This past March my wife and I attended a wedding in Colorado. She was a beautiful bridesmaid. The ceremony was in the Rockies where we had sun, rain, and snow all on the same day. A great place it was for our friends to promise their entire lives to each other.
Earlier in the day I had several hours of free time, so I wondered what to do. I wanted some time in solitude, just for myself, before the busy wedding activities of the evening. I talked about hiking, but when I hiked 100 feet from the dining are to our room at the resort, I was winded! There’s no way I would survive a trail that day. (We were nearly 8,000 feet in elevation. Those heights will take it out of you fast when you’re used to much less than that.)
I decided to go to the closest town to relax and have lunch. A fine mist drifted over the mountains during mid-morning. As I drove down the mountain, then north to town, the mist turned to light rain. I did not want to walk around in the rain or sit inside all day.
Further Search for Solitude
I turned around and drove south, away from the rain and the Collegiate Peaks. I re-traced the blacktop highway of how we came to find this place. There were other towns scattered throughout the valley, and plenty of roadside activities along the Arkansas River–surely I could find something to do and a place to eat!
As I looked around, I noticed several vehicles parked at every fishing spot and campground in sight. I pulled into a spot and attempted to locate a day-pass area, but I wasn’t there to fish, and I didn’t want to pay three dollars, so I decided to keep driving instead. I drove through the next town, wondering if I should stop. I kept going to see what was open further down the road. I should have known better; it was a Saturday and I was on the main drag in the valley. I should have expected many people outdoors!
Frustrated, I went back into town and parked the car at a downtown park. I explored several blocks on foot, looking through the windows of bars, restaurants, and diners. It did not take me long to choose who would get my business that day to fill my stomach.
We ate a large breakfast earlier (a brunch, really), so I was not ready to eat yet. Let’s work up an appetite first, I thought. So I continued to explore, walking each block with my gray sweatshirt on, sticking out like I am not from this place.
I walked up one block a ways, and cut across another. I took a photo of some old miniature film reels I found in one window. Then I located a quaint bookstore. I’ll have to stop in there, too, I thought, but not yet.
A few minutes later I found myself in the library, then back to the bookstore.
This was a small store. Not too many titles available, yet they had many I recognized–some new, some classics in original binding.
Three books called my name as I browsed, yet only one jumped into my hands. My heart was drawn to buy this book. I double-checked my wallet. I had just enough cash. As I walked out, I only had spare change left. I truly spent my last cash in hand on a book.
Though I’ve never read anything by him before, my early afternoon in the park was peaceful, focused On Writing with Stephen King.