Rocky Mountain Stopover

David Mows Lawn to
Prepare for Backyard Party
Boulder, USA
June 2, 2014

After six weeks out on the road Colorado is the first place I've felt a sense that I'm out traveling, felt any sense of being away on vacation. The air tastes so fresh. The vegetation looks completely different. The elevation makes me winded whenever I walk for any extended stretch. My daily routine is certainly different, here: I sure wasn't making daily hikes along mountain trails in any of the other places (New York, Portland, and Seattle) I've passed through since leaving Montreal a month-and-a-half ago.

My perspective is probably all a question of what's familiar. Whatever last trip I would have taken through each of those other cities I just passed through would have been sometime more recent, sometime within the last eighteen months. But, it's been over four years since I last came to Boulder.

I'm back for a simple combination of reasons. Boulder is en route to where I'm next flying (the U.S. Midwest.) I have two friends from school days who now live here: one from high school, the other from college. The lowest cost of any direct flight from SEA to MDW would have been rougly equal to what I paid for the same routing with my present three-day pause through DIA. Who wouldn't add a stopover in the Rockies given those circumstances?

I've been staying with Erin. I confess that Erin's present living situation has put into perspective just what I consider a sweet house to mind. As I also often do myself, Erin is in the middle of an extended housesitting gig. But, my frequent cat-sitting stints pale in comparison to where she's landed. When first planning my itinerary I asked Erin if there might be anywhere in the place where she was staying for me to crash. She laughed and said, "Oh, there's plenty of room for you to stay. You can take the master bedroom which is off in an entirely different wing: all of which you'll have entirely to yourself."

Eppie and Erin
Erin wasn't joking. She's in the middle of a half-year housesitting (well, mansion-sitting) gig while the absentee owners are off on an extended stay in one of their other multiple houses on some corner or other of the planet.

To be honest, I've found myself getting lost each time I've turned in for the night, walking from Erin's mother-in-law unit set on one side to the opposite end of this enormous house. On top of getting lost it's further unpleasant in a creepy way attempting to navigate unfamiliar rooms, corridors, and staircases when you don't know where any lightswitches are and all you have to guide you is the weak glow cast by a cellphone. The one benefit is that in any home with seven bathrooms you never have to look far when you need one--even when utterly lost.

I suppose the one thing I have up on Erin during my housesitting gigs is that Erin has no cat here to sit. Though, Erin does have a pet to keep her company. Her own dog, Eppie, is here minding the house, too. And meeting Eppie might have taken my cat-bias down a notch or two. She's the first dog I've enjoyed being around. After leaving Greg's family home with their new dog who would bark and growl every time she saw me--and even once bit me--Erin's dog has been a joy to spend time with. She neither barks nor growls. She is prone not to biting but to giving big sloppy kisses--though those are easily reined in for people like me who aren't yet so dog-drool friendly. Erin, Eppie, and I have gone out on short hikes including a stretch of the Switzerland Trail and the Marshall Mesa loop, walks that have been utterly enjoyable.

I've also managed to take a long mountain hike with my other long-ago classmate who lives in the area, now. Cloe and I took an easy hike to Brainard Lake, a choice that was completely spur-of-the-moment when our drive to the small town of Nederland met a detour blocking the road. As with Erin, Cloe seems to have a glow of contentment with her life settled up in the Rockies. Though, she did express concerns about her long-term stability in the area: rumors based on credible information have been flying about her office that her present job is being outsourced to India.

Cloe Dines at
Dushanbe Teahouse
Before the rumors it didn't sound like Cloe had any compelling reason to leave this beautiful area. Though, she did acknowledge that a layoff might be just the motivation to move along to an even better situation. Maybe move back to Seattle to be near her twin sister's family to play a closer role as auntie? Maybe move somewhere entirely different for a year to teach English abroad as she used to in Japan--with the intent of landing somewhere lucrative just to pay off student debt? It seems like whenever Cloe and I next meet there should be significant life change from each of our sides to catch up on.

She and I just finished lunch at one of my favorite places around Boulder: the Dushanbe Teahouse. I've gotten over the fact that the tea and food menus don't resemble what an actual teahouse in Dushanbe would serve. I ordered the Tajik Shish Kabob (Shashlik); she the North African Harissa Chicken. We shared a pot of genmai cha. We also split dessert, which was a spicy chocolate cake (seasoned with cayenne pepper) served à la mode with avocado ice cream. Bizarre-sounding combination as that was, it was hands-down the best dessert I've eaten so far this year.

I did contemplate if the ornate carved wooden columns might have been crafted in nearby Khiva in Uzbekistan rather than the more limited borders of what defines Tajikistan proper, today. Wholly authentic or not, it was the perfect place to leave Boulder behind for however long it will be until I next pass through. Hopefully that won't take another four years from now.

I've taken the shuttle bus to DIA. I made an early departure to allow myself plenty of time to kill to update this 'blog and to scrawl out what remaining postcards I want to send while still in Colorado. But, now it's already come time to head through security and hop on my flight.

Next stop: Chicago