I've inserted pictures to help this piece flow. To see all the pictures in full screen, see the bottom of the post for complete gallery.
We were in route to the New Orleans airport. We decided to enter the city from the North, going over the Lake Pontratrain Bridge, a first for me and no doubt the best entry point considering the information that was just relied to me. Lyle Stephens and Julia Reyes were sitting up front.
“New Orleans is hosting the annual gay pride parade,” Lyle said. “We’ll probably have better luck from this route. “
We had made good time in getting to the airport, only being slowed down briefly by the parking lot that was too full to house another vehicle. We were in line with two other cars, debating whether or not we should find another lot. The woman at the booth said all the neighboring lots would be filled, and claimed even the airport parking was slammed. The convoy waited by, hoping a few returning passengers would come back to retrieve their vehicles and free up some space. Sure enough, our patience paid off just as we were about to pull away. We made it into the airport with two hours left till departure. Caring only back packs, and having already checked in online, we moved directly to TSA and made it to our gate with time to spare. We sat down for a quick bite at a Copeland’s close by to where our plane would be coming in. Just as I finished my Catfish Po-Boy, our zone was called for boarding. As I stepped on the plane I noticed a picture of a raccoon looking down from a snow covered tree. The caption read: “You are flying with Rudy today”.
“Please don’t tell me the pilot is a raccoon,” I told the young flight attended as we boarded.
“No, that’s just a sign. We have a human pilot flying us today.”
The plane ride was a brief one at two and a half hours. I had just finished the book I was reading that day, “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil”, and had nothing else to read. I instead resolved to silent contemplation as the passenger next to me looked more interested in napping than conversing. About half way through the flight, I pulled out my iPod to pass the remaining time with Hendrix being my primary listen before switching to a podcast about life coaching. It was around 10pm Mountain Time when we touched down in Denver.
We were met by Ryan Vanskiver in the lobby and made for his vehicle with midnight not too far off. Crossing the Denver city, I could see many of the landmarks that were becoming increasingly familiar to me from my previous Colorado experiences. Not wasting any time, we threw our bags into the apartment where we’d be staying and made for the Lakewood downtown area. We stopped into the Baker Street Pub and Grill to grab some food and listen to some live music. Among the foods tried: Chicken Nachos and Shepherd’s Pie. Later that night, we walked out to exam the large center area of downtown, which had chairs and tables everywhere, but, in the winter season, converts to a skating rink for the residents of Lakewood to enjoy. No doubt a great way for kids to pass the time while parents make their purchases in the surrounding shopping district.
When we woke in the morning, everyone but me took for the shower and changed their clothes. I remained in the clothes I left New Orleans in, which was also my sleeping attire: A pair of Express jeans and a casual blue button down. I laughed and vowed to not shower until the situation truly called for it. Equipped with only what I could fit in my book bag, I decided I was here to rough it out. After bagels and coffee the next morning at Einstein’s, we set our course for Denver’s downtown area. We walked about 16th street for a time, soaking in all that the city had to offer. One notices fairly quickly that there are no benches or seats along 16th, no doubt to keep pedestrian traffic flowing, and as a clever way to get people into stores to make purchases. The Coloradoans, who are some of the healthiest, most active people in the country, don’t seem to mind the extra demand to be in motion.
Julia suggested we stop into some local galleries to see some art. We visited several establishments, including the Denver Museum of Contemporary Art. Here are a few pics. Check out the cool egg huts we found on the roof level of the DMCA. Lined with grass on the interior, these bubbles are designed to block out sound and create a sense of isolation. Perfect for reading or napping in the city. Reminds me a little bit of isolation tanks!
“Do you like carrots?” She asked.
“I love carrots.”
She waved me aside from the gate I had been positioned next to, opened the latch, and stepped inside. I followed behind her.
“I’m one of the volunteers who helps with the park, particularly this garden. We plant all kinds of things here as the seasons change.” She pointed out all of the vegetables and told me what each one was. Bending over, she pulled out a small carrot from the ground and handed it to me. I thanked her, admiring my new ediable souvenior. She produced another three more. “For your friends,” she said. I thanked her again and we stepped out of the garden. I had just been considering a day trip to either Colorado Springs or Fort Collins in my brief stay, both locations being a little over an hour away, Colorado Springs due south of Denver, and Fort Collins to the north. I questioned the woman as to which she would recommend. Colorado Springs being a more conservative, military based town, and the woman being a little older in her years, I expected her to suggest this location. When I put the question to her, she gave me a look and said, “Well, you know Fort Collins is a college town right?” I confirmed I did know. She nodded and simply said, “That’s where I’d go.”
