Al Batt: It’s a case of Colorado Rocky Mountain high jinks

Published 8:45 pm Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Tales from Exit 22 by Al Batt

Every day is a surprise.

I walked on a moonless night when no star dared twinkle. It was as dark as a dark cloud with a dark secret.

I walked without illumination because it was a trail I’d walked a thousand times before. I moved along in the vagueness until something hit me. Unbeknownst to me, a tree branch along the path had broken and become a hanger (widowmaker). I was cudgeled alongside my head. I was surprised and stunned by that ambush.

Judy Garland, a fellow Minnesotan, sang “Where troubles melt like lemon drops. Away above the chimney tops, that’s where you’ll find me.”

I hoped Colorado would melt the widowmaker’s sting like lemon drops. Work took me there, despite a friend’s warning that it was a Denver of thieves. Colorado is well known for its production of pinto beans — an excellent source of protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals and beans. There was more traffic than anyone needed. Everyone hurried. We’re given 24 hours per day. Speeding doesn’t give us more time, but it’s become nigh on impossible to mosey in an automobile. Three lanes of churlish cars became two lanes when entering a tunnel. This slowed traffic from supersonic to a hamster in a wheel. Not all roads are paved with good intentions. Drivers need to be skilled at ducking, dodging and hiding.

A GPS in any form is a good thing. Bad directions were once given by grinning, mendacious men or scribbled in indecipherable penmanship on the back of an envelope containing an electric bill.

Colorado borders Arizona, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Utah and Wyoming. Colorado has 697 sides and is a hexahectaenneacontakaiheptagon, according to and Kutztown University.

Life has slope to it. Colorado is a teeter-totter, up and down it goes. The highest spot where I live involves the use of a large trampoline. I checked Wikipedia, which is like copying from the class clown‘s paper, and it said the elevation where I live is 1263 feet. The 13th step of an entrance to the State Capitol Building in Denver is 5,280 feet above sea level.

I rode in a friend’s Tesla as we went to see if the Rocky Mountains were still there. I chipped in on the gas.

Colorado is filled with Coloradans. Famous Coloradans include Tim Allen, Jack Dempsey, Dog the Bounty Hunter and the aspen. The Colorado blue spruce is the state tree, but the quaking aspen is its best-known and recognized tree. A gold rush occurs every fall as multitudes are lured to the high country to see the beautiful colors of aspen trees, which grow at elevations ranging from roughly 6,000 to 11,500 feet. We could see the forest for the trees and the mountains.

Three of us went for a hike. There are three kinds of people: those who like hiking, those who dislike hiking and those who think hiking is done only by the center on a football team. I love hiking. Saggy-eyed from lack of sleep, I rode shank’s mare upward. I was surrounded by everything.

We set up cues to warn the others of exhaustion. I was to mimic Fred Sanford of “Sanford and Son” fame. “Oh, it’s the big one. You hear that Elizabeth? I’m coming to join you, honey.”

It wasn’t on our itinerary, but I heard the chatters and whistles of Canada jays — soft gray, crestless, fluffy birds with small bills. They resemble oversized chickadees. “Hold out your hands, palms up, please,” I asked my hiking companions. A jay (also called a gray jay, whiskey jack and camp robber) landed on each available hand. Someone found a fruit bar and hands became breakfast tables. One landed on my grubby paw. It was amazing. A bird in the hand is worth days of panic buying in gift shops where someone cuts ahead of me in line. I digress. We made it to the top, over 11,000 feet. I saw why the bear went over the mountain. It was amazing.

There are secrets to traveling. Stay at the right place, eat good food, enjoy being where you are and prize who you’re with. Find the good and be willing to be amazed.

A single day changes us. We’re never the same. We’re a day older. I enjoyed Colorado but was happy to get home. I’m the guy who bought a toilet brush, gave it a try and was happy to go back to toilet paper. The familiar is fine.

Every day is a surprise.

Be amazed.

Al Batt’s columns appear in the Tribune every Wednesday.