Te’ Hell We Rode

Telluride, CO —

Do you know how the city got it’s name? Some people claim it was named after the binary compound of the element tellurium and an electropositive element which is commonly associated with copper, silver and gold.This explanation would make sense because upon conception, Telluride was a mining town. However, that’s not quite as good a story as the one others claim gave the town it’s name.

The city of Telluride is hard to get to with the roads we have in this century, so it’s hard to imagine people making the treacherous ride on horseback down some mountains in the 1880s. Apparently, a common warning about the menacing path in it’s heyday was “Te-hell-ya ride.” Isn’t that a more interesting explanation for the name of a town? I think so.

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Have you ever seen Breakfast at Tiffany’s? If you haven’t, there’s a spoiler ahead, so consider this a SPOILER ALERT (even though you really don’t deserve one because the movie is about 50 years old).There’s a scene in the movie where Holly Golightly, Paul Varjak and Doc Golightly are at a Greyhound station in New York. Try and picture the type of clothing, mannerisms and style of buildings and buses in 1960s New York. Are you picturing it? Well, as Doc finally gets on the bus headed back to Kansas, he slides the curved window away and Holly tells him goodbye and that she’ll be able to take care of Fred when he gets back from the army. It’s a sad moment, but every time I watch that scene I get really nostalgic for a time I never lived in. There’s a word for it that Owen Wilson’s character uses in Midnight in Paris but I can’t remember what it was. Rest assured, it was beautiful.

It was because of that scene in Breakfast at Tiffany’s that I decided I was going to take a Greyhound bus to Flagstaff where I would meet my best friends on our way to Colorado for a camping trip we’d all been dying to take.

There’s a reason people don’t take Greyhound buses like they did in the 1960s.

Upon entering the main terminal, I was smacked in the face by a myriad of scents ranging from marijuana to really bad B.O. There was a flurry of activity all around me as I tried to both hold my breath and stay calm. Completely alone with only a backpack and carry-on suitcase, I checked-in an hour before my bus was scheduled to leave. After that, I all I could do was chose one of the few remaining seats and wait for my bus number to be called over the aging and nearly impossible to decipher megaphone. My options were slim. It was either near the woman screaming into her phone about helping someone make bail, near the massively pregnant woman whose husband was rolling a joint right there in the bus station, or next to a woman who appeared to be sleeping, but who could quite possibly have been dead.

I chose the latter.

After a few minutes passed, I came to the realization I would have to use the restroom before getting on the bus because honestly, if I ended up in the back of the bus, I didn’t much like the idea of sitting next to – and smelling – all of that so it would be best if I didn’t contribute to it. I was again faced with a dilemma. It was either trust that no one would approach the dead woman as I left my stuff near her, or take my belongings with me into the restroom and suffer the consequences of having my things in such a germ infested place. After much deliberation, I took my things with me.

Once in the restroom after avoiding the too familiar looks of several older men on the way there, I was greeted by the sight of blood covering the entirety of the first stall whose door was wide open. Trying my best to block the image, I got out of there as soon as possible.

The wait ensued for another hour or so before my bus was finally called and I got on and promptly took a 30 minute nap. The rest of the bus ride was fairly uneventful. I did learn a lot about some Wyoming toads though after listening to some NPR.

I rolled into Flagstaff’s tiny Greyhound station at about one in the morning and stayed awake until three in the morning catching up with my best friend. A lot had changed since we’d seen each other last. We did/still do have a 300+ day Snapchat streak but seeing each other in person is a much different experience.

So we packed up the car with our things and slept for exactly one hour before hitting the road. I had requested a detour a few weeks earlier to the Grand Canyon because, living in Arizona and being so close to it, I felt like it was my duty to go. Also, there was the fact that I had lived in Arizona my whole life and never seen the Grand Canyon in person. Shame on me – and on my family actually for not taking a day trip up there I mean come on, it’s so close.

We stopped at a gas station to stock up on caffeinated beverages and then once we got back in the car I fell right asleep on the mountain of blankets I was sharing the back seat with.

We got to the Grand Canyon at about 6 a.m. after some trouble working the permit machine at the entrance. The Grand Canyon is absolutely beautiful. I didn’t cry at the majestic wonder of the gaping hole in the ground or find myself mystified by the sheer size of the thing, but I did have an intense feeling of respect for the Colorado River below. A single body of water made the canyon. Water. We drink it, we shower with it, we flush it down the toilet and this.

This is it’s true potential. Amazing.

This next part of the story is fairly uneventful. We drove. We stopped for gas. We relieved ourselves. We sang along to songs from our youth. Until we were about three hours away from where we had planned on camping.

Colorado gets pretty wet and stays pretty wet after it rains, come to find out and a mudslide on one of their highways prevented us from getting to our final destination. So we turned around. My best friend knew we were near Telluride – some family  members of her at one point or another used to live there – so we made that our final spot. To re-calibrate our plans, we sat at a table outside a Clark’s grocery store and decided on a campsite called Alta Lakes or something to that effect.

