Friday, August 2, 2013

Aspen Summertime Blue

You know the saying, "We came here for the winters, but we stay here for the summers." It is a point well taken. Some of the most incredible outdoor experiences I have ever had have been in Colorado in the summer. While I no longer live in the Vail Valley and the great expanse of the Gore Range, I remember fondly climbing Mount Holy Cross, a fourteener there. The many all day bike rides up Vail Pass down in the Red Cliff and into Minturn and back to Vail, or just riding my mountain bike up to the top of Vail (Benchmark) and traversing the trails before dropping into West Vail. Yes, I did find lost lake up on the way to Piney Lake and no, I never could find it again after that day. It was pure joy in the fall to bike up to the meadows above Piney Lake and to traverse down in the late afternoon in the sunshine into the massive stands of Aspen's with their golden leaves forming a treacherous yellow brick road leading into the gut sucking steep downhill into West Vail. It helped me tremendously to be surrounded by young enthusiastic outdoors people in the summer. Although I remember leaving Vail for Aspen and saying that I was tired of the steep enclosed Valley and the Valley Fever and how it would be great not to be the oldest person on an outing. I do miss the view of Vail from the top of the Gore Range or walking across the Covered Bridge on a full moon night and listening to the rushing waters of Gore Creek heading toward the Eagle River.

It brings me to the somewhat more sublime photo of Ajax (Aspen Mountain) and the summertime blue. I first came to Aspen for a film and screenwriters conference and made my mind up then to move back here. It was where I thought I would actively pursue my writing career. Yes I have written some great things here. All the beautiful early morning love letters to my adorable wife, which helped me to win her hand. So I suppose that must be considered my best writing although some of those were pretty steamy and did get me in trouble for leaving them in her desk at work where any of our coworkers could have found them. Yes I have managed to publish “Of Mountain and Men” my book of poetry and I have finished, “The Lure of the Mountain King and Other Stories.”

The best thing about that and my writing is that some day I will be able to say to a publisher that the Olympics come every four years to a great mountain of the world and my writing can be published in almost all the languages present at the Olympics and if I am extremely lucky my work could become the book or books read around the world. In the meantime as I work in my plumbing and heating company in Aspen I often stop and step out on the porch of one of my client’s houses and am confronted by a scene such as this photo. The beautiful greens of the grasses and evergreens against the deep blue of the Aspen sky washes away all of my worries and doubts and reminds me that my six month plan to make it to Eugene, Oregon and a lovely house on Friendly Street with a cabin up the McKenzie and a condominium at Driftwood Shores in Florence at the ocean isn’t that far out of line. I just need to get publishing my e-books. Next will be “All God’s Horses,” then “Arapahoe Basin, The Legend,” and finally, “Out of America.” Until then whenever I get the Aspen Blues I will step out side and smell the pines and gaze at the Grandeur of my office.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Last Train To The Coast

Now you know that I have set a side my worn out Strohlz jet foamed ski boots. They were a Christmas gift from my High School sweet heart. It has been forty years since I decided to take a year off from the pursuit of an Engineering Degree to spend a winter skiing in America. During those years I have watched the sunset and the snows come to almost every major mountain range in North America and worked at every possible job that would advance that goal. I have lived in converted railroad box cars that were made into sleeping bunks on the desolate plains of Wyoming, to multi-million dollar log homes on Missouri Flats in Aspen Colorado for the sake of the next steeper run filled with that precious white gold, powder snow.

This year as the snows and Winter Olympics come to Sochi, Russia, a place where I would have never ever dreamed of skiing nor imagined ever being able to visit, I am beginning what I hope will be the culmination of my life long dream of pursuing mountain tops. The dream is to write about them. I have recently completed a course on self-publishing e-books. After many false starts of writing and compiling a collection of short stories that are worthy of publishing, the day has arrived. The stories have been edited and assembled in a collection titled “The Lure Of The Mountain King And Other Stories.” It is my goal and dream to move forward and be able to finally tackle the greatest challenge of my life. I hope to move from being a writer as a hobby to being a writer making a living at it. Just like the obsession of pursuing the Mountain King, I am possessed by the desire to write about my time on the Mountain King, Arapahoe Basin. There have been many false starts and outright failures on my part to move toward this accomplishment. I can only equate those to the times that I spent skiing first green circle trails (easiest), then blue box trails (more difficult), then black diamond trails (most difficult), to finally climbing out of bounds all day to ski trails where there aren’t even any names or boundaries.

In their infinite wisdom grandmothers all seem to understate the obvious not only did my grandmother tell me "(Albert), word’s ... they are the key." She always said you have to crawl before you can walk. How very fitting for someone who grew up being a part of the instant gratification society, having recently lived through a “Great Recession” that turned the equity in my home, (that I was planning on using the proceeds for moving to the ocean in Oregon and walking on the beach while writing my short stories and novels), to being a commander of a submarine, (my beautiful Stonewood Grande), in Parachute, Colorado.

The greatest lesson that I have ever learned has been at the knees of my grandparents who lived through the real great depression. The lesson is to dream and if you are going to dream, why not make them big dreams. When song writers dream and write about salvation, they always seem to write about their salvation as a train. You know the great gospel songs about trains. One in particular titled “People get Ready.”  The lyrics are “People get ready there's a train a - coming, you don’t need no ticket, you just get on board. All you need is faith to hear the diesel’s humming. Don’t need no ticket, you just thank the lord.” Hell, even Dylan titled an album “Slow Train Coming.”  I guess that is why I titled this piece, The Last Train To The Coast. It is my last big dream to be at the ocean and writing about my life in and on the mountains.

I have started what I hope will be the very last vehicle and business to get me there. Capitol Plumbing and Heating, named after the second highest peak in Colorado. Here is to big mountains, big dreams, and walking hand in hand with my beautiful wife on a big beach next to the big ocean.