Colorado: Little Towns and Giant Mountains
Lake City, Colorado is famous for Alferd Packer and his unfortunate incident of eating people (which I only know about from Cannibal! The Musical*). Aside from that, nobody’s heard of the place. Not even other people in Colorado. But Kyle’s grandmother grew up there, and he’s gone back to visit her childhood home (now a carefully preserved historical house) nearly every summer since he was born. This time, I got to come along.
A Bumpy Ride
We flew into Gunnison, CO by way of Denver, which is the only possible way to fly into Gunnison. (The airport only handles two flights a day.) Usually, I like bumpy flights — they wake me up and make me feel like I’m on a rollercoaster. This one, though, was so swingy and bumpy for such a long time that clapping my hand over my mouth was about all I could do to keep from puking. Once in the terminal, Kyle got his luggage and picked up the rental car key while I lay flat on my back in a cold sweat. Next up was a 60 mile drive through winding mountain highways. Good start.
With the windows down, cold air on my face, and candied ginger in my mouth, Kyle explained the effects of high altitudes and how to adjust to them (we’d be above 8,000 feet the entire trip). Drink tons of water, avoid alcohol and coffee (right…), and take it easy for the first day or two. Expect to feel tired or even a bit feverish. It will pass.
Water helped. I was mostly stabilized by the time we arrived in Lake City. We got out, put down our suitcases, admired how freaking cool the house was for a good hot minute, and then got our butts back in the car. This time, we took Kyle’s aunt and a local family friend with us, and drove another hour and a half over 12,000 foot peaks to a town called Creede.
And that’s when the vacation started.
We made it. This was Colorado. Huge ass mountains with tiny old towns sandwiched between them. Hiking boots, turquoise jewelry, hand-carved statues, outhouses, cowboy hats, copper, leather, and polished stones. Every corner sold pottery, photography prints of wildflowers, and gorgeous jewelry. (“SHINYTHINGS!”)
I could work with this.
We grabbed dinner and then went to a show at the Creede Repertory Theatre, a small space with a long history and a lot of energy. We saw “Is He Dead?” — a comedy adapted by a modern playwright from a long-forgotten Mark Twain manuscript. (Short version: an artist fakes his own death and then poses as his twin sister, all to escape a debt and take care of his loved ones). It included some impressively thoughtful treatment of drag, genderplay, and fluid sexuality (the “sister” character was attractive to nearly everyone — go Twain!), and was incredibly fun to watch.
We spent the next day back in Lake City, not moving much. I explored this exquisitely-maintained house from generations ago (the photos! the clothes! the old papers! the quilts! omg!). Kyle showed me around the small town, and then took me to the museum (which included a bed he had slept on as a child). His aunt explained to me that everything in town was in the Historical Register, and they were required to maintain every bit of it in a historically accurate way.
Kyle and I slept on a droopy bouncy double bed together. We’re used to sleeping on a memory foam king-size mattress (where you can end up a mile apart, and thrash around as much as you want without ever waking the other person up), so we’re not very practiced at sleeping respectfully. Just to be safe, we put some blankets on the couch across the room, so we’d have a place to go in the middle of the night if we couldn’t stand each other anymore. But between the general exhaustion and how nice it was to snuggle with someone under the covers in a cold, unheated room, it turned out that we never needed that couch.
There were two more full days. The first, we spent on a wild Jeep ride over bumpy dirt mountain passes. (Seriously, I felt like I was riding a bull the whole time. It was insane.) On the second, we took a proper hike up through the base of Mt. Wetterhorn. Both trips included amazing (ridiculous, incredible, indescribable) views, and more cool small towns (with more shinythings!). And good food. And nice traveling Texans with pretty dogs. And waterfalls. And creeks. And old broken down gold mines. And more views.
Oh! And marmots! I met a baby marmot***. Or, at least, I think it was a baby marmot. It was hanging out with the bigger marmots. And it scampered around my knees for awhile as I sat on a rock!
We’re home now. My hips and ankles are aching from the hike, and I have bruises on both legs from where I kept running into the corners of that old double bed. Kyle went straight to phone calls with his travel agency clients, and I sat down at my computer to blog. We’re tired and happy, and nibbling on homemade fudge (which was so worth the 20-minute delay at security while TSA tried to figure out what fudge is).
Next year, there will be more hiking, more canyons, more Jeep rides, and perhaps some fly fishing. I can’t wait to go back.
Here are some more gratuitous photos for the road:
* Holycrap! Troma Films posted Cannibal! The Musical to YouTube! The WHOLE THING! Go watch!
** The Twitter peanut gallery has already proposed Samara, Gadot, Marmite, David Sedaris, Vern, Goldie, and Lady Marmalade.
*** Oops. Actually it was a baby stoat.