I got into Boulder late Sunday afternoon, after a couple of long driving days. I recommend the drive across Nevada on Highway 50 for anyone who's never seen the Basin and Range (and by the way, I also recommend John McPhee's book of that title, which describes the geology of how the landscape got that way). Desolate country, the towns 60 or 70 miles apart; you repeatedly cross broad flat dry valleys with dust devils spinning on the dry lake beds, then climb a rocky spur of the mountains to a summit (not too high in the early going, in the four-thousand-foot range, but rising to several passes in the mid-7000's as you approach the Utah border), only to descend the other side and repeat the process-- ten or twelve times as you cross the seemingly endless expanse of the state. You have to have a certain taste for bleak and stark...
Highway 50 and the Toiyabe Range, central Nevada
My plan to detour to Aspen and Leadville came to nothing, as I learned when I left I-70 at Glenwood Springs that the 12,000-plus Independence Pass between them was closed. Given the amount of driving I'd already done-- and the current state of gas prices-- I had little appetite for retracing my steps over 30 or 40 miles, as I would have had to do. So I opted for an earlier arrival, and encountered the latest eerie development in my Boulder saga:
Karyn Casl, the company manager (also an actress in the Festival) phoned me in the morning as I was leaving Green River, Utah to give me directions to the townhouses where the company is putting me up. I had stayed in Festival housing last summer when I visited Boulder, so I thought I knew where the condo complex was: at Broadway and Marine streets, a few blocks downhill from the theatre. But Karyn informed me that the company uses two different townhouse complexes, and that I was going to be in the other one: she named an address. "That's funny," I said over the phone, "that address seems strangely familiar."
I drove into town, and as I approached the complex the resonance grew stronger. I pulled up to the curb in front of the condos, and dragged out of the back of the car the box that contains my Boulder memorabilia, many of which I've brought along. I kept a diary on my first visit in 1966, and I read the account of my search for a place to live on my first day in town. I had happened on a house belonging to the mother of Donna Bartz, the Festival's costume designer, who was letting out rooms at very low rates ($30 a month!!) to company members. I had written down the house number, so as to pass it on to family and friends who might be writing to me.
It was the same address.
The house is long gone-- this condo was clearly built some time in the eighties-- but here I am, staying in the exact same location I stayed 42 years ago. I found myself actually shivering. I've perhaps made too much of my feelings of return, of the rightness that I feel coming back to The Place Where It All Began and so forth-- but I have to say, this felt uncommonly like the workings of... Fate.