The atoms that make up and form the molecules that make up things like my cell walls, brain synapses, and even my DNA are themselves made up of tiny particles or more accurately vibrating strings that come and go as they please and all originated from someplace at the center of the universe, the beginning of time, and the Big Bang. In the perspective of the distances those particles travel, the size of the earth is not even a pinhead and the surface of the earth smooth as glass.
All of this seemed incredulous to me as I lugged my six-foot-six two hundred and twenty pound sack of potatoes body up the trail after leaving the car at 8,000 feet.
Boulder is known worldwide for its outdoor sporting including cycling, hiking, mountain climbing and of course skiing.
After our first day in Boulder we are in Wild Basin, about an hour car ride, and less crowded than the globally famous Rocky Mountain National Park. Kris, my host and cousin, is our guide. She has trekked these mountains many times and with a rigorous pace she leads us up the switchbacks under the aspen and ponderosa searching for every low branch she can find to whisk me into a body twitching coma.
We hike for about 5 miles up (which means 5 miles back) to the tree-line (for those sea level dwellers that is where the trees stop growing at 11,500 feet elevation) and my confidence in our guide begins to wane when she bursts into a giddy turbulent jubilee upon finding our destination. Did she not think we were going to make it?, I ponder.
Her husband and my good friend, Brian, looks at her incredulously as well he is surely thinking what I am. My travel companion and I decide to take a photo opportunity as it seems this is a very important place judging by the unbridled euphoria, so who knows? Some ancient Arapaho medicine rock? Maybe health healing geophysical properties? Best get a photo.
The weather has been beautiful but as typical this time of year clouds begin to form overhead for a short rain.
We hike back down and Kris finds a place further down the mountain along the raging creek and under the protection of the pine canopy. We stop for lunch — a bottle of Malbec (the same Coppola we had in Belize), some wild boar salami, aged cheddar, and thick crust french bread.
After lunch and hiking back to the car stopping only long enough to talk to a grown man of 65 and weighing some three hundred pounds on his stomach with his wife watching. Brian goes over to investigate.
“Don’t touch it!” he barks.
Brian looks down and we huddle close. On the floor of the forest is a flower no bigger than half a pencil. It is delicately tiny with a single stalk and small light blue tiny flower on top. The very large red cheeked man is on his stomach taking eight hours of documentary footage on this thing.
“It is a wild orchid,” his wife in back of him explains. “We didn’t think it would be this small.”
The man continues, “I told that other woman not to touch it and she just did. Just did right in front of me. Now it’s bent over.”
I see Brian’s index finger twitch against his pant leg. His eyes are glued on the flower. The old fat man is looking at him suspiciously. Brian seems to take no notice of him and is transfixed on the tiny orchid below. His fingers continue to tap against his side.
“Uhm, I’m cold.” I say trying to break the spell.
The awkward moment and wild orchid behind us we make the car and decide to drive to see Rocky Mountain National Park with really is a must see. We drive through Estes. This is a summer-only town and the home of the historical and haunted Stanely Hotel. The hotel is famous. Roosevelt stayed there as did Stephen King. That’s where he got the idea for the move Shining and the movie was actually filmed there during the winter. The ghost is that of the wife of the hotel owner Freelan Oscar Stanley of Stanley Steamer fame. It really is foreboding but its getting a bit touristy if you get my drift.
We drive and take the valley floor in. One thing I will say is that Colorado is very very bright. Something about being closer to the sun maybe. But the entire time you find yourself squinting.
There are huge herd of Elk that inhabit the area and there is wildlife all around. We saw a few elk and some mule deer.
We make it to the top, 12,000 feet, cold and wind blowing. We are on the highest contiguous road in the United States. We stop long enough for a photo and get back in the car and home to a nice dinner out.
Tomorrow is our last day. So we hypnotize chickens.