My bachelor days are waning, in a few days I’ll hook up with my wife again in Denver, Colorado.
My hobo routine is thus, waking at dawn in some strange place then driving for three hours. Breakfast is in some Ma and Pa cafe followed by hiding from the heat in a small-town library. Occasionally I step out for walking tours. They reveal pocket museums, antique shops, and chatty inhabitants. I then return to the cool comfort of the library and research the road ahead. These book collections are roomy, wi-fi'd, and the bathrooms don’t stink.
Two days ago I was blogging away in an Iowan house of books. Last week an Illinois librarian gave me a stack of audio books to enjoy on the road, mostly westerns. North Platte, Nebraska, had another fine library and much more.
At 7 a.m. I happened upon a downtown sidewalk sale. Alan Hirschfeld, a fourth-generation haberdasher, sold me a spankin’ new cowboy outfit for next to nothin'.
Suitable dressed, I had breakfast in the Expresso Cafe while Django Reinhardt played in the background. A brochure told me about the North Platte Pioneer Museum on the outskirts of town. Beautiful old buildings have been moved there to re-create an 1880’s village. Everything was open and free.
A tin-roofed warehouse protected an outstanding tractor collection. These much loved machines must be hard to part with. You see many rusting in fields traveling through the mid-west.
There's plenty of room on The Great Plains for these aged iron horses.
Before there were tractors horses pulled the plows. Buffalo Bill rode them with style. The wild west showman was the most well-known American a hundred years ago. He made his home in North Platte at Scouts Rest Ranch.
William “Wild Bill” Cody serve as a scout for the Union army in the Civil War and later found his way to the rodeo stage. He shared the romance and the excitement of the wild west that continues to sell cigarettes and pick up trucks today.
I visited Bill's house, and, did you know? Barbed wire collections are very popular out here. Mr. Cody's ranch had 21 varieties arranged into a cowboy-style meditative mandala.
You have to head west for what seems like weeks before you finally see the Big Show, the shadowy grays of the Rocky Mountains looming on the horizon. This is always an “Ah” moment.
It was also a thrill to find my wife at the Denver airport. Francesca laughed when she saw our mobile home had been turned into a bachelor pad. That didn’t last long.
We drove to nearby Boulder to visit Ruy, Francesca's son, and his wife, Meagan. What an unusual, ultra-hip city it is. Marijuana is legal but obesity isn’t.
There are no fat people in Boulder.
The locals take great pride in huffing and puffing in non-stop outdoor activity. If you are not jogging, biking, or climbing a mountain, you must be in some other place.
I discovered Boulder in the early 70's. It was hippie heaven. Many of my friends moved here. Some never left.
Parking lot with a mile-high view
Boulder's farmers market was first-class. It's a shame we can't have one just as good in Coconut Grove.
No visit to Boulder is complete until you go to their tea house. It is a gift from their sister city in Tajikistan.
They follow the rules here. At 7 a.m. on a Saturday morning -with zero traffic- I saw a woman speeding along on an expensive bicycle. She came to an empty intersection and actually stopped for a red light. She stood there statue-like, for the longest time before the light turned green. That would never happen in Miami. Bicyclists are bolder there.
When we weren’t hiking and biking the young’ns were taking us to drink beer at micro-breweries. These are warehouses where you sit surrounded by huge tanks filled with fermenting grain.
Ruy and his mom
Happy waiters offer you 85 varieties with ridiculous names. Not being a fan, I took a few small tastes. All of them looked like foaming urine and tasted (to me) like Budweiser. I ordered wine or water at these houses of (beer) worship.
Taking this Boulder “I’ll drink anything” maxim further, I went to a “meadery” to try wine made from honey. Mead halls were very popular twelfth-century England where the Terrys originated. This hall’s six varieties reminded me of Mogan David White with slight notes of bee excreta. Oh well.
Pot is legal here but being in Colorado, we were already a mile high. Photos in tourist brochures try to make gnarly wads of expensive weed look attractive. All with ridiculous names, one variety advertised was “Trumpjuana”, “One toke and you’ll forget he ever existed”. Tempting.
Ganja is big business. Huge corporations will soon be selling it like Budweiser.
GETTING READY FOR THE ROCKIES
Pot and beer were plentiful but we didn’t come to Boulder to get wasted. Being with friends and family -where the range rises up to The Rockies- was enough.
In north Boulder we stayed with friends, Linda and Hap. They live where the city turns into wilderness, where the deer and the antelope play.
On their back porch we drank coffee. In the yard Bambi grazed and raccoons dug for worms. This was so refreshing as in Coconut Grove you only see them digging through garbage. One afternoon three up us formed “The Raccoons”, a Radiohead ukulele cover band.
The worm diggers loved us but now it was time to pack up and head up to the mountains.