July 16, 2006
I woke up today around 8am, and we had coffee and started breakfast. Jon and Randy had a project that they wanted to do today – there was a sailboat sitting on a trailer in front of the house, and they wanted to bring it down a hill and into the water. So I stuck around to help them.
We hooked it on to Randy’s van and started backing it down the hill (The boat ramp was a steep, gravel hill), but it was moving gingerly, with some awful noises coming from the brakes of the van. This was making him nervous, so they decided to use Jon’s jeep. Randy shifted to pull the van forward up the hill, but the wheels spun in the loose gravel. He got out of the van, and suddenly it started to slide down toward the lake! I sprung to action, quickly grabbing a hefty rock and throwing it behind the back tire before the boat and van had any more chance to slide.
We rigged Jon’s 6 cylinder 4-wheel-drive jeep to the front of the van. It had some power, and pulled the whole rig back on to level ground. After that episode of near disaster with the van almost sliding into the lake, we went inside for a break and to check on breakfast. With their nerves calmed, we rigged the jeep to the boat trailer, and Jon eased it down to the water with no trouble at all. Randy and I were standing alongside with rocks in hand, just in case.
They were waiting for their friend to arrive before having breakfast, who was arriving to join them on this fine Sunday. So they got to work on rigging the sail while waiting. I stood aside and watched. Soon the friend showed up, and we had eggs, potatoes, and bacon. While eating, I learned that one of Jon’s friends runs the Leadville 100 every year.
The Leadville 100 is a one hundred mile ultra-marathon. It’s run on an out-and-back 50 mile trail course, and is mostly (Maybe entirely) above 10,000 feet elevation. About 400 people line up at 2am on an August morning every year to begin the race. Many don’t finish, of course. I think those who do finish take around 24 hours to do it, more or less. This must be the toughest foot race in America. For those crazy people that participate every year… if you finish ten times, you get a special belt buckle. That’s one bad ass belt buckle!
After breakfast they finished rigging the sail. It was time to take Miss Budweiser on her maiden voyage of the season, and I had the privilege of going along for the ride. We floated around the lake for something like an hour, but there was virtually no wind. “Back when you started this trip, I bet you never thought you’d be sailing in Colorado!” Randy said. I’d never even been on a sailboat before… and what a beautiful day, too.
I was invited to “stay as long as you want,” and it was a little tempting to hang out another night at this idyllic spot… but I said goodbye to the guys, got some contact information for postcards, and hit the road.
The riding was great! I was thrilled from the experience I’d just had, and the roads were gorgeous. On the radio I tuned into what must have been something like “classic adult contemporary,” because I heard bruce springsteen better days, sting tears of the sun, melissa ethridge come to my window, chris isaak w/ neil diamond’s solitary man, and similar tracks. This was a nice change of pace. All the songs were slow and chill, as opposed to my usual rock and roll fix.
I was reminded today about how the other day I woke up in a motel room, and turned on the TV to see the old Bob Ross painting show on PBS. It was a typically great episode where he threw in some “happy little trees” and what not, and I remember he clearly said “Painting is a way to achieve immortality, because most can be around for hundreds of years, after you’re long gone.” He has a way of making you want to drop whatever it is that you’re doing and pick up a paintbrush. So here in Colorado, the PBS supporters still make sure Bob Ross gets air time. Gotta love it.
Tonight in Hot Sulphur Springs I’m staying at the “city campground,” where there’s free camping. As I was there having some dinner, a car pulled up, dropped off a guy with a backpack, and drove away. I forget the guy’s name, but he’d hitchhiked in, and he has apparently been on the road for years. He says he’s hiked the AT, the PCT, the CDT, and the Colorado Trail, and I don’t doubt it.
He’s about 6’4, blond, originally from Alaska, and just has that whole aura of a distance hiker… I know it when I see it. He has the swagger and even a funny way of talking to himself from being on the outskirts of society for so long. Most folks are scared of this sort of individual, because for all I know he could have been running from the law all this time… I’d bet 10 to 1 he hasn’t payed taxes for years. I’ve met a number of people like this, and can tell that they’re mostly harmless. Besides, there were plenty of other campers around, and we had a lot in common, discussing things from the “traveler’s” perspective. Life is good.