I don’t even want to type it, but it’s my final week in the States, and although I’ve said similar things on previous occasions, this really will be the last for a long time.
For the remaining days, me and Grace are heading out of Denver and off to explore different places. First up is a cabin in a place called Coal Creek Canyon.
The cabin sits on land owned by Grace’s family, and was built by them sometime in the early 70s. From the way she spoke about it, I thought it was going to be some sort of shack – a tin roof held up by a couple of bits of string. Instead, it was like a proper house in the woods, complete with classic furnishings. I mean, how cool is this fridge?
The land itself is nestled in the forest near a tiny village in the ‘mountains’ – roughly 9000 feet above sea level. For a bit of comparison, the peak of Ben Nevis (the highest mountain in the UK) is around 4000; the City of Denver itself clocks in at 5000. For those not familiar with that sort of altitude, it really screws with your breathing. I’m out of puff after walking up some of the steeper streets in Glasgow, so a short trek in the woods can rapidly take it out of you. Far easier to sit outside and drink champagne.
Despite being close to power lines and paved roads, the area felt fairly isolated and cut off. It may have been my unfamiliarity with all of the barbed wire and ‘No Trespassing’ signs, coming from a place like Scotland (thank you Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003!), or perhaps just from watching too many American horror films, but there was definitely something potentially eery about the place.
It didn’t help that we had to cross somebody else’s land in order to get to the cabin, or indeed that we found the gates we had come through on the first day padlocked the next. I had Jeepers Creepers-esque images of a shotgun toting lunatic forcing us to drive 100mph at a barbed wire fence in order to escape.
Luckily, that didn’t happen.
The highlight was obviously this tyre swing though. Who doesn’t love a tyre swing? Sure, it might have been a bit threadbare, but I’m sure I recall something from my rock climbing days (don’t give me that look) about how even a single thread of those ropes could hold the weight of a person.
That’s what I told myself anyway.
Being the intrepid adventurer, I climbed to the highest possible level and jumped off into the unknown. The rope did its job, but my aim proved to be terrible, and I crashed straight into a tree, nigh on ripping out all of the piercings on my right ear.
Grace was far more graceful. (no pun intended)
It wasn’t till later when we were looking at the pictures and decided that there was something even more odd about the whole thing. After all, those were wee stones… and this area regularly gets covered in a substantial amount of snow. How on earth did they stay balanced? We returned the next day to investigate, and this is what we found…
Whilst it should probably have helped to discover the reason for the rock’s uncanny ability to balance despite the elements, this revelation just raised more questions. Who would do something like that, and how? It’s not as if those type of rocks were just lying around, nor could the precise size of hole have been made by just any old drilling equipment.
Anyway, we heated up some toasted sandwiches we had bought earlier in the day from a place in Denver called Snarf’s (best name ever?), and drank some expensive whiskey-cask aged port whilst we played Scrabble. Apparently individuals in a two player game should be obtaining a score of about 300-400.
Instead, I proved my manly credentials by having Grace build a fire, and we read Gary Larson cartoons together.
The next day I tried my hand at chopping wood. I’ve always fancied myself as being one to operate an axe – be it as some type of macho outdoor camping type (I’ve got the beard for it at least), or just wielding one like a maniac.
That and it was clearly the wrong type of wood.