When I woke up this morning, I struggled to remember the state I was in. Then I looked out the window and saw the Rocky Mountains in daylight. 

C. and I needed a break from the road, so we enjoyed the Denver Art Museum this afternoon. As I wandered through an exhibition of Flemish art, I better understood their neurotic obsession with glistening grapes, intricate lace, and water beads on lobster tails. They believed every facet of the world belonged to a divine logic; the closer we look, the nearer we might come to God. 

An exhibition of Japanese women calligraphers was filled with exquisite work and shocking stories. After her stepfather chopped off her arms, Ōishi Junkyō taught herself to paint with her mouth. When a monk told Ryōnen Gensō she was too beautiful to become a nun, she burned her face with an iron and wrote a poem: In this living world / the body I give up and burn / would be wretched / if I thought of myself as / anything but firewood.

A fingernail moon rose over the Rockies as we crossed the Continental Divide via the Eisenhower Tunnel, the highest point on the Interstate Highway System at 11,158 feet. We coasted through Vail to admire wealthy families in nice sweaters before pushing west to Colorado Springs, where we had an excellent meal at a Nepalese restaurant surrounded by Christmas lights.