Quick little fun fact: the Alta Lakes campgrounds are literally on the top of a mountain.

We were not driving around in a vehicle that was well equipped to deal with the road we had to drive on to get up and down that mountain, but somehow we made it. And after being eaten alive my mosquitoes, we set up our little home in our version of paradise.

We piled most of our belongings in the tent and then very, very slowly came to the realization that we actually had not brought any food with us. We had ham, crushed Wonderbread, cheese, cold hot dogs (and no plates), fruit punch and water (and no  cups). After realizing how little we actually prepared for the trip, and how completely exhausted we all actually were, we lay there in the tent just laughing for a solid ten minutes. A quick trip the grocery store and we were a little bit better off, but not by much to be completely honest. We had sandwiches and then immediately fell asleep for 13 hours, not without interruptions by the rain falling through the roof of the tent and the loud cracks of thunder and quick bursts of lightning.

Our first day in Telluride was pleasant. We woke up around 9 a.m. and walked around the campgrounds doing a bit of exploring. I’ll admit I was out of breath for most of it – because of the drastic change in elevation for me. Around noon we struck out for downtown Telluride. I was anxious to get to Pokemon hunting. Who knew what different creatures were awaiting me in a different state? A few hours later, our stomachs felt achingly empty so we stopped by Brown Dog Pizza for some lunch.  Pretty good stuff if I do say so myself.

Before getting our table at Brown Dog, it started to rain. Doesn’t sound too bad, right? We were expecting rain. The thing is, it rained a lot. I mean a lot, a lot. When you’re planning on spending four nights in a 20-year-old tent, a lot of rain is not a good thing. Much to our horror, the tent was completely soaked through by the time we got back to the top of our mountain. Our blankets were completely soaked. There was no way to bring any of it back to life. So, like real adults, we zipped it back up and tried to start a fire. Funny thing about wood is that it doesn’t like to catch fire when it’s all wet, or when it’s sitting on a wet bed of ashes. Nevertheless, we kept at it for a good two hours trying to get it to light, to no avail.

After awhile we realized it was starting to get dark and our tent was still soaked through and through. One of my friend’s uncles offered to put us up in a hotel for the night but alas, all the places in Telluride were completely booked and the closest hotel was a good 40 miles away. Still though, we knew we weren’t going to be spending the night in the tent, so we shoved all the wet blankets in the trunk and drove into town for better cell service. It was there that we decided to head to Durango. By then however, it was 10:30 p.m. and we had left the tent pitched at the top of the mountain. So we did the only think we could do at that point. We drove back up the mountain and shared a fitful night of sleep after toasting marshmallows with a lighter.

Waking up the next day, we quickly packed up the tent and hit the road toward Durango. We called ahead the night before to be sure that the Super 8 in Durango had available rooms to which the man working the front desk replied:”Yeah we have lots of rooms.” It gave us the impression that he both a) hated his job and b) the hotel was basically empty. It had a two star rating on hotels.com so we didn’t have high expectations. As one reviewer so cleverly wrote: “Rooms are bad (more on that later).”

When we got to Durango, it was noon on the dot. Check in at the hotel was not until three. Huge bummer, right? Yes and no. Did we have to hang out in a McDonald’s for three hours? Yes as a matter of fact we did. But did we have a pleasant experience and draw several eyes because we pulled out some colored pencils and coloring books? Yes. Yes we did. You can only go on your phone sitting in one spot so many times before Twitter gets boring and you’ve looked at the same Instagram pictures ten times. But it was actually a lot of fun just sitting with some of my best friends talking about anything and everything that came to mind.

Super 8 Durango does not; I repeat not, have bad rooms. So for the rest of the trip we mocked whoever left that review. “Rooms are bad. Bad rooms. Rooms no good.” The first thing we did when we got to the room was take off our pants. Let me bring you back to the first day we spent in Telluride. We were eaten alive by mosquitos. When I say eaten alive, I am not exaggerating in the slightest. I laid down and counted my bites and I ended up with over 70 covering both of my legs and my bottom. I was so itchy I thought I was going to die right there in that hotel room.

After counting up our mosquito bites and showering for the first time in three days, we decided to hit the town and go exploring in downtown Durango.

Durango had a lot more activity than Telluride. I think we were there on a Friday night so it was like we were one of the locals just milling around all the shops and restaurants. We found the Durango tshirt company and grabbed some cheap and also cute apparel. Actually, come to think of it we all got hats. Still cute though!

Dinner was at this place called Olde Tymers’ (Timer’s?) the service was kind of slow and sporadic but the food tasted fine so no real complaints can be made.

The rest of the night was spent in the hotel where we made smores in the microwave and continued talking about how much our bug bites itched.

And those are the highlights! We woke up the next morning, walked around Durango one more time and had lunch at the restaurant my best friend’s cousin worked at. I had the best sandwich of my life there, by the way.

It was easily the best and most interesting road trip I’ve been on in my life and I wouldn’t have traded a single thing for it. I’m so grateful for the experience and for the opportunity to get even closer to such already amazing friends.


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