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My good friend just got back from a month-long trip through the Colorado Trail.  One of the places he stopped was a tiny town called Salida.  He sent me some pictures from a beer-festival he attended there.  By coincidence I have also been to Salida.  I was there with one friend after another friend had left me and my buddy Patrick in Boulder which is another story for another time.

Salida proved to be one of the more memorable experiences of my young life (I was 21.)  This is what I wrote to Mike this morning:

I was in Salida with Patrick and Cat after Kevin Bourque left us in Boulder.  Cat picked us up and got us out to California via Salida, Durango, AZ and Utah.  Cat knew some heads in Salida and maybe even lived there for a while(?)  The heads that she knew were all snowboarders that ripped Monarch in the winter and worked all summer.  One afternoon we went to this party up on the side of mountain where one of Cat’s friend’s had property.

It was barely a road up there and Cat explained to us that the guy who owned the property was named Kenny and he had AIDS.  Kenny got AIDS from an infected blood transfusion when he was young.  The hospital had paid Kenny money for their error and he bought the property on the side of the mountain to live out his days.

There was a fire going, even though it was the middle of the day, and we dug a hole in the ground and packed it with ice and a keg and just hung out.  Kenny was gracious, kind and easy going.  He had his woman, dogs, lots of weed and it was maybe my favorite day of that cross-country road trip.

It was also a constant reminder of how fragile life can be.  There we were with Cat because Kevin had essentially lost a hold on reality and we were kicking it with someone else who was living with a terminal illness, enjoying the afternoon in southern Colorado.  It was a real beauitful day, but there was a stark contrast that I’ll never forget.  We never saw Kenny’s house.  From what I heard it was an A-frame, really cool.  We were all chilling out on this little spot where there were no roads, no buildings, no noise except from the conversations and laughter of the afternoon.

If I had met Kenny at a restaurant or in town somewhere I’m sure he’d still leave an impression on me, but engaging with someone in the natural world, away from the distractions and hype of civilization is a very peaceful way to get to know them.  It is letting a guard down whether you realize it or not, it is a softer version of life.

I’m not sure what Kenny’s situation is today but I imagine wherever he is, he is at peace.

salida, co