We decided to experience the Light Rail Service, which ran from Lakewood to Union Station downtown. A short drive put us in the Lakewood parking station for pick up. We became confused trying to make out the train’s maps, and resorted to asking a passerby what we should do. He appeared to be of Sicilian decent, his lively manner of communicating seemed to reflect the assumption. He wore a book bag and a black hat, appearing to be an accustomed pedestrian of the Denver area. He showed us the ticket vendor and instructed us on where to get off and what bus to take once we arrived to get to the festival. We later caught up with him while waiting around for the train on the upper platform. He stated he was from Chicago and had moved to the Denver area a few years ago. When the train pulled up we piled in and I could see the man taking a seat not far behind us. A few minutes later, when a man sitting across from us exited the Light Rail, the Sicilian man moved up to take his place as he finished up a phone conversation. When he was done I turned to him once again to confirm our route, as we were still struggling to remember the details.
He waved his hand and explained it was easy, repeating the steps once more. We talked for a few more minutes and shared our experiences thus far in the city. He agreed that Colorado was a place like nowhere else and expressed his content in being there. At one point, he stopped mid-sentence and looked at me directly.
“You smoke bud,” he asked.
He held up a finger and then plunged it into his book bag. He produced a small green container and handed it to me. An ink pen marked a white label as “Chemical Cookies”. I opened the lid to find a perfectly pre-rolled stick inside.
“That’s the highest strain of THC you can get here. It’s the only thing I buy. Really good stuff.”
“You don’t say. Interesting.”
I began to hand the green tube back to him.
“Nah, you keep that,” he said shaking his head. “I got another one for myself.”
“Oh. Well that’s very kind of you.” Within another minute he stepped off the train and disappeared into the night, his book bag over his shoulders.
We made the next stop at Union Station. We followed the crowd and began walking toward were we thought the buses would shuttle us to the festival. I stopped along the way to take a picture of a water pad that dozens of people were playing around. However, when I began taking shots, the result became a jumble of multi-colored lights across each picture that suggested my phone’s sensors were faulty. This bothered me, as I still had two more days for taking pictures, and my phone was a crucial device for getting the job done. Luckily, I had a secondary Canon Powershot, which I kept in my pocket. It would be my primary for the rest of the night…or so I thought.
We eventually found our way into the festival which had only an hour left. We began walking the street lined with vendors. A diverse crowd of children, teenagers, and adults moved lesiruely along the various pathways, taking in the last of the night’s major atractions. Not far off, on one of the larger green spaces, a band was playing their closer.
At one point, I hiked up some stairs that overlooked the area, stopping short of the top where a group of almost a dozen people stood around. I snapped a few shots with my Powershot and turned to go up the rest of the way. I bound up the dimly lit stairs with a spring in my step to cut through the middle of the group that was standing around chatting…not realizing that there was in fact one more step to take notice of. In my sandals, I slammed my right toe directly into the hard concrete of the final, slightly smaller step. My camera dropped from my hands and I took several unbalanced, half jog steps forward as I tried to recover from a near face plant. I could hear the group of men silent behind me. The pain was instantanoues and I swore aloud as I turned to face them.
“Man, that shit stings,” I said as casually as I could.
“You alright there,” one of the men asked with his hands tucked away in his pockets.
“Ya,” I said coming back to them and bending over to pick up my camera. “You think you got’em all and then that last one comes out of nowhere.”
“You sure you’re okay?”
“Ya, it’s all good man.” I can feel a warm, sticky sensation running down between my toes and my sandals. “I can guarantee you that won’t happen next time.”
I made my way back down, not sure whether I should be focusing on my toe now covered in blood or my camera that was now no longer functional. My attention went to the camera. When I realized it would no longer be serving me for the remainder of the trip, I began to look over my foot. Under a vendor’s street light, I could see my toe nail didn’t look so much bent back as it did shattered at the tip. A dark purple patch had formed under the very center of the nail. Blood was seaping from the front and all down the right side.I felt a slight pressure when I used the foot to step with. A vendor produced two napkins and I pressed it against my toe. The rest of the group was grabbing food, so we agreed to sit down under a tent with benches for a while. Lyle graciously gave me two tacos, which I ate with one hand while the other remained pressed against my toe. After eating, I looked around for something to wipe my hand with.
