Dogs and old men on a Colorado trail

Red Dog Smith and I ventured out of the office late this morning for a walk down to the river. Mrs. Smith was out hiking with some friends after ignoring my sage advice to always have a pocket knife when hiking. Who doesn’t carry a pocket knife into the wild?

Red Dog on a Colorado trail.
Red Dog on a Colorado trail

Anyhow, the river isn’t far, and we got all the short way there without seeing another human being or another canine. We decided we are OK with having a trail completely to ourselves now and then.

On the way back, it got busy. We saw a total of three human beings – one walking his black Lab, two others going different directions on their bicycles.

To be more specific, we saw three elderly guys. All three had what some would call white hair, but I prefer to characterize as silver.

Sensing a pattern here?

Seeing three people in half an hour or so is what passes for busy in our rocky little chunk of Mesa County.

We also saw:

Two quick-footed lizards.

Butterflies.

Contrails criss-crossing the clear blue sky.

An enormous flat-topped mountain to the east of us.

On the way back, almost at the front door, I realized I have become some guy who writes about his lunch break now and then. I am OK with that. Red doesn’t seem to care.

New sense of place

The ancient mesa to the east is grand indeed.

The cliffs and canyons to the west are monumental.

Sandstone mountains to the north recall dusty memories of books on a shelf.

The river behind us drops slowly toward a sea it will never reach.

And we marvel at the fortune that brought us here.

And we open ourselves to whatever is next.

A new chapter: Going farther west

Considering the politics involved in drawing up congressional districts – aka CDs – and how those districts shift over time, it can be hard for a body to land in one that feels like the right place.

We lived in conservative districts at times in our Iowa days and in majority Democratic Party districts at others. We left in 2010 well into, if not exactly because of, the state’s headlong decline into governance by mindlessness, pettiness and ignorance.

When we escaped to Colorado, we landed in Fort Collins for a while before moving to a little piece of Boulder County that somehow ended up in the 4th CD. We endured “representation” by Cory Gardner for a while until he went on to a dismal single-term career in the U.S. Senate, and now we’ve coped with being ignored by Rep. Ken Buck since 2014.

Boebert and Buck posing with a deadly weapon.

May her first term be her last.

Our recent decision to abandon the busy, expensive Front Range for the more affordable but scenic far Western Slope was not at all political. The natural evolution of careers getting closer to retirement, a realization that I can work from anywhere with reliable broadband, and our granddaughter’s move from New Jersey to Salt Lake City (along with her parents and other grandparents, of course) made it inevitable. We will be much closer after years of too far apart.

The one thing to which we’re not looking forward in this latest new chapter is becoming denizens of Colorado’s massive and misguided 3rd CD, which is far too short on Democrats.

Gardner to Buck to Boebert. May her first term be her last.

We’ve been told a number of times that we’ll need to buy guns and ammo to live over there. Funny, in a dark humor sort of way, but it’s probably not a good idea to assume anyone is not already heavily armed. Because how would you know for sure?

I will say that my first purchase in Grand Junction after we close on the new house is more likely to be a new mountain bike than a deadly weapon.

Pedal on, my friends.

B.J.

Ute Canyon, Colorado National Monument

The past is downstairs

Bern pedaled at a constant cadence of 75 rpm in the lower level of the main Smith Compound residence. A video screen in front of him showed the scene from a camera making its way along a trail somewhere in a rain forest in Costa Rica. His background music faded to nothing, then into Jim Morrison singing about the end of something.

What’s ending? What came before? Was I this high the last time I heard the song or is that my imagination? I don’t think it was what Frank and I listened to in his basement somewhere back in our long ago but who can remember something like that after a few hits of black Afghan? The hot dogs F boiled up didn’t last long. I’ll never forget that part. Exactly which song was playing doesn’t matter, but I always wonder what happened to F after that and if he had indeed killed himself and why no one ever told me. I hope I wasn’t responsible because I wasn’t a better friend. It’s not that I’m high now, because I’m not, but the sync between the video and The End is just too fitting down here. I’m trippin’ and seeing so many things in a different way as the trail bends left and right and climbs above the greenery and across one footbridge and on to another and then I’m in another basement looking for the Christmas presents Rosemary and Dr. Bobby had hidden in the crawl space, on the far side from the stairs so we had to go around the furnace where the Devil lived if we wanted to peek. There was no demon in the next few basements. Just memories of hiding and imagining and talking on the phone beneath my sisters’ bedroom, and sweeping and mopping and checking to see how much oil was left and if termites had left more tracks, and long-forgotten photo albums, and a bobby whistle and a roller skate key that I still carry around sometimes in case of an emergency and to help me remember even though some things can never be forgotten.

If only The End had lasted a little longer.

B.J.

Beer night in Pandemia

Good to see friends at a table in the covered beer garden 
on a cool October evening as sky darkens early
from the smoke of not-so-distant wildfires.

The acrid, burnt-forest ambience thickens
and ash begins to decorate the smart device
that sits next to my pint of craft lager,
telling us it's time to put on our masks
and go home.

More raw verse.