Epic Road Trip, Part II: It’s a Bird! It’s a Plane! It’s Earthy Man!

Chautauqua Park in Boulder. "Chautauqua" is an Iroquois word that can mean "two moccasins tied together" or "bag tied at the middle" or "where the fish are taken out" or "jumping fish." Seriously. Look it up.
Chautauqua Park in Boulder. “Chautauqua” is an Iroquois word that can mean “two moccasins tied together” or “bag tied at the middle” or “where the fish are taken out” or “jumping fish.” Seriously. Look it up.

Welcome to Part II of my travel series about our epic trip out west in early July. Part I ended with a stroll through this year’s “America’s Got Talent” contestants…. I mean, Pearl Street Mall in Boulder. In Part II, we continue our story in Boulder.

(As mentioned in Part I, names have been omitted to protect the innocent and guilty alike. For the sake of smoother reading, my wife’s sister and her husband will herein be referred to as “Mr. and Mrs. Boulder.” My wife will be referred to as, well, “my wife”).

Days 2 & 3
Starting Point: Boulder, Colorado
Destination: Areas in and around Boulder
Distance: No clue (I wasn’t driving)

Saturday (Day 2) began with a trip to Red Rocks, located about 45 minutes south of Boulder. Red Rocks is an open-air ampitheatre surrounded by gigantic red rocks (hence the name; clever, eh?).  This place has seen a who’s who of musical masters, including Jimi Hendrix, Dave Matthews Band, U2, Grateful Dead, R.E.M., Def Leppard, The Beatles, and of course the king of elevator music, John Tesh.

Red Rocks may be home to scores of legendary concerts at night, but it takes on a whole different feel during the day. The theatre essentially becomes an outdoor gym for tons of exercisers who are cool with having an audience for their workouts. If you watch ABC’s “Extreme Weight Loss” (like my wife does), you’ll notice that Chris Powell makes people run the steps here in every episode. At Red Rocks, half the people there are doing their various workouts all over the steps and seating, while the other half lean over the guard rail at the top and stare. Frankly, I don’t know which half I’d belong to. Part of me would want to get my sweat on and run the steps. But then again, I’d thoroughly enjoy standing at the guard rail with cake and pizza, “inadvertently” taunting the gym rats as they reached the top.

Let's all sing the "Step by Step" theme song! Come on, you wouldn't want to disappoint Patrick Duffy, would you?
Let’s all sing the “Step by Step” theme song! Come on, you wouldn’t want to disappoint Patrick Duffy, would you?

Among the exercisers was a duo of hardcores who did every imaginable routine while we were there. You wear yourself out just watching them. I tracked them for a few minutes and wondered if they ever showed up at night for a sold-out concert. I came to the conclusion that no, they didn’t, because they wouldn’t have enough room to do their lunges and squats.

Here's the hardcore duo in action... don't look at the belly on the right... don't look at the belly on the right... crap.
Here’s the hardcore duo in action… don’t look at the belly on the right… don’t look at the belly on the right… crap.

Following a hike around the surrounding park (and a purchase of multiple shot glasses at the gift shop, naturally), we headed back for lunch and then ventured out to the Boulder Goodwill. There’s something you need to understand about my wife and I. We kinda sorta really enjoy poppin’ tags. Goodwills, consignment shops, garage sales, flea markets – we make the rounds. So why not hit an unfamiliar Goodwill on vacation? Counting the other Goodwill we hit later in the trip, I have now shopped at Goodwills in six different states. Yes, I’m proud of that. No, I don’t buy used underwear. Just thought I should clarify.

The day ended with a fantastic meal at Pearl Street Mall, this time at Boulder Cafe. And once again, we weaved our way through the street performers. The most attention-grabbing one of the night was a fellow named Earthy Man. Seemed like a nice dude. But let me tell you, this guy probably has more acid than a battery warehouse. If you approach him, he asks you to name your favorite wild animal. My wife, being the awesome person she is, said “bison.” So Earthy Man steps outside his chalk-drawn circle, then steps back in and claims he’s now a bison from the future. He told my wife that she would be reincarnated as a bison in the future. When he’s done being a future bison, he steps out of the circle and then steps back in as his “normal” self again. That’s “normal,” in quotation marks. This is followed up by an impromptu song about bison and a distribution of Earthy Bucks, money that he says will be the currency of the future. Lastly, he gave my wife and her sister a word to remember when thinking about future bison in the, ummm, future. I have no clue how to spell the word he gave them, but I can tell you it sounds like the name of a fancy French cathouse.

Kids, don't do drugs.
Kids, don’t do drugs.

Sounds pretty nutty, eh? It sounded nutty to me, too, when my wife told me about it later, in a safe location. After hearing about Earthy Man’s antics ahead of time, there was no way I’d be going anywhere near him. Mr. Boulder and I watched from a park bench several yards away, then slipped back into Boulder Cafe for a few drinks when my wife and Mrs. Boulder started looking in our direction. I’m all for saving the earth, but I’m a fairly big fan of sanity, too.

He's in the circle here, which means you're looking at a bison from the future... a bison with a guitar and cape.
He’s in the circle here, which means you’re looking at a bison from the future… a two-legged bison with a guitar and cape.

Sunday (Day 3) included a humid hike at Chautauqua Park and a less-humid climb up Flagstaff Mountain (most likely because we drove instead of walked – that speeds up the process a little bit). The view of Boulder from the Flagstaff ampitheatre was pretty phenomenal. And if you looked off into the distance, you could catch a glimpse of Denver, too.

A breathtaking view of Boulder from high up on Flagstaff Mountain.
A breathtaking view of Boulder from high up on Flagstaff Mountain.

On Monday (Day 4), we got up bright and early to begin our drive north (not “bright and early” as in “3:00 am trucker/meth head early,” but still early nonetheless). With well over 500 miles ahead of us, our eventual goal was to drive up through Wyoming and into Idaho, a stunningly beautiful state that east/west coasters confuse with Iowa and Ohio because locations that start with vowels are sooooo hard to keep track of (*sarcasm*). Join me for the upcoming Part III, as we approach a quaint cabin in Ashton, Idaho, followed by our much-anticipated journey to the park of all parks, Yellowstone National Park.

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