“Does anyone have a napkin,” I began to ask before remembering my situation. “Oh wait, never mind.” I wiped my hand on the exposed ends of the two napkins at the end of my right foot and said no more. Standing up from the table, I could feel that walking on the foot proved to be easy enough, as long as I took my time. I left it to the group to find a bar. Somehow we ended up diverging from 16th street which had buses shuttling back and forth; to a bar that was several blocks away. It was a slow, somewhat demanding walk but the blood seemed to have stopped, so I had little to be bothered by besides an occasional soar pressure sensation.
As if sensing our predicament, a man on a bike pulling a two seater cart stopped next to us, facing the direction of our destination.
“Need a ride?”
We explained our situation and he confirmed my thoughts on the bus. At this point he looked to be our fastest extraction. He quoted us a price and the group agreed to board with him. The only problem was the seating arrangement. Julia had no problems sitting in Lyle’s lap. That just left me and Ryan.
“There’s gotta be a way we can make this work without looking ridiculous,” I said from the side walk as Ryan climbed up and took his seat next to them, leaving no room for anyone else. He gave his knee a slap and began to sing, “People let me tell you bout my beeest friend.” Before I knew it, we were riding through downtown Denver, Julia and I perched up high over Ryan and Lyle. One by one we took turns commenting on how stupid this spectacule must appear. Our joking was only cut short when a car from our three o’clock suddenly pulled out at an intersection, heading directly at us. Being on the high side of cart it was bound to collide with, I had a front row seat at our potential demise. Our voices rose up in unisen as we saw the car coming closer with no intention of stopping. Without a word or air of concern, our driver made a sharp turn that spun us to the left in a large 360 degree, the car just going past our right side. We all continued laughing, though with a more nervous air. We were safe within another minute as the cart pulled up just outside Union Station. We would live to walk the city streets another day.
I woke up in a particularly unattractive state. My clothes, still on from Friday’s departure, were in noticeably bad shape. The hair on the right side of my head was sticking up wildly in the air while the other side showed it had undoubtedly been under a hat for many hours. I smelled. I rubbed the hair on my face as I stirred and gave a low grumble at the thought of going another day like this. Lyle, Julia, and Ryan came into the living room where I was getting up.
“We’re probably gonna take a quick shower and then head downtown to meet some friends for brunch,” Lyle said. I intentionally slurred my words while coming out of sleep, sounding a little like a drunken person when I jokingly shamed them for their practical hygiene rituals.
“You tourists and your damn showers!”
“Stefan man, what are you trying to prove?”
I turned to Ryan with still waking eyes. “I’m starting to think I should ride this train out just so I can keep this cool new hairdo.”
Ryan looked at me a little dumbfounded. “Stefan…take a shower.”
We laughed but my condition was getting pretty serious considering these people had to share a temporary space with me. I hung my head in mock sorrow.
“Okay you guys.”
Fifteen minutes later I was standing in the living room again with a new shirt and a pair of jeans.
“See, now doesn’t that feel better,” Lyle asked.
“I don’t like it! I feel like a poser!” I retorted. In secret, since I am very much a cleanly person, I did appreciate that fact that I no longer smelled funny.
I had decided Sunday would be a day of solo hiking for me. I had been scanning over various trails that lay to the west of Lakewood near the Rockies. I picked a point on the map: Morrison. It appeared to be the closest and would surely have a number of trails to keep me occupied for the day. Ryan was due for work from noon till after sun down. I figured I could stick it out around the mountains until he returned for me. Lyle and Julie, on the other hand, took for the city to meet up with friends for brunch. Just as I was about to walk out the apartment I decided I should take a weapon of some kind. Ryan appeared to have no practical blade, so I went to the kitchen and opened the first utility drawer I saw. Among the tools inside, I found half a handle and the blade to a pair of scissors. Who knows why it was still there, but I supposed it would do nicely for a temporary shank. I pocketed it and walked out into the late morning.
