Posted on Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Ben—Immediately after Breckenridge we had a couple of awesome little shows in Leadville and Vail—at the Provin’ Grounds Café and the Vail Mountain School, respectively.
Leadville was an awesome scene. A good old mining town with more bars than anything else. The simple things in life are often the sweetest, and the simple sweetness in Leadville seems to be found in either the bottom of a mine or the bottom of a glass. Good times, great crowd packed into a little coffee shop. Afterwards, we hit the town and found ourselves talking to this old timer who insisted that we could see Doc Holliday’s face smoking a cigarette on a broken tile in Leadville’s oldest bar. We thought he might be smoking something himself, but eventually the image resolved itself and… well, check out the picture below and decide for yourself. After assuring him that Doc Holliday was indeed alive and well among the tiles, we pulled out the inflatable bed in the parking lot behind the bar, and, tucking it behind a tractor in a dark corner that I can only imagine was the secret local’s urinal, we passed out into high-altitude dreams.
Waking up on cold asphalt—by this time the great AirBed had developed a bit of a leak—we packed up and the Colt galloped to Vail. With the help of the great Michael Ioli, telemark-maestro, our projection quality was the best it’s been since Aspen, and the film looked fabulously beautiful on their huge new screen. It’s always so great to see the film the way it is MEANT to be seen, in all it’s glistening glory. It wasn’t long before we found ourselves at a celebratory spot in the middle of Vail, where we met the first of a crazy bunch of dudes who would define our conception of the weekend and perhaps have forever wrinkled the fabric of our existence.
To put a very long story short, Nick and I awoke once again from our sleep on the deflated airbed, this time finding ourselves on the synthetic turf soccer field of the Vail Mountain School, and more than amped to go throw ourselves out a plane from 10,500 feet strapped to the groin of a total strangers.
Sweetgrass Productions goes skydiving. Kick-starting a weekend that epitomized the laissez-faire “going with the flow,” the Colt followed a suburban loaded with four 30-somethings wild and mohawked dudes and two equally wild woman out of the mountains and into the plains outside Boulder. There were three groups of two flying up in the small Cessna, and Nick and I were the last. We got to watch the other groups go up in terror and come down in utter jubilation.
It was beginning to be the end of the day by the time our turn rolled around, and we were driving back from the landing zone with the rest of the crew, mentally preparing ourselves to hop on the plane back at the airport and to begin the stupidest thing we had ever done. In the back of our heads each of us was secretly hoping something would happen to make us not have to go up there—a freak heart attack, a rough turn of the weather, a sudden outbreak of an infectious disease, perhaps, anything—when suddenly the front window of the shortbus exploded. My immediate thought was that someone had jumped off the top of the overpass onto the windshield, and the sudden images flashing into my head of blood, limbs, and hours of police paperwork seemed actually calming considering that I wouldn’t have to get up in that plane. It quickly became apparent, however, as we swerved at 60 mph through traffic, that the hood of the van had been poorly locked and had slammed up into the window, blocking all vision. Everyone was screaming as the driver frantically tried to slow down without veering off the side of the road or into the traffic flying by in the right lane. Eventually we ground to a halt, unscathed, and everything settled in cloud of obscenities.
I don’t know whether this experience helped to calm our nerves or whether it simply exacerbated them, but from then on everything seemed to be in a daze, and suddenly Nick and I were watching through the open door of the plane as the tarmac rolled away underneath us and the plane jittered into the air. Nick’s partner, an older fellow, was filling him with all kinds of information, what-ifs and do’s and don’ts, while my guy, a man of few words, told me to “don’t worry about a goddamn thing, kid, since once you’re up there, the last thing you’ll be thinking about is all the confusing junk I could tell you.” And believe it or not, the man was right. As we rolled up near 10,500 feet and entered the clouds, I don’t think a single logical synapse was firing in my oxygen-deprived skull. Maybe that’s why I can’t remember the entire thing, and maybe that’s why I won’t try to tell you how it felt. It is a feeling beyond description that defies every preconception you have about your body and how it is supposed to function in this physical world we think we wholly inhabit. Like oh so many things that flirt with the transcendental, it must be done to be believed. Adrenaline in the blood, fear in the eyes, and an experience you will never forget. If you consider your life boring, do this today and you’ll hit the ground with a whole new perspective. We will be at it again as soon as possible.
