Thursday nights are the beginning to my weekend, having Friday and Saturday off. The school I live/work at is built on a contour in our own slice of heaven up in the hills outside of town. An incredible place, but it is a fish bowl life at times. Sometimes you just need to get out and stretch your fins, if you will.
So as the full moon rose over our ever-present monoliths, I began the always stellar voyage into town. Coming down our long driveway that opens up into the greater Estes Valley never disappoints. Rocky Mtn National Park fills the western horizon with snow covered ranges, sometimes so clear they seem closer than they are, sometimes hidden in their own weather systems, sometimes glowing in the moonlight like this night, and sometimes so bright from the snow's reflection that capturing them with a lens is nearly impossible.
And there's the wind. My oh my, this damn wind. It's maybe a 2-3 mile descent into town and it's rare that I'm don't have to pedal forcefully to keep moving. The gusts are heavy and often unending, making for difficult downhills. Luckily, the other common obstacle has only been dealt with while driving. Elk. I'm not looking forward to the night I come across a gang of elk, a big bull and his heirem, aimlessly crossing the road. It's been a humbling experience to drive through them in a car.
I was intending to grab a bite and a beer at one of Estes Park's several mediocre mexican joints, but alas, like most of businesses in town, the one I had in mind closed their doors recently for the slow winter. So I kept riding up the short, heavily lit main street, to see what else town had to offer. I cringed as I passed several businesses closed for the season, but blaring some of the worst christmas music onto the street for all to hear. It wasn't getting me into "the spirit" as it might have been intended to. Downtown is chock full of tacky tourist traps; a mountain beach town, complete with tie-dyed t-shirts and salt water taffy shops. Yes, salt water taffy. In Colorado. Not two minutes and I was at the other end of town, coming up short for appetizing dinner options and needing a drink more than when I left.
Ah, but what if I rolled up the hill a little, just outside of downtown? There lies the Stanley Hotel and Colorado's largest selection of whiskey (I later learned). The very same hotel of The Shining, and perhaps more importantly, Dumb and Dumber fame. It's a bit on the classier side of things, but I could roll down my pants and take off my wind jacket. This is Colorado after all. They expect beards and burliness. At least the tourists that flow through this place do. It was my best option.
No bike racks at a place like this, so I locked up to a No Parking sign, rolled down my pants to best conceal my mtb shoes, shed my wind jacket, neoprene gloves (which are amazing!) and cycling cap. Once at the marble and wood bar, I knew instantly that I made the right choice. It was a most enjoyable culinary and lone-wolf at a bar experience.
On my return ride it dawned on me that I was out of any sort of libation back home, so a stop at Rambo's, possibly the best named liquor store I've come across, was in order. But I was travelling light and did not have a bag. What to do, what to do...Round bottles and double bags but of course. Luckily there was an affordable bourbon packaged in such a bottle. One must celebrate these little moments of ingenuity.