Autumn Phillips: This column is not about Valentine’s Day |

Autumn Phillips: This column is not about Valentine’s Day

My morning routine:

Alarm goes of at 7 a.m.

Hit snooze until 7:30 a.m.

Roll out of bed. Put on workout clothes and stumble to Mountain Moon Yoga for 7:45 yoga class.

Get ready for work.

Stop by Rudi’s Deli or Winter Park Roastery for a morning cup of coffee.

Head to Granby for work.

During that 20-mile daily commute ” I have what suburban unhappies like to call “me time.”

Once I have the music turned up enough that I can’t hear the tapping of my 1992 Isuzu Trooper engine and the heat cranking, I settle into the road and my 20 minutes of daydreaming.

I think about work a bit ” mental to do list of the day.

But mostly I focus on the important things:

– Practicing my friendly rural steering wheel wave reserved for backroads;

– Replaying any important highlights from the night before if I was lucky enough to go out;

– Wondering how long I go before my next haircut, oil change or before I have to fill up the tank;

– And once I start thinking about the gas tank, I spend a few minutes feeling guilty about my carbon footprint ” which I know is as big as the redwood forest.

When people ask me about my life here, I say that I love everything but the commute to work.

Suffering is relative, I know. And if that’s all I have to complain about ” I’m luckier than 99 percent of people on this planet that I’m polluting.

Unfortunately, I think someone heard me complaining and decided this past week was a good time to teach me a lesson.

Picture my commute this time last week. Thursday.

The snow was falling as fast as gravity could pull it down and the wind was howling.

I had my hazards blinking and was driving home about as fast as I could walk.

And I was daydreaming about Arizona.

I moved to Arizona in January 2006 and reunited with an old friend from the University of Wyoming. He took me hiking ” in shorts and T-shirt. My back was still sore from all the snow shoveling I’d been doing that winter in Steamboat Springs and I couldn’t believe the weather.

My friend is a Utah native and as we hiked, he told me that he was never moving north again. After five years in Arizona, he hadn’t been sick once with a case of winter crud, hadn’t slid through an intersection or ” horrors ” had to scrape a windshield.

People in Arizona go soft ” fast ” and whenever you run into someone from the mountains who lives down there, they give you the same “life doesn’t have to be that hard” sob story about why they can’t go back.

But when people don’t suffer through winter, they don’t bond and don’t use that bond to rank themselves above those with fewer years of hardship. In Arizona, you don’t hear people use the word “local” as a veiled term for “made it through the hazing period.”

As long as you have a tan line on the top of your foot, you’re fine down there.

They just aren’t the suffering kind.

That was the course of my daydream Thursday night as I inched along the highway, leaning over my steering wheel, hoping that the path I was following was in fact the road.

The snow was like a thick, swirling fog. It would clear occasionally and I would see cars strewn along the side of the road, backward and half-buried in the snowbanks, as if the hand of winter had swept the highway clean with a whisk broom.

I finally made it home Thursday night, and that drive took a lot longer than 20 minutes.

Over the weekend, the sun came out and cleared the roads of ice and snow.

I drove 65 miles an hour for the first time in a while and enjoyed the freedom of seeing the asphalt. I didn’t complain about the drive once this week ” it was so easy.

With the sun shining, I’m free to go back to less bitter daydreaming.

Perhaps I’ll spend that free 20 minutes thinking about public transportation possibilities for Grand County. Maybe I’ll come up with a brilliant idea some morning somewhere around Red Dirt Hill and all that gas won’t be completely wasted.

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