cowardice of Columbine was similarly resurrected in Aurora. My deepest, heartfelt thoughts go out to all the victims, their families and everyone who was indirectly hurt. I hope that in some small way, I can deliver a temporary diversion from these heinous acts and remind the world of Colorado's stunning beauty...and perhaps encourage those who have never been there...to visit.
To help celebrate the wonders of Colorado, let me introduce my younger readers to John Denver.
When I went through the Rocky Mountains during my cross country trip in 1976, a disjointed collage of wrong John Denver lyrics played in my head. I was probably hearing, "TAKE ME HOME, COUNTRY ROADS," as I got my first taste of the Colorado's true splendor, in Grand Junction. Then as I came east on I-70, with nobody to share the grandeur of the incredible landscape, I'm sure I was butchering the words to, "ANNIE'S SONG."
In the past, I have celebrated Colorado with two other blogs. The first (March 23, 2009) was entitled, "THE STOCKHOLM EFFECT ON I-70." It centered around the strange chain of events that led me to rustic Georgetown. The second Colorado story from May 18, 2009 was called, "MY 33-YEAR BOYCOTT, THE GREAT ROCKY MOUNTAIN BUZZ-KILL." It also starts in Georgetown but involves different people and ends in Golden.
Today's third tribute to the state, starts in the University of Colorado, (in Boulder). I had such a good time during my two days and one night there that I remember few details.
|NESTLED INTO THE FOOTHILLS OF THE ROCKIES, BOULDER IS NOT ONLY BEAUTIFUL BUT A REALLY COOL PLACE TO BE TWENTY-ONE.|
|IN 1976, I WAS UNDER THE WRONG IMPRESSION THAT BUFFALOES WERE EXTINCT. ABOVE, IT LOOKS LIKE A DIFFICULT TO TASK TO KEEP "RALPHIE" FROM RUNNING AMOK AND IT'S GOT TO BE IMPOSSIBLE TO KEEP THE BEHEMOTH FROM SOILING THE PLAYING SURFACE.|
Kurt brought me to a quiet area that looked like the exact spot where the Rocky Mountains started. He told some interesting stories and one of them had to do with the Native American legend that claims, it is never easy to leave Boulder. We shared our food, I had a transistor radio and we fell asleep.
|KURT, FACING WEST, TOOK THE SHOT ON THE LEFT LOOKING INTO THE MOUNTAINS. ON THE RIGHT, EASTWARD, YOU CAN SEE THE SLOPE LEADING DOWN TO THE FLAT PRAIRIE.|
In the morning, I realized that I had a good time with Kurt but I decided against his offer to travel together. This decision was based purely by the fact that he turned away from me to pee without enough of a buffer zone. However, he did give me his phone number and address in Rosenberg Oregon and I did visit him, (but that's another story).
By noon, I was on my own trying to hitchhike into Denver. I was out there about an hour when Kurt's legend that its hard to leave town came to mind. Moments later, a car stopped a couple of hundred feet in front of me. It was close enough for me to recognize that the Buick had New York license plates. I hurried over with the idea of begging my fellow New Yorker into giving me a ride.
The coincidence here is so incredible that if someone else told me that this happened to them, I wouldn't believe it. The reason why the driver stopped was because his car trunk popped open, ( I NEVER heard of such a thing happening). A million times crazier, when the driver slammed down the trunk, it was Ernie G. from the neighborhood. We were never friends but we played ball together, were in the same classes and we still lived four blocks apart. He was staying at the nearby Boulder KOA and was returning from K-Mart. When I got in his car, he told me that Freddy Z. was waiting for him back at their campsite. It was uncanny, Fred and I had been close friends, in third and fourth grade.
I slept in their tent that night. The next day, we went north to the town of Estes Park to see Rocky Mountain National Park.
|JULY 1976 - ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK. DON'T BLAME FREDDY, CRAPPY CAMERAS TAKE CRAPPY PICTURES. AND BECAUSE ERNIE AND FREDDY LURED ME INTO STAYING THAT EXTRA NIGHT IN BOULDER, THAT REINFORCES THE INDIAN SUPERSTITION THAT KURT MENTIONED.|
Later, we headed south on Interstate 25. At least when Freddy drove, he played a John Denver 8-track. It fit the mood as we passed Pike's Peak and other natural wonders. When Ernie drove, he blew-out our eardrums with hard rocking, heavy metal, "MOUNTAIN."
|NO, THIS WASN'T TAKEN WITH MY INSTAMATIC.|
In the morning, I had had enough. I asked to be dropped off at the Greyhound station. Somehow I lost track of one of my goals and missed seeing, "FOUR CORNERS" in the "THE MONUMENT VALLEY."
I never blamed Ernie for making me miss the Monument Valley. But for the rest of my cross country trip, it gnawed at me why he was so adamant about having his own bed.
That summer, I was on the road 68 days. In that time, I kept a journal. In lieu of letters, every now and then, I mailed those entries to my parents. In them, I never bad-mouthed Ernie.
When I got home, I told my parents a steady stream of stories that never made it into the diary. When I got to Ernie's bed story, my mother smiled and said, "It's no mystery, I know exactly why he acted that way." I said, "Why?" She said, "I only need one word, enuresis." I said, "Heh?" She said, "He's incontinent." I said, What?" Mom said, "Incontinent means, he can't contain himself." Mom saw my confused expression and added, "Your friend is a bed-wetter."
My mother knew this because, in the mid-60's, to generate more income, she opened a bedding store in Canarsie. She told me that Ernie's mom used to buy rubber sheets for him when he was an adolescent. My mom also said that if its a physical problem most people grow out of it. But if its psychological, without proper care, the problem and the collateral damage it can cause, might linger for years.
Luckily, I think Ernie is well-adjusted enough to overcome this physical and mental albatross. Yes, he over compensates for his insecurity and embarrassment with annoying brashness but I can recognize it as harmless and work around it. Besides, the few times that we've crossed paths since Colorado, (the late 80's was the last time), I felt sorry that he felt forced to come off so strongly.
The shame is, that with a better way to detect and treat people with emotional problems maybe we could minimize if not eliminate the behavior that has rocked Colorado, in Columbine and Aurora.
To brighten your mood, click on the link below for John Denver's, "ROCKY MOUNTAIN HIGH." And if you like it, for more positivism and inspiration, check out all of his hits like, "SUNSHINE ON MY SHOULDER" and "THANK GOD I'M A COUNTRY BOY." (or as RBOY and I used to call it, "THANK GOD, I'M A CANARSIE BOY."
C'mon, let's have a road trip! Fill your car's tank full-o-gas and don't stop till he get to the Colorado side of the Four Corners! I'll be the one scratching the first entry off his bucket list.