It started off like an ordinary day. Bloatmeal. (Apple Cinnamon, of course.) Strong coffee. (Via, but don’t tell.) We headed out of our campsite on Shrine Pass, did some bouldering on a huge rock in the middle of an enormous aqua green field (water!), then took off on a dirt road that would connect us back to Basalt. We could have taken the highway, which would have gotten us into town within 45 minutes, but that’s no fun. We had a Eurovan and some Colorado backroads to explore.
Within 20 minutes of driving, a gentle rain started from the clouds that had been lingering above us since after breakfast. We pulled over, watched the small storm hover quietly over the mountains, and continued on when the sun finally came to take over. After a short while, we saw a few cars stopped, with a small wiry woman on a horse leaning in to the window of the red Camry directly in front of us. She came over to our van with a voice that can only be described as EXACTLY what it was – Female Colorado Cowboy with a Carhartt Jacket and Studded Jeans – and yelled, “Don’t Stop. Just Keep Going. Slow. But Keep Going. They won’t hit you!”
It took us more than three hours to get the through the cattle that afternoon. It started off hilarious. Wonderful even. We were in Colorado! Of course we’re stuck in the middle of a cattle herd! But as the amount of cattle that we’d have to pass settled in (several hundred) and the time it would take to do it, the pictures stopped being snapped and the cursing began. And I can’t even describe the amount of urine that sprayed from those beasts. I live in a city, yes, but I’m not “City Slicker,” and even to me, it was a bit disgusting. It was constant. It was slow. But at the end, it was part of being in Colorado, so be it. Good thing we had a case of Tincup whiskey in the back.
We descended into Woody Creek, CO, where Sinuhe took me to see Hunter S. Thompson’s house, which is a shack amongst the Dwell-type houses that inhabit those hills. We oooh’d and ahhh’d, grabbed a beer at the infamous Woody Creek Tavern, then headed past Aspen. We stopped at an overlook, continued our beefless lunch sandwich making (each session would end with delightful swearing and compliments to the chefs) and watched the mountains get bathed with sun and knocked around by wind.
Onward to Independence Pass, Tincup and the Hot Springs….