As we pulled into Morrison, I was not entirely shocked to see Red Rocks Amphitheatre was right in the area where I had planned to begin my journey. I had visited the spot once before, two years ago when I had done my first bit of real traveling around the city of Denver. I checked my backpack. I had three apples, two bananas, a few granola bars, my canteen, and a few miscallneous items. I had hoped to bring some water bottles but this was all I had for the time being. This I would have to make last for the whole day. We pulled into the south end parking lot. Dozens of other people could be seen getting out of cars to hike the trails and go up into Red Rocks themselves. I opened the door and took note of the growing heat as I scanned the high grounds. It was 10:30.
“I imagine I will be around this area most of the day,” I told Ryan. “If I do go any further, it will most likely be north of Morrison, toward Golden. I will try to keep you posted as best I can.” We talked for a minute more and then he pulled away. I made my way up the stairs to the theatre’s main stage. It was a lively scene with many people there to run the stairs and see the legendary grounds. A cleanup crew was near the stage preparing for the show that would take place that night. Only a few hours ago, comedian Brian Regan had been here for a Saturday night showing. I pulled out my camera and took some shots. I began to consider my battery life as my phone would be my only means of communicating, navigating and taking pictures. My current reading was 80%, but I knew it would drain quickly if not used conservatively. Sure would be nice if my Powershot was still working, I thought. I made my way down the other end of the main stage and found the Trading Post. This was a merchandise spot with restrooms and a water fountain. I used both, taking care to drink more water than I wanted at the water fountain and cleaning all three of my apples in the bathroom sink, since I had neglected to do so earlier before heading out. When I was ready, I began walking north along the road to the trail openings.
About a half hour later I was looking at a distant view of Golden. The path then cut into a small valley into the mountains where I temporarly lost sight of the road, the mountains closer than ever on both sides. I became acutely more aware to the fewer number of people around me as I got further from Rock Rocks Amphitheatre. The trail became hushed between the landforms that rose up around me and the brush became more prominent. I removed the one scissor blade from my backpack, loosened the strap on my left shoulder, tucked the blade between it, and fastened it tight so the handle faced me. The broken tool’s edge was barely visible from the other side of the strap. At first I had positioned it downward, but when I realized the blade was in direct line with the basilic vein of my bicep, I quickly adjusted it to avoid an unfortunate accident. I took a few more pictures and continued on until a found a split in the path. I took to the right on Morrison Trail which came up sharply to a more elevated plateau. From here, I found a diveriging path that went around the side of the mountain face to look back over the town of Morrison. That’s where I found these left behind man made markers.
I figured if I was getting tired it would be best to continue on so that I would not be caught on the mountain side without any supplies. I still had two apples left, which would suffice if I ran out of water, which was fast approaching as my canteen had only about a quarter left. In the back of my mind, I was hoping I might find a rest area up ahead and a water fountain. I kept going, the path was turning inward and edging toward the northern most point of the mountain. As I understand it, I was now close to the beginning of what was known as Matthew’s Winter Park. At one point, the trail became very tight with chest high brush that closed in on the path. Visibility became tough and I slowed my pace to listen to the environment around me. I heard no people, but there was a great deal of rustling among the growth. As I walked, I practiced drawing my shank a few times to make sure I had the motion down. I would reach my right hand up and rest it over my left pectorial, the middle finger looped inside the handle, with the rest of my fingers slightly spread like a spider. With one swift movement I could flick the blade from its holding and have it tucked under my palm in reverse grip with little effort. The thick brush subsided quickly and the path came out to look over the same trail further down, running north, deeper into Matthew’s Park. I was about to come to the spot where Red Rocks Trail meets Morrison and runs back south, up the mountain to its peak, and back down the other side to head back in the direction of the Amphitheatre. Two men were about to pass me by going the direction I had just come. I asked them if it was far to the top. They told me it was not. I was feeling tired and my water was down to just a few sips to keep my mouth wet. I ate another apple but it didn’t do as much for me as I’d hoped. The day was at its hottest and there was very few places to hide from the sun. Taking the mountain’s peak would be a fair and final challenge, as the trail elevated quickly. I examined it once more from the bottom, then looked at the trail running into Matthew’s Park. Just a short time ago, I had thought I would spend a few hours exploring this trail as well to pass the time. Now, I was standing at rest, panting slightly, wondering how I would ever manage such a walk at this time of day with what little supplies I still had. Even with the mountain peak so close, I was beginning to contemplate turning around the way I came to backtrack, where I knew the path would be easier.
