Carol of the Bells
Trip Start Jun 01, 2011
56Trip End Ongoing
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The red was delicious! The blonde was amazing! (bartender, that is... wonder if I can get that to go?) Sorry. Horrible. By a quarter till 10 she was encouraging and nearly prodding the patrons to finish their beers and leave so that she could go home. A few decided that they would help close up shop and close the patio door: a rustic, accordion door, looking as if it were built in the 40s, spanning about 12 feet. How many drunks does it take to close a crappy door? Apparently about 5, given 10 minutes or so. Myself and a few others decided we would rather be entertained than attempt to be helpful. After a good lathering of music and nuclear physics, they succeeded! I applauded. However, just moments after getting the damn thing closed, they realized that a small puppy belonging to one of the guests had made his way on to the patio before the door was closed. I just laughed, clapped some more, finished my beer, said goodbye to the lovely barkeep, and made my way out.
While wandering the blocks in search of another bar, I decided to call my mother (isn't that what everyone does?). She was glad to know I'm not dead yet. I did not tell her about the seasonal blonde.
I came across a somewhat fancy looking locale and was drawn in by a few people sitting at the bar. The bartender, an Asian Irishman, handed me a cocktail list (void of prices, which was a little scary). I ordered a Sazerac - a New Orleans beverage based on whiskey (surprise, surprise) and absinthe). Like a master fiddle player, he danced, floated, and sang behind the bar and made an exquisite drink, garnished with a hand toasted lemon peel (it releases the oils).
The three patrons at the bar, two gentleman and a gentlewoman, all roughly 30, were in Aspen with family on vacation. While the rest of the family had already gone to bed in the hotel that the bar was a part of, they determined that a day with the family merited a drink. Or two. Or three...
I introduced them to Stranahan's. Instant fans, of course. We talked of travels and of home. The gentleman sitting next to me - we'll call him Wes (since I never actually caught his name) - talked of his experience. He grew up in Pittsburgh, which he never really cared for, so he decided to move elsewhere. It was only after spending numerous years away, finding a new life and new places and people, that each subsequent visit back to his hometown actually made it feel a little more like home.
One thing Aspen is not: cheap. The bill came. $15. It's about what I was expecting, but still felt like a little hit to the gut.
Nearly midnight, I drove up the mountains into National Forest lands in search of a place to sleep. I realized that I had left my tent and thermarest in my storage unit in Avon. Shit. No big deal for the night since I have a topper on my truck, but I knew that I would want to do some backpacking in the future and that a trip back to Avon would be in store.
And so, here am I am, back in Avon. <sigh> Oh well. Only an hour and a half drive back.
Back to Aspen. After a rather peaceful sleep in my truck I awoke to a flawless morning! In just minutes I was face to face with "most-photographed spot in Colorado", "are the most photographed peaks in all of North America" - the Maroon Bells.
On the return to Avon (damnit, this feels like a diary again) I made a quick iced coffee-stop in Basalt. Still being a flawless day, I decided to sit on a bench and play guitar for a while. Just moments later an older woman and a young girl, who was carrying a present, walked by. I asked, "You brought me a present?!" The young girl looked at me, perplexed, walked about 10 more feet, and joyously pronounced, "I have presents!!!" Just a few minutes later her and her grandmother decided to sit at the bench next to me and open present! It made me feel good that I don't give off that creepy, homeless, dirty vagabond vibe too much to prevent strangers from sitting near me!
While I played guitar, we chatted a bit, and Tiari gladly opened her presents. She told me that she had just turned four. I told her four is a big number - it's almost 5 - and that's just huge! One present was a doll, strapped and wrapped and taped and banded into her packaging like a maximum security prison! I retrieved my wire cutters from the truck and went to work, with Tiari's permission. It took nearly 10 minutes to get this doll out of the fucking packaging. Good lord, people. Not even SD memory cards or pricy electronics are this securely fastened and imprisoned into their packaging!
I bid them farewell, made the drive back through canyons and valleys filled with smoke from enormous Arizona fires, and am pleasantly typing away while pleasantly enjoying my whiskey.
Check back soon for pictures. To anyone who is reading - thank you for interest and support, and know that every one of you is an appreciated part of this journey with me.