We are driving from Denver airport to Colorado Springs, and the first thing that strikes me is the quality of the light here. It’s a sharp clear day, with patches of snow by the side of the road. On one side, The Rockies. On the other, the great plains. Another aspect of this impossibly vast country. It feels different here.
This will be a full week, with lots of very early mornings, so it’s a good thing that the jet lag works in our favour. We will mostly be finished with masterclasses by noon. After two peaceful weeks in Indiana I think I might find myself trying to catch the sights. Who knows if I’ll ever be here again?
This is the continental divide, the mountains. All the rivers east of The Rockies flow east. All the rivers west of them flow west.
By the roadside, trains snake through pine forests sprinkled with white. “It came early this year,” says Jason, the driver. “Once we get a cold snap like last week we’re usually mild for a week and it all melts before another one comes. But this one came from the north. That shouldn’t happen. It might be different with this. Probably climate change. This year it’s El Niño too. It breaks against the mountains. Brings snow.” He indicates the mountains. We are much closer to them now. They huddle round us, the sun behind them silhouetting their outlines against the sky.
“There’s the Airforce Academy.” He points, and we see it right by the mountain. Of course. They’re all flying over The Rockies these training pilots. Pissing off the bears and the occasional hiker with their sonic booms. In Annapolis they were flying over the sea, mostly. We look around and notice there are tons of planes in the air. Some are towing gliders. I find myself wondering if any of us will manage to get up into the air over the course of the residency. That’d be nuts.
It’s high altitude here. We feel it right away. We are dry. A bit dizzy. When we lived in St Moritz I used to wake up and spit blood if I’d been snoring. I’d go to bed early the first few nights. Dad had a huge 1980’s humidifier by his bed up there. He could make the house vibrate with his snoring so it made sense for him to make sure the air had moisture, even though we laughed at it as kids. He still got throat cancer. He taught me to put a glass of water on the radiator. The air is dry at altitude, particularly if you’re not used to it.
Booze is more effective too, which is all very well but we’re up every morning much earlier than we’re accustomed to. I’ll be in unseasonably early tomorrow in order to teach a load of pilots about communication. Thank God for jet lag. My uk phone and my internal clock both still think I’m in Indiana so they’re telling me it’s half past ten. In actual fact it’s only half eight, so my six o’clock alarm tomorrow will ring at 8 my time. It’ll ring and I’ll rise, wipe the sleep out of my eyes … and hit the day.
I left my toothbrush in Indiana. Had to go to reception. Reminded me of my Holiday Inn ad…