We kick off our time in Colorado with some special family time. This post will step away from our quest momentarily and provide a brief summary of our time together. There’s still a little drama though, as Mom nearly burns off my hand and we visit the place that is unequivocally the best thing on planet Earth.
Ok. First off, I’d like to start with a bit of an apology. Upon reading my last post about New Mexico, I really don’t like it. It comes off as negative, poorly planned and even a touch egotistical. It really doesn’t seem to fit with my other writings. Normally when I’m trying to say something with any complexity, I will outline it and form a coherent thought. Many paragraphs in that post just read like a vomiting stream of consciousness.
I hope I made it clear that there is nothing to dislike about Santa Fe, or New Mexico in general; it was just that my visit there did not match the lofty expectations that I held for the place. There is obviously a lot to like there, I just didn’t connect with it this time.
That said, some of you left some very nice comments, so I am very confused. Thank you all for sticking with me as I continue to try to find my voice and develop as a storyteller. I can already tell that the following updates will have a more pleasing tone. 🙂
As penance for my actions, I will attempt to go two posts without calling this blog a “quality publication.”
Alright. It’s time to talk about my time in Colorado. I will do this in two or three updates. This first one will talk about some of the non-quest-related activities of my special time in the state. This will be more of a personal post and I will return to the quest next time.
The mountains of this colorful state were to be the stage of the 2019 Anderson family reunion. We invaded from all corners, with Canadians arriving from the skies, myself slipping through the southern border and a Nebraskan caravan crashing in from the east.
Originally, we had planned this get together as a celebration of my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary. Though my Dad was no longer with us in person, nothing would have made him happier than to know that we were still getting together to celebrate each other. He was definitely with us in spirit during our week together.
Most of us, including yours truly, arrived on July 27th. I stopped only briefly to consume some pizza I’d taken with me from Red River, NM. An old baseball dugout provided a nice, shady dining room.
After bouncing up the rough road to our cabin, my nephew, Calvin, greeted me with some festive dancing. 🙂
Our cabin was just outside of Fairplay, measuring in at a whopping 11,300 ft (3,444 m) of elevation. The altitude caused us a few issues, but we did pretty well for a bunch of flatlanders.
Other than my brother, Smiley, we were a full crew. Even Grandma was able to come along for the trip. As always, she is a welcome addition to any crowd.
The days passed quickly while we were here. Between games, hikes, great meals and meaningful conversations, there were a lot of pleasant experiences to keep the time flying.
Our visit also coincided with the “Burro Days” festival in Fairplay. The highlight of the festival is cheering on the participants in the Burro races.
The long course is 27 miles and the donkey must be loaded with at least 33 pounds of prospecting paraphernalia (pick, shovel, gold pan…etc.).
My first four nieces and nephews, Rose, Calvin, Caroline and Oliver are the children of my brother, Grant, and his wife, Sarah. As of this January, they finally got their first cousin when my sister, Elise, and her husband, Brad added Sage to the family. This was the first time Sage got to spend some quality time with his whole family.
My brother-in-law, Brad, used to work for a company named Noah’s Ark. It is a rafting outfitter and they also have a ropes course. We did obstacles courses, a “leap of faith,” and even a giant swing.
One day we took a little trip up to Breckenridge. Mom had brought her riding gear along with Annie’s seat, so she got to ride along for a bit. We crossed Hoosier pass together.
Our family is reaching the stage where getting a family picture with everyone smiling and looking at the camera is a near impossibility. I probably should just keep working on my image editing skills.
Annie even got to be in one:
But when it was time for the Grandma-Grandkids photo, everybody was happy. As well they should be!
We checked out of our cabin, with mere seconds to spare before being charged a late fee.
Though our reunion was technically over, we evidently weren’t quite done “reuning.” We all headed into Denver together and spent a few more days together.
Other than attempting to urinate on the stadium of the Denver broncos, there’s really only one other thing that every visitor to the mile-high city should do: Eat at the Casa Bonita.
This restaurant is a full on entertainment establishment. It can seat over 1,000 and employs a small army to feed and entertain their guests. They really went all out with its design.
Other eating venues are designed to look like an old mine…
…Or even an opera house:
Of course there are arcades, Black Bart’s cave, puppet shows, a caricature artist and more. Where else can you watch cliff diving while you eat?
I know that some people may like to diminish this place’s greatness, saying that it is “gimmicky” or that the food is not that good. But take it from me, as someone who has basked in the splendor of the Alaskan frontier and experienced the beauty of the Amazon rainforest, the Casa Bonita is the greatest thing that exists in the world. There exists no coherent argument against this absolute fact.
