Interminable flatness slowly but surely gave way to rolling hills covered in scrub and my pulse quickened in anticipation. Any minute now, I would see the mountains. Any minute.
Any minute. It wasn’t until about 20 miles outside of Denver that definition sharpened the hazy blue edges of the peaks.
About 2.5 hours outside of Denver I needed to stop for more coffee, or something. I had been wishing for a rural trucker’s outpost, a sticky honky tonk, an aluminum diner. This place rose out of the brush like a beacon. I dared not take pictures inside Lucy’s Place– to commit such an act would deface holy ground. Blasphemy against a dying Americana. The wood paneled walls surrounded a small mixture of wooden-slat booths and turquoise stools along the bar. A wall of mismatched regulars’ mugs hung on the wall adjacent to floral print curtains. Hand written signs were taped to the wall: “QUILTS FROM LUTHERAN WOMENS LUCY CIRCLE.” “PICTURE TAKEN BY JEFF JOHNSON IN ALASKA. HE WAS JUST FEET AWAY.” Feet away from the great whale breaching out of arctic waters. “HOT CHOCOLATE $1.25. CAPPUCCINO $1.75.”
A woman I presumed to be Lucy was chatting on the phone, taking a bakery order, while a round man with a walrus mustache came from behind the kitchen to see what I wanted. Scrambled eggs, bacon, and coffee were in order. Moments later, perfect eggs landed in front of me with a “young lady.” Lucy asked me about a coffee refill and I declined for the sake of sleep. However, I noted, looking at her tanned leather face, I’d been driving since Monday from D.C. and needed just enough to make it to the end of the journey.