After that minor turning point in our oh-so-short lives, the fabled Colt charged back up to Vail with the intention of catching the Beaver Creek premiere of Absinthe Films’ Ready, and then going out to Mohawk Jolby’s manic birthday party—one of the guys we were now blood-brothers with due to our brief encounter with Aerial Fear.
I’d been looking forward to the Absinthe film for quite some time—they make my favorite snowboard films yearly, and I think last years Optimistic? is one of the best snowboard films ever made. Plus, it seemed nice to be the one receiving the show, rather than throwing it ourselves. A market ourselves all day long, can’t we be marketed to once in a while? All told though, I thought the film was a bit of a disappointment, and despite an awesome showing from the legend Jeremy Jones and the always good Wolle Nyvelt and Nicholas Muller, there wasn’t anything new there, and the style seemed scattered and incongruous. They’ll do better next year. In the meantime though, I’ve heard some things about this new movie by these dudes Sweetgrass Productions, maybe you’ve heard of themtheyvegotthisnewmoviecalledhandcutmaybeyoushouldcheckitout?!? Well, it never stops, but every now and then you can take a break and enjoy the competition, right? Our films are entirely different, but I am a firm believer that it takes all kinds and that there is a place for all. No use putting the other guy down when in the end we all just want to be outside on the snow– a concept that I think is often lost in the huge and vicious market that is the winter sports industry. This will probably deserve a blog of it’s own at some point, so I’ll cut myself off on a skiporn vs skiart debate “can’t we all be friends rant.” All I’ll say for now is, do your thing, live it and love it.
So much for the film review. Anyhow, after the Absinthe show, Colt made serious pace to Jolby’s birthday party in Vail, and good times were had by all. Anyhow, Nick and I woke up Sunday afternoon in our own Tempurpedic mattresses in a nice hotel room. Life has a way of coming together, no? After our previous nights of sleeping on the eternally uninflated AirBed, this was a welcome realization for both our spirits and our backs.
Needless to say we made it to Glenwood Springs hoping to finally recuperate from our adrenaline soaked weekend in time for our show there on Wednesday. Of course, it was not to be, and we were hardly 10 miles outside of Vail when a car full of cackling hooligans rolled alongside and dropped the windows, shouting wild mohawkish wombat cries into the highway jetstream, and gesturing for us to follow. Ah Jolby, how we had missed you. C’est la vie on la rue, and so we followed them over 30 miles, through sketchy dirt roads upon which the valiant Colt could hardly maintain a grip, until we arrived at the Center of Universe (buy the bumper sticker): KK’s Barbeque. Apparently it was the last day of the season for this living legend, this bonafide hurler of meat patties and rustler of ribs. Jolby had an entire crew gathered there, and we feasted on innumerable fabulous ribs and spiced pickles, all in the middle of the single road of some weird town in the middle of dusky nowhere. There have been few finer endings to a wild weekend. Thanks KK, and thanks fate. Although we wanted to stay, the Colt beckoned with its loving metallic call, and we rambled on to Glenwood Springs, where we fell asleep on a road high above the city lights. A beautiful weekend, yes.
The Center of the UniverseNick Likes PicklesKK. Vegetarians beware.
Nick Likes Pickles
KK will master your meat.
I had intended to end this already long post here, but I feel one thing should be noted that should no doubt be constantly on the mind of any aspiring or practiced ski bum. When you roll into an entirely new town past nightfall in your 1987 Duct Tape Terror Wagon, how exactly do you decide where it is safe to camp outside? This question is a difficult one, and depends on a number of environmental and physical factors, for instance: what is your level of exhaustion (it is a given that there is SOME)? Are you willing to be awoken by headlights, or perhaps never awake, if in the dark you have accidently bedded down in the center of the gravel road and not on the side of it? Are you willing to sacrifice relative privacy for an unlevel or precarious slope? These questions and many others circulate constantly through Nick and my heads nearly every night as we randomly drive up some dark road, hoping that it will dwindle away to shadowy dead ends or secret nooks. This is our life. A weird life, yes, but once you are in your sleeping bag with a rotten deflating airbed below you and the stars above, you usually must concede, wherever you are, you have always found the right place.