Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Down in Denver (and Boulder and Fort Collins)

Kerouac's Denver was usually a place of reuniting with friends and getting kicks; a holy crossroads affording brief recovery between vagabond exploits.  I had finished On the Road only days before I was wandering red and dusty Denver myself, and I had an artificial sense of expectation that my Denver should somehow also be all those things.  But then, it wasn't always like that for Jack either.
"Down in Denver, down in Denver
All I did was die"
I felt goalless without wonder and alone without the usual sense of liberty that comes with solitude.  I floated around so many unhappy broken people walking on limps and on wheels.  I felt wretched.  Like a jerk with a stupid camera.  I was bored of taking pictures.  I was bored of capital buildings, and restaurants, and churches.  The darker motivations for my leaving California came to a boil in my stomach and left the rest of me empty.

Better or worse, moods are fickle things and my malaise wasn't to last.  Despite having already spent so many of my waking hours on the trail, I decided what I needed to lift myself was yet another hike, and I was right.  I drove to Boulder, grabbed a burrito next to the college campus - loving the campus community and damning my own university for being a commuter school - and crawled around the base of the Rockies just long enough to feel centered and eager for all the miles I have yet to cover.

My cousin Stephen and I spent a Sunday afternoon in Cheyenne, which was pretty dead given it was Sunday (though I have heard that's just how Cheyenne is).  There was enough frontier charm and history to make it worth the trip.  Remarkably, despite its intense conservatism, Cheyenne granted women suffrage about 50 years before it would come to pass for the rest of the country - a fact that made granting Wyoming its statehood controversial.

We were especially taken with the homes of the prosperous cattle ranchers, and we even got to step inside one converted into a bed and breakfast - which we both agreed would be lovely to live in if not for the fact that it was in Cheyenne.

I finished off my stay in Fort Collins with a tour of the New Belgium brewery and have since decided that I want work there for the rest of my life.  The facility generates its own electricity and processes its own water, even selling both back to the city.  Employees each receive a share of the company, a bicycle, free beer weekly, and paid holidays on Valentine's Day and Earth Day.  

And they make a damn tasty beer.

1 comment:

Brian said...

glad to hear you were reading "On the Road". It's practically required reading for a trip like this