We traveled only 160 miles today, riding from the town of Montrose, Colorado to the Small town of Crestone, which is nestled at the western base of the Sangre De Christo Mountains just a few miles north of the Great Sand Dunes National Park.
The road across route fifty in Colorado is a fun ride on a motorcycle. It has a lot of tight curves and switchbacks as you climb and descend and then climb your way up to the continental divide at Monarch pass at an elevation of 11312 feet. Which, by the way, is the highest I have been on the bike. Especially since I don't drink and drive.
Tight curves and switchbacks invite aggressive riding on a motorcycle, especially when there were as few cars on the road as there were today. The wisdom I have acquired from age, however, invites caution.
That sounds pretty good doesn’t it? But to be bluntly honest, it’s more the fear of sliding off a steep cliff, all the while slowly separating in mid-air from almost a thousand pounds of steel that keeps me from letting out that kid that’s still inside me when I ride on roads like we traveled on today.
You see, I have a maximum lean angle on the bike that is comfortable. I don’t know what it is, but I can tell you it’s more than a few degrees less than when the foot pedal of the bike scrapes the ground. If I lean to far and the foot pedal gets close or touches the pavement, you can be certain that it is prayer that gets me around the rest of the turn and not skill. Today, God only had to grab the handlebars once. The rest of the time it was all fun.
Along that road from Montrose toward the town of Salida you ride through the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. For twenty-five miles or more you hug the edge of Black Canyon Lake with its several hundred miles of beautiful shoreline.
In the eastern part of this country, any body of water bigger than a puddle has at least three McMansions along its edge and another one or two being built in between. On this lake, there was not one house in sight.
Now I know that no one wants to spoil a national park, but I’ll just bet that if the Government offered these prime shoreline lots for sale in the New York Times that a bunch of hedge fund managers and bank CEO’s would be out here in a jiffy snapping up every lot in sight using the bonuses they received for losing all of our money. My plan would be to use the funds the Government would receive for the land to pay down the national debt. And then late some night raise the height of the damn at the end of the lake. That way they will all get a chance to experience what it’s like when your investments are deep under water.
Last year I came to the town of Crestone to visit the daughter of a good friend of mine. It is the home of almost thirty spiritual centers from a Buddhist monastery to a group of people cultivating seeds that will thrive at high altitudes. I will admit to thinking that some of these groups ranked very high on my weird meter. I won’t go over the less than 24 hour-long experience that I had here, because I wrote about that last year on Gather. I will say that I left this town understanding the nature of who I truly am better than any time in my life, and the passage of a year has not changed that. I’m back for another night at a great bed and breakfast inn called the Coll House and dinner with my neighbor’s daughter and my riding buddy, Jim. I’m sure that when I leave tomorrow I’ll know more about myself than I ever have: Even if it’s only whether my stomach can take Cambodian food or not. I’ll let you know tomorrow, or then again, maybe not.