After thinking it over a few minutes, I started up the steep side of the trail to the top. Within the first couple minutes I was out of breath and twice my hand wanted to reach for my water, but I knew I would be out if I did so. I tried to recall what my map looked like when I viewed the aerial shot from before, but couldn’t recall. I had no idea how many times this trail would wind back and forth to make its way to the peak. A few minutes later, I came to a stop and looked back down the way I came, then again to the path running deeper into Matthew’s. I wondered if there was a parking lot and rest area in that direction. I looked back up to the mountain’s top, in the direction where the sun was currently positioned, a giant foe that sought to deny me its seat. Its rays seemed unfiltered as they beamed down from me with the intensity of a broiling oven. I was out of my element in this kind of dry heat. In Mississippi, I imagined what I would be experiencing in similar a situation. Dying of dehydration or exhaustion in the south’s unforgiving humidity, covered in sweet as it is pulled from the body. Here, I envisioned it feeling much more like an extreme hangover in which I would be found dried up and baked out. If I keep going like this, we’re going to have a problem, I thought. I came to the mountains to be at the mercy of mother nature, and I would honor its many faces. I turned my gaze away from the peek I would not see on this particular trek and made my way back down the path I had come.
When I got back to the split path, I observed the northern path into Matthew’s. Just then, the two men I had just spoke to were coming back from the trail I had come in on.
“Second thoughts,” the first man said.
“I think I’ve gone far enough for one day. I’m not use to the terrain and I’m out of water. I still have a long way to go and I don’t want to get caught out here without supplies.” I pointed to the northern path which had a few hikers going around its bend. “Does that trial lead to a parking lot or a rest area? Maybe a water fountain?” The man shook his head. “There’s a lot, but no water.” I made a small noise of acknowledgement. I would have to take my original path back all the way to the Trading Post for water.
“Here, why don’t you take mine,” the man said removing his backpack bladder. I put up my hand in protest, “No, no, that’s okay, I don’t want to leave you in a rough position.” He shook his head, “It’s nothing. We are actually over prepared and have more than we will need. Our hike is almost done for the day. I’d rather it go to good use.” This was a gesture I greatly appreciated. The man was juggling his own canteen and trying to remove his backpack at the same time. He reached out with his bottle to the other man who was standing just behind me. “Can you hold this for me babe?” The other man, who I had not looked at directly till just now, was certainly not the man’s son as I had thought might be the case before. This other man now spoke to me for the first time as the other began pouring water into my canteen.
“You’ve come a long way for a Mississippi boy.”
“Oh yes,” I said, keeping my attention on the flowing water in front of me, not wanting a single drop to go wasted from missing its target, “this is all new territory to me.”
When the first man finished pouring, he slung his pack over his shoulders again. “Well, at least now you won’t die of dehydration.” I thanked them again and took off back down my path. As we parted, the man commented on the hours left till sundown, no doubt to make sure I didn’t find myself in another equally bad position in which cold, frigid winds from the Rockies would likely find me, showing me yet another dangerous face of the mountains character.
My battery was showing about 25%. I had left it on for a time in between taking pictures. It had drained considerably, especially from use of the GPS which I had been using earlier to find my exact location and route. I hiked back with my canteen in hand for the first fifteen minutes, drinking regularly. I was not even half way back before I had almost emptied it again. I drank it to the bottom, not worried about running out at this point. I would be at the Trading Post in a little over an hour if I did not stop. This required a little will power to press forward, as previous hiking around the city from the last two nights and most of yesterday had taken its toll. When I finally arrived back at the North end parking lot, I had about 15% and my water was depleted. I recalled the woman at the register in the store saying the show tonight would call for a shut off of the roads around Red Rocks. Only concert goers would have access. I made my way down to the trading post, where, in the back yard behind the building, a wedding was in progress. Bystanders peered on as the bride and groom made their commitments in the heart of Red Rocks.