After most of my family left, I still had plenty of work to do in the Centennial State. Thankfully, I had a happy home from which to originate my adventures. Brad is originally from Denver and his parents, Dave and Beverly, graciously agreed to host me. Beverly’s sister, Diane, lives nearby and was able to spend lots of time with us too.
Beverly is originally from Texas and was the person who connected me to my SHMMBW in Houston (THIS POST, in case that acronym looks like gibberish to you). As a special thank you to her, I brought her a couple of peanut patties from Texas. They didn’t quite survive the ride in my trunk unbroken, but their taste was unchanged.
They really made me feel like one of their own during my time there. I was fed lavishly and given plenty of space to get my work done. I also received a generous anonymous donation while I was here. If it was from Dave and Beverly I definitely wouldn’t say that it was from them out of respect. Furthermore, I would also would never specify that it was in the amount of $100. I am way too classy to break confidentiality like that. 🙂
It was great to have some quality time with my nephew, Sage. If he pays attention, he’s going to learn a lot from his uncle. I taught him all of the intricacies of writing a solid blog post:
I showed him the best times to add a b7 on top of the tonic chord to transition to the subdominant:
While perusing strollers, I explained the effects of wheelbase on handling. These lessons will be relevant for two-wheeled contraptions as well. 🙂
It was sad to see Elise, Brad and Sage leave, but I’m hoping my route will take me to see them again soon. Vancouver isn’t that far from Crater Lake, is it?
I stayed with Dave and Beverly for a few more days, finishing up my adventures in Colorado. It was so special for me to get to know them better. When it came time for signings, Beverly wrote out her message ahead of time to make sure it came out just right. I appreciate this type of commitment. 🙂 For all of their assistance, I had them accept the responsibility of crossing Colorado off of my list.
I left with many fond memories…as well as a key to their house still in my pocket. With as well as they welcomed me, I don’t even feel bad about keeping it.
A few more anecdotes:
You may remember that while I was at the Space Center in Houston, I bought a patch of one of the missions on which Nebraskan astronaut Clayton Anderson flew.
Getting this attached to my riding jacket ended up being a bit of a chore. We first tried to iron it on, but this was a struggle. In order to keep the surface flat, I had to hold it from the backside with an oven mitt. It did not go so well.
(Sorry, Mom. I know I said I wouldn’t post this picture. It is just too good. You still look pretty even with this expression. 🙂 )
When we got into Denver, Beverly loaned us some sewing equipment to attach it in a more traditional fashion.
An inkjet! An inkjet! My kingdom for an inkjet!
I’ve been trying to reprint the country flags that sit on Annie’s windshield. I shipped some sticker paper to Denver, but had a heck of a time finding anywhere that had an inkjet printer to use. Every copy shop/library just had laser. Honestly, I was starting to get kind of frustrated. On my way out of town, I made one final stop at a shop called “Ink it Over.” With a name like that, I knew I was going to have success.
Earl, the guy working the counter, was amazingly helpful. He spent about half an hour assisting me and printed multiple test pages before we ran the real thing. After it was all said and done, he declined to charge me anything. Thank you so much!
There is a long essay brewing in my mind, on the connection between frustrating circumstances and opportunities to make new friends. I’ve had so many experiences during this journey where something that appears negative ends up with me making a special new connection with someone. There are very few “frustrations” that I would change.
My time in Colorado totaled 19 days, but that was still not enough time. This was one of the first times when I ran out of time to connect with all the people that I wanted to. There were other friends, family members and potential new friends for whom I just did not have time. But with this state’s proximity to my home, I know that I will surely be back.
In the next posts, I will get back to our adventure. I met up with some ADV’rs and had a marvelous time exploring the state. “Colorado” was crossed off in this post, but next time I will detail my quest to find the perfect photo to represent the state. The visit to Grand Lake will be featured as well. Thanks for coming along!
Stay colorful, everybody
Realtime update: I am in my next song place, Cedar City, Utah. I’ve already had volumes of experiences in this state, visiting four National Parks and taking in countless breathtaking views. Cedar City seems really nice and is in the midst of their Shakespeare festival. I will be working hard on a way to get Annie inside of their recreated Globe Theatre.
In other news, I finally got my primary phone fixed. I’m behind in a lot of my correspondence and I think some messages may have gotten lost as I jumped back and forth between phones. Thank you for your patience as I try to reply to everyone and plan out my future stops.