Pedaling to Palisade

When you’re pedaling around in a new place, it can be hard to avoid recalling something Ernest Hemingway wrote about bicycling.

It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them.

Ernest Hemingway, White, William, ed (1967). By-Line, Ernest Hemingway: Selected Articles and Dispatches of Four Decades by Ernest Hemingway. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons. p. 364.

In our case, the place is not entirely new, but pedaling our way from Grand Junction to Palisade for coffee on Saturday morning revealed more than our multiple drives in recent years to vineyards and wine tastings.

For any of the hill-shy among us, the route we took involved none of the sweaty climbing Hemingway had in mind. One slight, short incline – barely a bump in the road – got our attention on the way to Palisade and we didn’t even notice it on the way home later. 

Contours or no contours, exploring a place by bicycle gives you a chance to see and feel your new environment up close, with time to absorb some of the truth about it.

We rode the scenic river trail from near Corn Lake to where it intersects with D 1/2 Road, then turned north onto a quiet 33 1/2 Road, then east on E 1/4 Road, then north, then east a few more times until we were almost 10 miles from home in front of the pleasant Slice O Life Bakery for pastries and coffee.

Don’t get me started on how the roads are named around here. I may get used to it, but I don’t really care when I’m on a bicycle. You discover that you don’t have to remember to go either east or west on North, then take a right or left on 34 3/10 Road (or was it 36 1/4?), then angle northeast on Front to where it merges with G and the name changes.

You can stay on the trail until it ends at a bend in the road, keep the Book Cliffs in front of you until you’ve crossed the canal, then take the next right at the old red-trimmed house on the corner.

The Palisade Fruit & Wine Byway signs are helpful, too.

Pedal on.

B.J.

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

Snapshot: Election Day in Longmont

Line moving slowly at the Boulder County Fairgrounds voting location. Copyright 2020 B.J. Smith

Taking Election Day 2020 off seemed like the thing to do a few weeks ago and I had accumulated some paid time off, so here I am. At a keyboard, at home, just like every other day since March.

If I weren’t in what’s considered a high-risk group for COVID-19, I might have signed up to work at the polls, but here I am. Instead, I decided to take a look around. I set off late morning and drove by and/or stopped at four of our local voting locations to see if people were behaving and what the lines might look like.

Each place I visited was so quiet only the signs provided evidence that today was important. There was plenty of free parking near the St. Vrain Community Hub, the Moose Lodge, and at Front Range Community College. As I walked by the Hub, someone offered me coffee and snacks, which I politely declined. The few humans around outside wore masks, like all responsible people.

It was only as I pulled away from the building at the Boulder County Fairgrounds that I spotted a line. That it was just a few geese made me smile.

That’s how easy it is to vote when you get your ballot in the mail well ahead of time. You can mail it right back or drop it in a collection box, like Mrs. Smith and I did a few weeks ago near where those geese showed up today.

It’s still early in the day right now, and things could change, and I’m sure they’ll be quite different in Denver and many other places, but I’m happy with voting in Colorado for now.

It should that easy for everyone.

B.J.

Thread: Why do you drive?

From @bjsmith on Twitter

~~~~~

Ever wonder why you can’t see the Flatirons when you know they’re just a few miles away?

If you drive when you could take a bus or train or ride a bicycle or walk, it’s partly because of you. denverpost.com/2020/01/17/den…

The Denver Post @denverpost
What’s polluting Colorado’s air? 125 million tons a year of heat-trapping and hazardous gases

No, you don’t personally generate much of the more than 125 million metric tons of hazardous and heat-trapping gases that pollute Colorado’s air every year. But you contribute to the toxic mess we inhale every day. denverpost.com/2020/01/19/col…

Image by susancycles from Pixabay 

I’ve heard all of the reasons people commute by themselves in a motor vehicle every day. If you’re one of those people, ask yourself if you have a good reason or a lame excuse.

Take me, for example. I could drive my fuel-efficient car every day and save myself a little time between Longmont and Boulder. But…

My employer provides an EcoPass for me and everyone I work with.

I can read or write or talk to people on the bus rather than worry about the many motorists on their phones or texting at 65+ miles per hour on the Diagonal Highway.

I can spend almost $0.00/day on gas.

Fortunately, I’m healthy enough to enjoy commuting by bicycle some of the time, or some combination of bicycle and bus.

I am surprised and disappointed some days to see few others on their bicycles. This is Boulder County and I expect better.

All things and privileges considered, I have no real, valid reason to drive myself to work and back every day.

So I don’t.

What’s your excuse?

Let’s talk crime fiction: November in Niwot

Let’s talk crime fiction!

Join me at Inkberry Books in Niwot, Colorado, at 7 p.m. Saturday, November 16. What to expect: some words about writing what you know, a little reading, some Q&A, some book signing, and an author reception.

FYI, Niwot is a cool little place with friendly people who love music and serve some great food, coffee and craft beer. It’s conveniently located about halfway between Longmont, where I live, and Boulder, where I work. I stopped in at this independent bookstore recently while riding my gravel bike on the LoBo Trail and I’m looking forward to being there again soon.

If you’re in or near Boulder County on November 16, let’s meet at Inkberry Books.

Read on, my friends. Read on.

B.J.