A DAY IN COLORADO*
The early morning sun had just begun to dry off the frost, and the birds were fighting over the bird feeder on the deck below our second floor bedroom window. The window, actually a sliding patio-type door, faces south and you can see for 40 miles across hills and valleys of pines to the Gore mountain range in the distance. The humming bird feeder hanging just outside the window was also busy with fluttering wings fighting for one of the four feeding spots.
Heidi and I had awoken earlier, and our naked bodies were still wrapped together, preserving the warmth that had been generated from our early morning lovemaking. There is something about making love in the morning that is more bonding than nighttime lovemaking. Perhaps it because you are more rested, both mentally and physically, although a combination of night and morning lovemaking seems to be best.
We decided to take a shower together and then, still wet, we ran out onto the deck to dry in the warm sunshine. I've lain naked on my deck when the temperature was below freezing and the ground covered with snow. If there is no wind and the sun is out, the heat of the sun is more than enough to keep your body warm at the 9,000 feet elevation. After lying in the warm sun Heidi's body began to warm again in other parts, and I had to address this issue with means other than my favorite, since my body has passed the point of rapid rejuvenation.
After getting dressed and having some breakfast, we decided to take a horseback ride up into the mountains behind my house. My back fence marks the boundary between my property and the Arapaho National Forest. There is a trail that you can ride for days into the wilderness. We took this trail upwards for about 45 minutes until arriving at the ridge where you can see the front range of mountains and Rocky Mountain National Park some 45 miles to the east. From there the trail follows the ridge north, going up and down, but slowly gaining in elevation until -- well, I don't really know exactly since I've never gone far enough.
My dog, Nina, loves to go on these rides, and she never seems to lack for something to chase or investigate, although she does appreciate a rest ever hour or so. After about an hour and a half we stopped and had a picnic lunch at a high overlook. We watched a couple of eagles soaring in the thermals coming off the ridge and fed some chipmunks and stellar jays that were begging for food. It was close to noon and the sun was getting quite hot, although the ambient temperature was probably only 75 degrees.
We packed up our lunch remains and headed away from the ridge on a trail that went west down the mountain to a beaver stream I really like. It has a series of a dozen beaver ponds that cascade down over a half-mile section of the stream. Then we turned back south and followed the stream upwards to its source, which is close where we had begun our ride. Horses always have the harder task in a mountain trail ride, and I've often wondered if they even enjoy it. They seemed much happier to be back in the pasture again. In this case the pasture includes access up to my house and their walk-in shelter under my deck.
It was now 2 PM and there was more than enough time to clean up and head down to the guest ranch for dinner. We dumped our dirty clothes into the washer and again headed for the shower, only this time we dried each other rather than waiting for the sun to do the job. The drive to the ranch is about 45 minutes, and we were going to be early if we went straight there, so we stopped at the Parshall Inn (PI) in the little town of Parshall, population 48. The PI has a bar, about six tables for dining, and a backroom with a pool table. We sat at the bar and let Jerry wait on us. He had a diet coke waiting for me, but had to ask what Heidi would like. She had a Coors Light and we sat and chatted with the owners, Toby and Jerry. Toby cooks and Jerry serves food and is the bartender.
A few locals were already at the bar. Macabe, who looks like an old walrus, always seems to be there. He doesn't work and is collecting workman's comp for a back injury from almost two years earlier. Dave Smiley was there. He lives within crawling distance from the PI and has probably done so many times. He, like many in the area, is a functioning alcoholic. At least he was functioning until he got fired from his job at the mill a year earlier. It was still early in the day, so Dave was coherent and his usual sarcastic, humorous self. A couple of young guys came in later and couldn't keep their eyes off of Heidi. They sat at a table behind us so that they had a good view of her butt.
Around 4 PM we paid our tab and said we'd see them later that night. From the PI to the ranch is only a 15-minute drive if you ignore the speed limit -- which everyone does unless they are tourists. It's a gravel road most of the way, but I've gone over 80 on that gravel road. Today I went 40 because we were killing time and wanted to see the sights.
At the ranch, the horses were just being run up to the upper pasture for the night, so we sat in our truck while 50 horses ran across the road in front of us and up the hill. It's one of my favorite sights, and I fondly recalled the times when I was on my horse and running up the hill with them. One time I was bareback and in the middle of the herd of running horses, It was awesome and stupid, and I'm not certain I would do it again. However sometimes it's the seemingly stupid things that can really make you feel wonderfully alive.
We parked my truck by the barn and wandered over to where some guests were playing horseshoes. Heidi and I were soon challenged to a game and got caught up in several more before we were interrupted by the dinner bell. I've always liked most bells that were not electronic or on alarm clocks, but the ranch dinner bell is probably my favorite. It never fails to give my appetite a boost, no matter how full I might be.
Dinner is served to about 50 people at six long tables, and tonight we had a choice of Trout or Chicken. Heidi and I both had trout. Debbie and Julie are both wonderful cooks. I don't think I've ever had a bad meal when either of them was cooking. After dinner Heidi and I walked up to the upper pasture and joined the 50 grazing horses to watch the sun set. Watching a mountain sun set with a herd of horses and a beautiful woman is about as romantic as you can get unless you are a city person, and even they might agree.
Once dusk had overtaken the better part of visibility we walked back to the ranch where we met up with some of the ranch staff and headed back to the Parshall Inn for a few hours of socializing, pool playing, horseshoes, shuffleboard, and of course, playing the jukebox. I love the PI. It's probably my favorite place ever, which is strange since I don't drink and never go to bars anywhere else in the country. This bar has personality, and the people are down-to-earth working ranchers and locals. Most of them are not folks I'd care to bring home with me, but at the PI they are great to be around.
The PI stays open until 2 AM unless everyone leaves earlier. I usually don't make it until 2 AM, and most people have to work in the morning, so it often empties around midnight. We left around midnight when the ranch staff did, and we headed up the mountain to my house. On the way we had to slow down for pronghorn and porcupine that were on the road. At the house the two horses came up to greet us and see what we might have to offer them. This night I had some horse treats in the back seat and gave them each one.
Heidi and I walked up behind the house before turning on any lights, so that we could see the stars. The moon was not up, so the brilliance of the stars at the high elevation was breathtaking. The Milky Way actually looks like it is suppose to look on clear nights in the mountains. Some people from big cities who have come out to visit have actually never seen it before, and a few have actually asked me what it was. Looking at the stars is a wonderful way to end a perfect day in the mountains, but Heidi and I had an even better way -- so we went inside.
* Heidi was not really in this story. The people and places are real, but the events are figments of my imagination. Heidi is an attorney in Dallas. She emailed me and asked what my typical day in Colorado was like, and this story was my e-mail reply. She will probably sue me now for defamation of character -- and she is a character.