Thursday, June 29, 2006

From Rico to Chico (part 2)

After leaving the Telluride Bluegrass Festival on Sunday night, we arrived at the Best Western in Montrose at 1 am Monday. It was a really nice place and would have liked to spend more time there – at least a full night!

The sun and 6 am came a bit too quickly. My hubby took me to the Montrose airport so I could catch the first of three flights to get me to my next destination – Chico, California. I was running late and was reprimanded by the counter person/gate person. Montrose has one gate (I think), maybe two? I buzzed through the mini-security and then onto the mini-plane (an Embraer Brasilia EMB-120 turboprop). My carry-on bag had to go underneath and my laptop barely fit under the seat in front of me.

Our bathroom apparently was out of commission (not a problem since the flight was only about an hour), but there was the wafting odor of pee through out the mini-cabin. The view outside the window was fantastic -- well the opposite window from me. My shade was jammed shut. Our flight attendant, Jessica, was a fiery redhead with a fierce scowl. She sat in the front of the plane and glared the entire flight. If there were to be snacks and drinks, that was just too bad. We were on our own.

The flight was quick but the landing at DIA made my heart skip a few beats. Denver’s almost-to-Kansas airport location provides some interesting wind currents in a larger plane. We made it safely on to the ground at the mini-terminal arm branched off of the B terminal. It was a short wait and then on to plane number 2 – this time a large, roomy Airbus to San Francisco.

Another short wait and then on to plane number 3, another Brasilia Turboprop. This time I had the single seat and my laptop almost didn’t fit under the seat. I really had to wedge it under there. The seat I was supposed to be in was the first one and my laptop did not fit into the overhead compartment so I took the next one back and made a new friend with the woman who's seat I swapped with. She was headed to the same workshop I was, as was half the plane.

This time my window shade worked and after flying out of the clouds of San Francisco, I watched the rolling fields and patchworks of Northern California pass below me. Less than an hour later, we landed in Chico. I realized that I really didn’t know where I was on a map (but looked it up later). A short taxi ride to the Hotel Diamond and I was at my home away from home for the week.

I was in Chico for a business workshop/certificate in my field at the university. Chico is a small college town. My hotel was about two blocks from campus. The first afternoon I decided to walk around the town and get the lay of the land, and also to get my legs unfolded from all those plane rides. It was stifling hot but there were plenty of shady spots to walk about – especially on campus.

I ran into my friend Hannah from the plane and we chatted a bit. She mentioned a natural food store several blocks away. We continued on separate paths only to run into each other at the store awhile later. I stocked up on studying munchies, and picked up a refreshing looking juice. Later I discovered that you really should read the label in health food stores. This one had some odd ingredient in it that made it taste like feet with a slight bit of mango on top.

I crashed early that night after walking about in the heat, the three plane rides, lack of sleep and the fun weekend before.

The workshop was interesting but not so much to include it here in the blog. I passed the ceritficate test with 100% (whew! “self-paced” online classes in my book seems to be “wait to the last minute”). I also met and heard many great folks in the business.

One great thing in Chico was the Pita Pit. You pick a pita sandwich and add all the fixings (like a Subway). It was so good, I had it two nights in a row and would have done a third had I not talked Hannah into dinner at the Tres Hombres. One great thing about Hannah is she thought I was in my late 20s.

I also caught my first Bookcrossing book at a local coffee shop, Has Beans. Unfortunately it really wasn’t something I wanted to read (and that the original reader had repurposed into a vegan cookbook). None the less, but I’ll have fun passing it on, maybe into Boulder or the freebox in Telluride when I head back there for another event in August.

The bad thing about Chico is that it was an oven the whole time I was there – above 100 degrees F. Uhg. I was very happy to arrive home back to cooler weather in Colorado.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

From Rico to Chico (part 1)

Summer brings a schedule full of things, including travel and concerts. A couple of weeks ago, we loaded up the car and headed for the Telluride Bluegrass Festival. Telluride is about an eight-hour drive from Denver. It’s a really pretty one that goes through many different landscapes. You have the front range and the Rocky Mountain views of Vail, and Glenwood Springs, which morphs into the desert like landscape of Grand Junction. Driving south on highway 50 brings you to the Alps-like San Juan mountains of the Dallas Divide and the peaks around Telluride.

We stayed with friends just outside of Telluride in the old mining town of Rico. With a summer population of about 500 and a winter population of 200, it is a small town where everyone knows everyone else and dogs run free. It’s a lot like Cicely, Alaska – complete with it’s own cast of characters. We had lunch at the Enterprise Bar & Grill on the main street and were treated to tastings of the bar owner's new supply of really hot! sauces. That evening as the sun when down, so did the temperature -- a welcome relief from the 100+ days in Denver the previous week. We spent the evening at friends of our friends with a bonfire, good food, beer and good chatting.

Sunday morning, after a good meal of bagels and fixin’s, we caravaned into Telluride for the Bluegrass Festival. Telluride is an awesome place for a show. The scenery is incredible. Plus the people watching is pretty interesting. We staked out a spot and set up our day camping gear, chairs and all and were soon joined by other friends.

Telluride is at 8750 feet in altitude, but many of the concert-goers were much higher than that. If you ever wonder what happened to the Deadheads when the Grateful Dead stopped touring, just look in the Town Park camping. Lots of dreadlocks, tie-die, really dirty feet and a lack of soap. Ah, the life of the nomad. I itch just thinking of it.

During the day, we took a break from the high-altitude sun (too much can make me grouchy) and took the pups of the group with us up the gondola. Sheena was thrilled to join the ride. Sya would have preferred staying on ground level and tried to burrow herself in the humans’ laps. It’s a palm-sweaty view for me, especially when there’s a strong cross breeze. At the top of the hill (approximately 10,000 feet) we had a fantastic, although steep view. Our friends informed us this was one of the ski runs. Wow, definitely a Warren Miller kind of run -- straight down.

In spite of the days’ heat in the ozone-deprived sun, the night can cool down quickly. As the sun rounded the mountains, folks started to add layers. Out came the fleece, the wool socks, gloves and more.

The headliner of the Sunday show was my favorite band, the Barenaked Ladies. Most people would not think of them as Bluegrass but they have a very folksy feel to their music. They did a mostly acoustic set with the banjos, accordian, and more. They also played many songs from their new album coming out on September. With their usual offbeat humor, they commented on the "dirty" dancing (of the nomad folks I mentioned before), the ride into the Telluride airport (a tricky one, and the nation's highest airport), and various other "Only in Telluride" quips.
After the show, we bade hasty goodbyes and booked it out of town an hour and a half north to Montrose, where I had an 8 am flight Monday morning.

That story in part 2!