Naturally, I wanted a first post to this blog to be something epic, or on the eve of my departure, but as distractions mount and that date has well slipped by, it becomes clear that I just need to start, and then go from there.
I had the pleasure of leaving Massachusetts with one of my best friends (Samer, if you have the privilege of knowing him) in the pre-dawn hours of Sunday, December 7th. In addition to the obvious comforts of driving long hours with a good friend, Samer’s innate and endearing qualities turned what I had planned as a no-frills long-haul (tent, sleeping bag and Turkish coffeepot on a camping stove) into a much more enjoyable experience. After a 16-hour first day on the road, we were able to spend the night with a friend of Samer’s in Louisville, Kentucky where we were treated to fine whiskey drinks and the unmistakable comfort of Southern hospitality.
Two eight-hour days followed with a night at another friend of Samer’s in Kansas City (which apparently is also in Missouri…). Once driving across notorious Kansas I came to terms with one source of its notoriety, rather its monotony. Being from New England, with a (warranted?) sense of superiority, I had previously had my doubts about the merits of the enormous swath of the United States known as the Midwest. While I was now able to confirm my suspicions that there was not much to see as far as beautiful landscapes go (or at least dynamic ones), I came upon the glaring suspicion that there might be something else that would warrant the loyalty of the residents of a place where all the roads are flat and straight. The stops along our drive, while few and far between, each revealed a glimpse of communities of people that had qualities that might let you forget the cornfields in favor of live music, rad young people and a personality hard to catch sight of from the Northeast. While my original intent was to make the minimal number of stops and start my adventures upon first sight of the Rockies, mental notes were made to the effect that, should life necessitate further cross-country roadtrips, the cities of the Midwest were not to be neglected.
When we finally rolled into town it was dark and I would have had no idea that enormous snow-covered mountains were lurking behind the cities of Boulder and Denver. Waking up at the house of friends in Boulder and walking outside, I was startled by the flatirons, jagged rocky peaks, jutting up from the very edge of town. We did our best to see the sights before parting ways, Samer on his adventure and me on mine. I headed north into the hills outside Berthoud (note: named after a dude who pronounced it ‘ber-too’, now Anglicized to ‘BUR-thud’) where I would find work volunteering on an alpaca ranch. In exchange for 20 hrs./week, I receive money for groceries and a place to live, to use as a jump-off for as many outdoor adventures as I can shake a stick at, as the plan goes.
Work, and adventuring have begun in earnest effort and I’m happy to be able to spend much of the day outside, working or playing among beautiful landscapes. The plan is to stay for a couple months and enjoy winter in Colorado before continuing westward. As far as I can tell, the climate offers dry, warm winter days interspersed with epic snowstorms, the tail end of one we are just coming out of. Last week I went mountain biking in a t-shirt and this week I XC skied and dressed accordingly to work the morning shift with the animals on a day when the high was 2°F.
I’ll do my best to post pictures and words with regularity, and I hope I can share with you some of the experiences that made me decide it was worthwhile to venture out (again).
On the drive, stopping for gas in Kansas.
The flatirons from Boulder.
Looking up the valley from the ranch outside Berthoud.
My new home (the camper on the left), for now.
My first ride, the Devil's Backbone outside Loveland. (Awesome).
A winter hike with Kranzley (and H the dog) on the Big South Trail, an hour and a half up from Fort Collins in the Poudre Canyon.