I started off down the new trail, my legs feeling a little sore to walk again after having rested for a while. About five minutes into the walk, I realized if this path didn’t lead to the south end, I would have to back track all this way, a situation I did not want to find myself in, as this would undoubtedly put Ryan late for work. I began to jog down the path and could feel my shoulders becoming tired from carrying my book bag all these days. A few minutes later, it became evident that this new trail was not leading to the south parking lot. I had asked two other hikers along the way, but neither seemed to know what I meant when I inquired about the lot. Okay, I thought, they must not be locals. Now, I realized I was the one who looked like a tourist. I gave a grunt, spun around, and started jogging in the opposite direction, my pace quickening. I pulled out my phone and squinted under my cap to see the screen. Less than 10% battery. I called Ryan again while still running. “Listen, your going to have to locate the Trading Post on your GPS or something. This path doesn’t go to the parking lot and I have to back track to get to where I was originally. How are we on time? Are you okay with work?” I could hear the uncertainty in Ryan’s voice. He was very close by and commented on the traffic coming from the mountain. Just as I was about to tell Ryan to leave me and come back after his shift at nine, he pulled up to blocked gate with a posted attendant. “Hold on, let me talk to this guy.” I slowed my pace for a moment to catch my breath. Ryan came back on, “Okay, he’s letting me through. I’m getting closer.”
“Good, I’m gonna let you go because I gotta keep running. It’s gonna take me another five minutes to get back there.”
I hung up and started running again. I passed one of the hikers I had spoken to earlier. “Not the right way,” she asked. “Not for me,” I said without stopping. The trail went up and I began to climb a set of stairs. When I reached the top, the trail cut across the road briefly to continue on to the Trading Post. Preparing to cross the road, I was almost hit by Ryan’s car as he came around the corner. I threw my hands up and he pulled over to the side, traffic still behind him. I climbed in and we backtracked down the mountain. My adventure for the day was complete.
Our last day in Colorado would be spent in Boulder. The plan was to go down to a breakfast and lunch restuarnat called Dot’s Diner On The Hill that I had been exposed to the last time I was in Colorado almost a year ago. After that, we would make a brief visit in with Will Lammons (see Coastal Noise Podcast #50 ) who had just moved to the Boulder area a month ago. Just the day before, I had called Will to see if he’d be interested in going on a hike with us up into one of the nearby mountains. I was shocked to discover that since I had last talked to him that Saturday, Will had been in an accident involving a motorist while riding his bike. A woman at an intersection hit him from the side, sending him flying, with his bike going under the vehicle completely. Boulder is notorious for a higher number of cyclist accidents, as the town has a very active community. From the looks of his condition, Will was fortunate to have walked away sustaining only what injuries he had.
We drove up the western side of Denver, making our way through Morrison and Golden. We reached Boulder in under an hour and seated ourselves in Dot’s before ten o’clock. Most everyone ordered some form of eggs, biscuits, meats, and hashbrowns, with Julie opting for a bowl of delicious looking granola cereal and Ryan upping the ante with banana pancakes on top of his main order, which he shared among the group. Organic coffee and crème was served to all. We happily ate with the rest of the patrons who filled most of the diner’s inside and outside seating. Business had not slowed down for Dot’s since I had last visited.
We stopped in with Will to see how he was fairing and to talk about his experiences in town. He had made a big jump in coming out here and seemed to be rushing to catch up with school, housing, and social affairs, but overall was in good, positive spirits as always. From his living room, a large window facing out to the south displayed a scenic view of the mountains. He wore two casts on both forearms from his collision yesterday, but seemed to be in functional shape otherwise. He was reading through various texts when we arrived. Lite music played from a speaker on the floor next to his sofa. We talked for half an hour or so and then bid him farewell so we would have plenty of time to take to the mountains and see more of the area.
