After The Coastal Swing:
Days after I returned home from my Gearhart Golf Links outing I began to mull over “The Horseshoe”, which was to be the next journey on my quest to play the oldest public golf courses in the US. This trip would mark the end of the first year of my quest, it was a 7 day, 4 rounds of golf, 5 city half circle (or more like a horseshoe shape) road trip in the middle of the country.
I would start in Toledo, OH drive to Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Kentucky, and end the road trip in Nashville for a little rest and country music. I planned this trip as a way to try and duplicate the road trip adventure James Dodson, the author of The Range Bucket List, the book that inspired me to head out on my own quest, must have felt when he threw his clubs into the back of his trunk and headed out to re-acquaint himself with American golf. My road trip was broken up into 4 hour drive intervals starting with a drive from Chicago to Toledo, I would rest overnight, play a round of golf, and drive 4 hours to Pennsylvania, rest overnight, play a round of golf ...repeat that until I got to Nashville where I would rest overnight, relax all day, and listening to music late into the evening. Well…after all my mulling I decided to modify my last trip of the year.
After my return from my two previous golf destinations, first in March at the Del Monte Golf Course in Monterey CA and then in June at the Gearhart Golf Links in Gearhart OR I’ve learned something. Besides playing golf I like to have more time to check out the towns and cities that are home to the golf courses on my list. Both times when I returned from Del Monte and Gearhart I had Played two
courses over a four day period and I was able to fully absorb my surroundings, meet some new people, and satisfy my passion for golf. Each time I felt un-rushed and fulfilled. I decided to back off and reevaluate “The Horseshoe” road trip possibly breaking the trip into two parts next year.
Because "The Horseshoe" requires long drives between historic golf courses I could play two courses over a week long trip in the Summer and then head back out in the Fall for another week and play the other two remaining courses in “The Horseshoe”. I would still make the trip to Nashville for some rest and country music. After some pondering and hours of gazing at the map in the Golf War Room I saw the next logical step forward on my quest.
I saw a new path developing, a path that would lead me from West to East across the US. I thought, “why not start my Easterly journey across the US with the next two oldest public golf courses on The List closest to me”. Colorado marked the spot, more specifically Denver and Colorado Springs. I decided to set up a long weekend in Colorado, and planning the new itinerary was going well until a few days before I was going to leave, suddenly two things came to mind; Snow and a rendezvous with an old friend.
Days Before Friday:
Having lived in the San Francisco Bay Area for just about 25 years I have long since adapted to our Fall and Winter golf season, which might be wet, sometimes, but it does not snow, and the golf courses stay open year round. A chill (a rare “pun intended” here :)) came over me as I locked down all of my travel plans and I was packing, “what if it snows, do the courses close for the winter, how far will my drive go in the thin air, and will I be able to walk a golf course at 5500 feet of elevation??”
Over the next three days I began tracking Denver and Colorado Springs weather daily, calling and emailing the courses about closures, and I was also coming to terms that I might need some motorized assistance while playing golf at 5500 plus feet. I know, I know, part of my quest goals is to walk all the courses on The List, but I didn’t account for two golf courses that have a starting elevation of about 5500 feet, I can barely drive a car past a golf course at that elevation.
The second pressing thing on my mind was that of an old friend. Once I confirmed that I was most likely going to get the golf rounds in at both Denver and Colorado Springs locations I turned my effort toward a fairly quick meet up that would take a bit of luck and some precise timing. The tough part was how to figure out if and when I could meet up, however I did know where I could meet her. To much of my surprise I found a very narrow, but manageable time to meet up on Friday at about 7pm. No problem, I arrive in Denver at 1:30pm Friday afternoon, all I have to do is allow the travel Gods to lead me through a flawless on time flight departure from SFO, have a hassle free rental car pick up, and be allowed to check in early at the hotel. If everything lined up I would be able to make my encounter on time.
As I was making my way into downtown Denver on the RTD’s E-Line and I was reflecting on how well all the travel connections and timing worked out, and the fact that I’m going to make my meet up in plenty of time. I’ll even be able to have a little dinner before my meeting at a great restaurant I visited 21 years ago.
Clearly someone wanted me to make this meeting and as the E- Line pulled into the Union Station stop I hopped off and headed for Wynkoop’s, a great little burger place with a great selection of beer on tap that they brew themselves. When I got there it was pretty crowded, and as I looked for a place to sit and I spotted an empty chair at the corner of the bar, to my amazement it was the very same bar stool I sat at all those years ago. Here is where I would prepare for the long awaited reunion.
It was time to meet. After a little research I knew where she would be, and as I made my way back to Union Station. Inside the station there was a very strong positive energy, lots of folks enjoying each other's company, tons of food and drink options that I plan to visit a little later. With my attention on Track 6 I zipped through the crowds, down stairs, through a tunnel under the tracks, and then back up another set of stairs. I pushed open the door to track 6, turned right and walked slowly toward the center of the platform before I stopped. I slowly reached my hand out and lightly touched her. I whispered “hello old friend”.
21 years ago my Mom was losing her fight to cancer and I was told time was getting short and I should come to Georgia to see her for the last time. I had about two weeks before she would be gone. I needed some time to process this strange but regular life event. I decided to take the train from California to Georgia and the first leg of the trip was going to be on the California Zephyr, a long distance Amtrak train that starts in Emeryville, Ca and terminates in Chicago, Ill. The entire trip to Georgia takes about 4 to 5 days and that would be plenty of time to get to my sister’s house, visit with my family, and figure out how to say good-bye to my mother.
The train ride was great. Very relaxing, there was plenty to see, and I was able to begin to come to terms with my Mothers mortality. It’s strange, we know we all don’t live forever, but I’m pretty sure all of us at some point in time feel like we will live forever. And I’m sure most of us might think, like I did, that if someone was going to cheat death it would be their mother...what a blow to my reality. At the point I came to that reality The Zephyr was making it’s way toward Denver.
About 115 miles before you get into the city the train begins a short but magnificent journey through Gore Canyon. As we weaved through this incredible sight everything I was feeling was washing away almost as if I was being told to let her go, be happy with my memories of my Mom. By the time the Zephyr and I reached Union Station, I was in a good place, I knew my Mom was very proud of me and my young family, she knew we had a great future. It was time for me to get ready to accept my future without my Mother, knowing the umbilical cord was truly being cut, have time to process that, I began to see and feel that in a way it was very liberating.
I lifted my hand from the train and let her go. I stepped back as the Zephyr started to pull out of
Union Station. Carrying passengers to destinations unknown and hopefully if some passengers need it the Zephyr can help those passengers in need, and hopefully come to terms with their what
ever is on their minds
Once the train turned the corner and rolled out of sight I paused for a short moment, I slowly nodded then turned to the exit door on track 6, and with a smile on my face it was time to focus my attention to my other purpose, golf.
To be continued...