Okay, so it’s really Nederland, Colorado, not “the Nederlands,” but that just rolls of the tongue so much more smoothly. Plus I feel like I’m in Europe when I say it that way.
Anyway, man were we relieved to pull into Boulder. Civilization. Phone service. Wifi. Little of note on the drive from Rapid City to Colorado, besides the incredibly flat and monotonous Nebraska, where we stopped in a random town for a steak lunch. We also forgot about Roadside America because we were so feverishly trying to keep up with the plot of a more-obscure-than-normal Murakami audio book.
We kept right on going through the college town of boulder to Nederland, Colorado where we’d be staying for two nights. A friend of Olga’s had so graciously invited us to his mountainside home, complete with wrap around deck, into which a hot tub and full sized trampoline were built. Heaven. The first thing I did after introducing myself and throwin my bags down was jump on that trampoline. And boy was it satisfying. Ain’t nothing like bouncing high while gazing out over the crystal clear lake and craggy mountains.
Darryl, our host, was a singer/songwriter originally from California, and he had one really important thing he wanted to show us in the tiny town of Nederland, Co: The Carousel of Happiness. He was so excited that he clapped his hands as he explained that we simply must go take a ride. So we did. The Carousel of Happiness is a handmade wooden marry-go-round in the center of town. It’s beautiful. And for the second time that day, I’d felt as if I’d been transported back to childhood (trampoline was the first). I chose the dolphin and Olga chose the camel. We went ’round and ’round while giggling like school girls, until the carousel slowly came to a stop and we were 28 again…
Then we went for a leisurely hike around Barker Reservoir, which was a welcome use of muscle strength after a long trip from South Dakota. This is when Darryl told us about Frozen Dead Guy Day Festival in Nederland. Apparently there was once a Swede who was obsessed with cryogenics and subsequently froze his recently deceased grandfather. Then this Swede got deported for saying inappropriate things at the airport, leaving his cryogenically frozen grandpa all alone, frozen in time and in Colorado. Still to this day, the old man is just chillin up in some garage near Darryl’s house. Every year there’s a celebration on his behalf, complete with frozen turkey bowling, coffin races and the elegant Blue Ball. Sorry we missed that….
On our way back from the hike, Darryl, Olga and I settled at the local brewery for a refreshing beverage and some grub. We decided that it has been a long day, and Olga and I wanted nothing more than to go home and soak in the hot tub while gazing at the wide open Colorado sky, so we headed home to do just that. The stars sure are bright and abundant out west. “Not far from the city lights, but we can see the stars at night, baby, baaabbyyy,” as the Avett Brothers say, and as I’d someday like to live…
Next morning I walked into town for a much needed and much anticipated yoga session at Tadasana Mountain studio, where I met some lovely people and really stretched and lengthened my muscles. This was my first practice since the beginning of the road trip, and it felt sooooo good. Olga met me after for a light breakfast before we headed to Red Rocks for a hot and scenic hike, which took a few hours out of our afternoon, followed by happy hour and an early evening snack in Boulder.
I found boulder to be an interesting town. Great people watching. More barefoot folks than folks wearing shoes. More dreads than neatly combed manes. And we determined that more people were high than were not high… which is totally fine by me, unless they’re trying to give you directions or take your order. After a brief 1000 degree tour of the college town, we made the short trip back to Nederland to rest and recuperate before walking into town for dinner. All we wanted was a glass of wine and a small snack, and although Nederland has a surprising amount of options for such a miniscule little town, there weren’t many options for fine wine… so we went back to the brewery, got a glass of mediocre vino, the caprese salad and a scoop of ice cream, and headed home to bed.
I woke up early again to do yoga and then again, met Olga for breakfast and coffee. We bid Darryl and his lovely home farewell before hitting the road to a nearby trail, the Arapaho Pass. It took us a good 35 minutes to reach the trailhead from Nederland. We even had our doubts that we were driving in the right direction and almost turned around a few times on the way, but decided to forge ahead and kept be-bopping over and around the potholes in the off road trek to the trail. At this time I was glad I decided on the Rav 4 and not the Mini. Luckily our determination paid off. Once we arrived and parked at the Pass, we were thrilled to find a beautifully pristine and delightfully challenging hike.
Eight miles total, we experienced many of the elements characteristic of hiking, totally unprepared, in Colorado: heat, altitude, sudden rain, fog and thunder, chills, hunger…. We made it up to the Great Divide with little trouble, but then the storm came raging and rumbling in, at speeds you’d never expect. Dark, menacing sky in the near distance. We were stuck at the top of a mountain, freezing in our spandex and tank tops, with no food or water and no outer layer for warmth. Here we go again….. We hiked/ran back to our car at super speed, and made it moments before the storm really crashed down. Another close hiking call. What was it with us and close calls? (Don’t answer that)
We devoured some apples and espresso almond butter and fresh bread that we’d picked up from the Nederland co-op earlier that day, and then hit the road north towards Rock Springs, where we’d decided to split up the trip to Jackson. You see, Olga and I don’t do well with any trip longer than say, 7.5 or 8 hours. Shit starts to get weird after that amount of time. So we try to keep the behind-the-wheel time to a minimum. Hence our random pit stop in Rock Springs. We ate at a blah steakhouse while trying to locate a cheap hotel. Turned out that Rock Springs was quite a destination spot… for whom we never quite figured out, but all the hotels were straight booked up, so we dejectedly got back into our ride and drove west to Green River, where we stayed at the most interesting Hampton Inn on the planet. It was surrounded by mysterious table-like rock structures. Check it out.
We slept like babies. And we’d need the rest for our trip to Jackson Hole, where all kinds of wonderful and amazing activities, not to mention wonderful and amazing friends, both old and new, awaited.