Our main attraction for the day was Mt. Sanitas on the lower west side of Boulder, recommended to us by a local Denver transplant and home state connection, Kenton Norris. As we made our way up to the parking lot, we passed a gated pathway that looked very familiar to me. After parking and looking at the area map, I realized that the mountain we were about to ascend was the first mountain I had ever ventured up in Colorado almost four years ago. I was excited to revisit it, reconnect with old memories, and share the mountains tucked away views with my friends. The hike was much more pleasant at first than my expereicne yesterday, mostly due to the calm, breezy weather and abundant shade coverage, thanks to the many trees that lined the trail. We weren’t without our difficulties however. Ryan was forcing himself to work extra hard having only brought one 12oz bottle of water and no additional supplies. Julia on the other hand, was attempting to climb the mountain with the only shoes she had, a pair of Converse All Stars. In the end, the mountain would make us all pay our dues in some form. We began hiking up before noon, sharing the trail with a good number of people. At first, the way was a series of high step ups, then a period of smoother, steady inclines. Before long we were met with the mountain’s most difficult part. A section which was a particularly steep ascent with less footing on the smooth, red rock surface. It’s areas like this that often forced us to use our hands against the ground to balance and make the climb more manageable. A wrong misstep could have you sliding or create a scenario for a twisted ankle. We made several stops along the way up, but it was after this section in particular that we were most grateful for the shade and a fallen tree for sitting, pointed out to us by a seasoned local. From this angle, we could see off into the western mountain line a little better. Clouds gathered around their distant tips and an advancing breeze cooled us down as we worked to regain our breath. After a few pictures of our progress, we continued on with the peek not far away. Within another twenty minutes we had reached the top. A small crowd, dogs, and the occasional wild chipmunk crowded the small clearing. From this vantage point, we could see clearly down over all of Boulder, its distant northeastern neighbor Gunbarrel, and all the way to the barely visible outline of the city. It was a grand sight, just as I had remembered it four years ago in the slightly colder conditions of October, but it was the view from behind us that stole our attention. Gathering like an ominous sign, dark rain clouds blocked out the blue skies from the west as the wind picked up to its strongest gust yet. A forbidding breeze that seemed to single us out as it rushed passed us on Sanitas secluded peek. We would have no time to enjoy our victory up there on the Mt. Sanitas secluded clearing.
“Don’t stare directly into it!”
This made for two days in a row I had gone seeking adventure and had gotten a bit more than I bargained for, but I felt no desire to wish for a lesser experience.
A made a quick call to Will for his opinion, and he pointed us in the direction of Sancho’s, a small eatery inside one of Boulder’s malls that boasts fresh from scratch authentic Mexican style food. I went with two traditional tacos, one steak and the other a vegetarian style wrap. Lyle and Julia split an entrée of beans, rice, and selfmade tacos with their choice of meat. Ryan won this round with his discovery of a New York buritto that was stuffed with beans, meats, fillings and, the most impressive feature, French fries. Well played Sancho’s.
We left Boulder the way we came in and, for the third time in my life, I watched one of my favorite places in the country fade from view, quietly nestled against the foothills of the Colorado Rockies.
The night after our travels through Boulder, we spent the evening relaxing at the apartment, watching a show that we were all sufficiently hooked on called Narcos. After the second episode, I deemed it the programming that would fill the whole in my heart that Breaking Bad left behind. As I am finishing up this travelogue on the 14th of September, I am already eight episodes deep and still watching. The next morning we made for our 12:20 flight out of DIA. Driving closer to the airport, we all took special care to observe the unusual facility. I am now conveinced more than ever that DIA is a preimer location for the conversion of a military complex. I could rant on and on about why I think this is, but all the information is already avalible online for those who seek it. It is the second largest airport in the world, it contains huge underground complexes, miles of open roads to cover before accessing the building itself, large man-made geographical structures and mounds for strategic positioning, international accessibility to and from, a large natural barrier in the form of the Rockies themselves to protect from nuclear blasts or invasion from our unprotected western coast, a large number of solar panels for plenty of backup power, apocalyptic artwork and free mason symbols in the terminals, the red eyed horse of revelations out front…the list goes on and on. Seriously, go check it out. I’ve looked into it here and there over the course of several years. The more one looks, the more it all makes sense. Fortunately, we got on our plane without any sign of empending nuclear distruction. We would arrive back in the south with little issue.
Once back in New Orleans, we made east for Mississippi. It was close to rush hour, so we made quick to get out of the city. Once across the bridge and into Slidell, we began considering options for dinner. Our time in Colorado had passed, but that didn’t mean we had to slump back into the mondane of typical fast foods. Another Google search showed all the restaurants in the area with ratings. I found a spot called The Southside Café with favorable reviews. We pulled in to the parking lot, only a five minute detour from our original path. Inside we were treated to an elaborate atmosphere of WWII memorobila and snappy bar accessories (A sign above the center bar read simply: Shut up and eat). We spotted an M1 Garand and an AK47 hanging from the rafters, as well as two individual newspaper clippings, signaling the beginning and end of the war. Model planes and pictures of military personal hang all around. A look over the menu proved making a dinner deicison would be difficult.
This concludes my travelogue to Colorado. Thanks for reading. I hope my accounts have provided you with a glimpse into places you have yet to visit or given you insight into new possibilities for the familiar. Follow me online and lets continue discovering together.