Rain drops spatter on the windshield, as I cross the cold front descending on Grand Junction. In a few hours, it will dump 12 inches of powder on the Vail pass, an hour behind me. For now it’s just a few intermittent droplets, coming and going in brief waves and generating a dust cloud behind me which is beginning to slide from tan to orange as the sun sets ahead. The drive from Denver has taken 4 hours, including a pause to watch a half dozen big horn sheep walk along the slope next to I-70 and a second to enjoy a few minutes beside the Rifle River. Everything here is novel.
I’m on my way to meet up with a massive group of climbers in Indian Creek, friends of a friend from DC. I’ll have a week to tear my hands to pieces on the iconic splitter cracks near Moab. The Creek has been drawing climbers for years and this group has been celebrating Creeksgiving for the past 3. Harrison, my DC friend, went to school at Vanderbilt and this troupe, now dispersed across the country, are graduates. I’ve met a few on other trips to the Red River Gorge, in Kentucky, and Table Mountain, in North Carolina. This will be far different climbing.
I alway feel under-prepared for trips, frequently a product of not really preparing ahead of time. Historically, I’ve used finals or work projects as excuses for not bothering to plan ahead; this time it is an apartment search in Denver. That’s how I justify buying more gear than I use and how I end up with an over-packed pile of marginally sorted gear, as is the case behind me in the Jeep. The predictable outcome is that I always forget something. Today I have a couple hours to kill while I wait on Harrison and company in Moab – the plan is to caravan the last stretch as I don’t know who I am looking for and there is no cell service at the Creek – so I dash from the stool at The Moab Brewery for a quick run in to the City Market to pick up the cocoa I will certainly want tomorrow morning. I’m sure I’ll discover whatever else I’ve forgotten, right about the time I’m warming up with my morning cocoa. At least Moab is only an hour back and home to a generous number of gear shops to address just such needs.
I freely admit that I am a weekend warrior. I moved to Denver to open up the range of options I have access to on those soldiering benders. In the three weeks I’ve been in Boulder, staying in the guest room belonging to my girlfriend’s former roommate’s sister (which makes us, absolutely nothing!), I’ve managed a climbing trip to Estes Park and a snowboarding trip to Breckenridge. The latter was a product of an email the night before to a friend who, as I learned, had just bought skis a few hours earlier.
I was and still am convinced that there will be no shortage of day trips and people with an inclination to go, but that isn’t the worry I had about moving to Denver. To clarify, I’m also an unabashed nerd, and will argue at length about what that means. In this context I mean board games. Not the monopoly of family fights in days past, but raging “Ameritrash” or euro strategy games, the more complicated the better. Turns out, I’ve stumbled upon a haven for gamers, meeting more than a handful of people with more games than I by an order of magnitude. Concerns on that front have been assuaged.