saw one make off with a ground squirrel.
On Monday we hiked to Spruce Lake and further up to Loomis Lake, in its snow-streaked cirque.
Where we ate lunch.
But only Chris and I were lunatic enough to swim with the trout in the green, frigid water.
Pikas mocked us from the talus.
On Tuesday it was time to hike back out - our packs lightened by a couple days of eating.
On Wednesday - by now we're to the 12th - we said our fond farewells,
headed up the Fall River road, and over the pass.
Saying so long to the marmots and the ptarmigan.
And we drove out along the creekish headwaters of the Colorado river
and all the way to Utah,
to pitch out tents along the Green River at Dinosaur National Monument.
Where we looked at petroglyphs and dinosaur bones.
for a day.
And then drove north through Wyoming
Looking for bighorn sheep, but they eluded us.
We camped in the sagebrush under vast and star-gritted skies,
and watched the Perseid meteors streak along the Milky Way.
On Friday we stopped in Jackson to buy supplies
and skirted the Grand Tetons which were dark purple and flickering with lightning.
To visit the geyser basins
and the wildlife
of Yellowstone National Park.
We camped at Lewis Lake for Friday and Saturday nights,
and spent the days around the park.
On Sunday afternoon (by now the 16th) we drove northwards to Coeur d'Alene.
Porter, at 17, has a learners permit and we gave him the wheel.
And then on to Seattle across the smokey plains of Eastern Washington,
where we visited with an old friend just out of surgery.
Into the Cascades, weaving a bit to avoid the fires that filled the skies sometimes with acrid haze.
Out and down along the Columbia river gorge to Portland,
where it was a withering hundred degrees, buying books and seeing friends.
And back again into the Cascades.
To chill morning hot springs along the Umpqua river
and famous volcanic lakes
until we got to old friends in Sacramento and Davis.
And delivered Porter to his school in Carpinteria,
and his view down mesa to the Pacific ocean.
By the time we flew home I'd been gone three and a half weeks and August had flown.