Well, I finally did it. I left suburbia. I drove my limping car out of town toward a National Forrest. I stopped at an REI and bought a new rack for my bike and a cool bag to sit on it. The sides open up and make little panniers. I also bought a pannier thing that will hold a grocery bag, very much like two that I have in storage in Knoxville.
One friend who sometimes knows me better than I know myself tried to convince me that since Walden can’t be trusted, what I need to do is get full-on backpacking gear and disappear into the wilderness. She had me going for a while, but it’s hard to imagine that someone who hasn’t camped outside of a pasture or back yard in nearly thirty years is going to start backpacking. It does seem like if I am going to be parking in these parks, it does make sense to leave the car. Having learned that it is wise to carry, at a minimum, some water, I bought a little day-hike pack. Thinking that I might spend a night outside of Walden, I bought and an insanely cool inflatable sleeping pad. I’d link to it, but I am actually far enough away from civilization that I have no cell signal whatsoever. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
My route toward the green place on the map took me by Red Rocks Amphitheater where I’ll be seeing a concert in a few days. It also has a Colorado Visitor Center, where I thought I might be able to pick up a map and get some information about these parks that I hear so much about.
At Red Rocks I watched part of a video about what a great venue Red Rocks is while also watching a guy cutting end-grain blocks of wood and pounding them into the floor. One cool thing is that the venue is open to just hang out in and there were all manner of people (well, mostly attractive, fit people) using the amphitheater as a gym. The most common pattern was to just run across one row, up the two stairs to the next row and so on. I saw one guy trying to run straight up; he got about two thirds of the way. I did a box jump up from one row up to the next. My sunglasses fell out of my pocket (usually it’s my cell phone, but I’d left it in the car). I wasn’t dressed for exercise. All of this to say that I haven’t exercised in a very long time. I think I may go back to Red Rocks and do box jumps, sit-ups and push-ups from the bottom to the top. I need to do something resembling exercise tomorrow. There’s also a little cafe there, but I thought that I should either find something better or eat food that I had in the camper. After all of this I managed to figure out that I was at the Red Rocks visitors center, not the Colorado one, which was down the hill at the “Trading Post.”
At the trading post, I found the Colorado Visitors Center. There I found a nice older couple and asked them where I should go to park. They had no idea. They have a trailer camper, but they never thought about where they might park it so close to home. I got a map and headed on back to my original destination.
As I got closer, I found a ranger station for the Pikes National Park. There I spoke to a woman who pointed out a place to go that seemed better than where it was I had been heading, so off I went. I stopped for gas and somehow got lured into a Mexican restaurant. I thought a couple of good tacos could be nice. As it turned out, the place was pretty much like the same bad Mexican restaurant that you might find in any town in the US. I think that Knoxville’s own Senor Taco might be better. And it was expensive. I should have left when I saw the menu, but it seemed rude to leave after he’d brought the chips. Hopefully at some point I’ll learn that my needs are more important than those of a waiter at a bad Mexican restaurant. Tomorrow is another day.
I did find my way to Park road 550 that the ranger-person had directed me to, and sure enough, there were people pulled off the road car camping. I drove in a couple of miles, found a spot that has a pretty nice view and managed to get the rain fly on Walden before the rain started. I spent a while tidying. Since I’d been staying in Suburbia, Walden was quite a mess. When I left the house I’d just thrown everything in the back. And then I threw the REI stuff in too.
So I hung out and tidied, read, napped, played guitar, made sure that the furnace works (I’m sure I won’t need it, but I thought I’d check). I tried to remember a couple of songs I’d been writing when I was on the Florida Shakedown Cruise without much success. It got dark around 9:00. I wrote this and now I think I should take a hint from the sun and go to sleep.