Went to breakfast at the Paragon and got the photo we should have gotten when we were all dressed nice. Drove B to the airport in Denver and received a toll road bill a month later (B’s fault). I finally saw the scary-ass blue horse statue that killed its creator–the thing is terrifying. His name is Blucifer, and believe it or not, we will meet him again on this journey. Dropped off B and called out “Goodbye, my love!” as I watched him walking through the sliding doors.
I abandoned the highway in my search for a coffee shop, passing the Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, which appears to be a soccer stadium. Next, I went to Argonaut Liquors and found a twelve-pack of Odell Easy Street wheat for a friend in Texas. Odell is in Fort Collins, which is pretty close to Greeley, but we never made it up that way.
Whenever I travel, my modus operandi is to find the local indie bookstore and go from there. I knew, as I navigated through downtown, that Denver had a beloved used bookstore, but I couldn’t remember the name. I made a halfhearted attempt to find the store on Facebook (convinced that I had somehow liked the page without ever having visited, as is my wont), but this trip really wasn’t about Denver, so I took off down the road. I later learned it was Tattered Cover, and there was one located on the same avenue as the liquor store. Sorry, Denver.
I then drove to Golden FOR THE SOLE PURPOSE OF GETTING A PICTURE OF THE GIANT YELLOW BELLY. Not sure it was worth it, but it did place me en route to hit a few more places I wanted to visit on the way to my friend K’s house in New Mexico. I looked for a bookstore but ended up on campus, so I gave up and went to Starbucks to regroup.
Red Rocks Ampitheatre was next. Footage of Sarah McLachlan singing “Building a Mystery” played as I walked through the visitor center. Kings of Leon’s people were setting up on stage for the show that night. I took a photo for a nice couple and got my traditional pressed penny.
Drove through the woods and saw some crazy animals. Took a photo and texted B–“I saw a moose!” B wrote back. It was an elk.
A friend had told me she had fallen in love with the Kittredge/Evergreen area, so I drove through. Stopped at the Kittredge General Store to gas up and got some free KGS stickers for my friend. I also tried to scrape the Colorado sticker off my car–it seemed appropriate to return the Silver Queen to her home state before removing one of her tattoos, but the sticker only crumbled around the edges.
Evergreen was overwhelming for the underprepared, but there appeared to be a lake. Unimpressive coffee. The fog and snow had really kicked in by the time I stopped in Conifer to purchase a book from a local indie bookstore. The owner said he was selling out. Then it was The Shining on Audible and a shit ton of mountain passes all the way to New Mexico. Every time I thought I was done, there were more mountains. I feathered the throttle and switched to music once it got dark and scary. K called as I drove through Pagosa Springs and told me to watch out for elk.
(There are more of the through-the-windshield-whilst-driving shots than I care to admit.)
I thought I would get some food in Durango, but the road took me south instead, so it was cold pizza all the way through. As I parked in Farmington, I texted one of the Colorado friends that I had arrived safely in THE LAND OF ENCHANTMENT. I rang the doorbell, peeped through the window, and had to call K from her doorstep, since she was asleep on the couch.
Bonus: Here’s before, during, and after me and my car drove through a tunnel and turned into cartoons! Whew!
(Yeah, I did a lot of driving that day. It does things to your brain.)