My oldest friend, Stuart, and his wife, Andrea, were my first stop in what was at the time warmish, sunny, and bright Colorado. By the next morning it was freezing cold, bright, and sunny Colorado. I went up to Denver with Stuart for the day, indulging in hot chocolate and a giant salad, wandering downtown, looking into shops, and catching up on years of news in between business calls for Stuart. It was one of my favorite days on this trip.

After a couple of nights with Stuart and Andrea, I made my way toward a house sit in Denver. The homeowners couldn't leave for 2 1/2 days because of a huge storm that made its way into Denver overnight, which caused the airport to close and their flight to be repeatedly canceled. I had my own space, but it was a little awkward.

The house sit was pretty standard, nothing exciting, just a gentle old cattle dog who eventually warmed up to me, a few trips into town to replenish groceries, and, when I suddenly remembered that my cousin (with whom I stayed in Nashville) now lived in Denver, a trip to see the holiday lights at the Denver Botanic Gardens.

I didn't ever settle in Denver; I was already looking ahead to Salt Lake City, anticipating a crazy drive through a major winter storm, fussing about everything that could possibly go wrong. I had originally planned to see many friends who live in the mountains, but couldn't because of the weather and my super tight schedule, so I was in a holding pattern, just waiting to leave. On Christmas Eve I got up before dawn, said goodbye to Clover, and hit the road for Utah, equal parts anxiety, relief, and anticipation.