I have an entertainment confession to make.
As the newly appointed arts and entertainment writer, I cannot tell a lie. During the past nine months, the highlight of my entertainment life has been reduced to listening to late-night conspiracy radio programs between the Eisenhower Tunnel and Gore Pass. The stretch of my artistic appreciation has been occupied by watching the transpirations of a gigantic bird's nest just this side of Silverthorne and musing over a morphing roadside sculpture garden along Colorado Highway 9.
I desperately am in need of a Steamboat summer jam-packed with Strings in the Mountains, Perry Mansfield, free concerts, art festivals and every bit of high mountain culture I can get my hands on. It is high time to come home to the Yampa Valley.
Since August, I've been going to graduate school in Boulder on the weekdays and returning to my Stagecoach haven of life on the weekends. If frequent driving heralded the benefits of frequent flying, I'd surely have earned a journey to most any distant corner of the world.
Like last year.
Last spring, my husband and I spent six weeks in Vietnam. We have oodles of stories about traveling by dilapidated Soviet motorcycle, Chinese "motorbike," buses, train, row boat, fishing boat and foot from the northern mountains to southern jungles -- generally entertaining transportation.
But not this year.
This year, I have only tales of traveling Clear Creek Canyon, Interstate 70, Colo. 9, U.S. Highway 40, Gore Pass and Colo. 131. I drove them over and over again. I drove in the stealth darkness of night -- while callers were telling radio hosts about alien encounters, black helicopter sightings over the Pacific, and all manner of malicious and suspicious convergences. Or I drove while sunrise made the Flat Tops look most dazzling behind the towering volcanic intrusions near Yampa.
Since August, I have mastered the art of avoiding traffic so I can enjoy the scenery. After all, if you're going to spend that much time driving and your CD player is broken from day one, you might as well do your darndest to keep the rest of the drive entertaining.
I have seen signs pop out of the sage announcing a Middle Park Land Conservation District. I have watched homes rise up out of the haymeadows, ridge tops and riversides. And, oh was that a long, languorous, colorful fall? And, gee, aren't all those baby sheep and cows just the cutest things you ever saw?
No wonder there is so much beautiful art here. The scenery cries out to be painted and photographed and choreographed.
It's great to be home. I can't wait to spend all summer writing about the interesting people and projects that are inspired by our notoriously "cursed" place. I'm not ashamed to say it -- life is just more beautiful here. The potters, painters and musicians I met this week reminded me of that. And the best part is that I know they are just the tip of our arts and entertainment iceberg.
Oh, it's good to be off the road.
I will miss those radio shows and their reports of varied cosmic sightings. I will wonder what happens in that big bird's nest this summer. Alas, there's probably one simple source of automobile amusement I and my trusty Volkswagen Beetle won't miss this summer: the mysterious pastime of car-bound kids who thwomp one another while hollering "Slug-bug!" as they spy me through their parents' rear windows. But can I really blame them?
Long road trips can drive most anyone to desperate sources of entertainment.