Wait – isn’t that in Colorado? I thought you were going to the South Pole!
Well yes, but I’m going by way of a few days of USAP training and orientation in Colorado. I report for duty tomorrow afternoon, and today, when I found myself with a day to kill, sitting in a rental car at Denver International, looking west at snowcapped mountains under a clear blue sky, I couldn’t just go check in at the lost-in-suburbia corporate hotel.
So I drove west.
West along I-70, straight through town, and up the winding road toward the Continental Divide. Past the hogback cuts I remember from my childhood trips to the mountains – 10 milion years of geological history thrust into open air, past Genesee Park and the Buffalo Overlook – I remember all these, too. Honestly, I didn’t really know where I was going; I was just going, pulling on the loose thread of my memories and seeing where it led me.
I stopped at Georgetown around 4:00. Back when we were five cranky kids crammed into the back of our parents’ 1972 Vista Cruiser, we seemed to stop at Georgetown a lot on the way up. Bathroom break and candy bribes, before we stuffed ourselves back in for the rest of the trip up to Arapahoe Basin. This time around, the town was deserted – it’s that awkward time of year between summer and ski season, when shopkeepers take their shingle down and skip out for some vacation. But the aspen trees were having a glorious last hurrah before the snows hit in earnest, and I got to play a bit with my new camera (an Olympus EPL1). I do so love aspen trees.
I chatted up the proprietor of the general store and picked up some snacks for the road before continuing west. Soon there was snow on the hills, and a real sense of impending winter had settled in.
It was a bit after five when I reached the turn off for Breckenridge. I remembered my advice to a friend who’d been in Colorado a few months ago looking for some quiet contemplative time, and figured it was as good a place as any to stop for the night. Pulled over on Main Street, fired up Google map search on my phone and enunciated “hotel” into the mic.
The phone suggested the Abbett Placer Inn (49 recommendations, average rating 4.5 stars), a tiny B&B two blocks up the hill. I hit “call” and behold, there was room at the inn. Furthermore, the inn was a good sight cheaper than that suburban corporate holding pen I’d been booked into in Denver. Neils & Co. set me up in a cozy room with quilted covers, showed me how to use the local wifi, and pointed me at his list of restaurant recommendations. Almost too easy.
It’s now just about 32F outside. The walk back up the hill from dinner was brisk – the first real cold I’ve felt since last winter. Wait – “real cold”? Who am I kidding? In any case, tomorrow morning, I’m either going to double back and take Hwy 6 over Loveland Pass (more old memories), or head south to Fairplay and explore new roads before winding my way back down to Denver. Then check in with the USAP and get this crazy adventure started for real.
Heh, “Real cold” – yeah, right.