I have just spent two glorious days in Telluride, Colorado. A beautiful little gem of a ski village, that used to be a mining town, in what reminds me of the Swiss Alps. It is off-season and the Aspen’s are blooming with bright green leaves to contrast with the darker powerful evergreens, waterfalls are bursting over cliffs, and everywhere there is the feeling of enchantment.
I stayed in a beautifully restored hotel right on Main Street so I was spoiled in every way. I arrived on the day of the anticipated solar eclipse and the hotel had the perfect rooftop viewing place. After having a phenomenal square pizza at Brown Dog Pizza, I hurried my way to my hotel and hopped in the elevator. There I met Robert and in two seconds he had me grabbing two pieces of paper and a pin from my room and meeting him and his friends on the roof. I played along, knowing that the only way of safely viewing the eclipse was looking at it’s shadow through a small hole in a paper, projected on another paper. I arrived on the roof with papers in hand and was boisterously greeted by two other tourists that just happened on the scene and two lady friends of Roberts. A party was starting complete with champagne and I was welcomed open-heartedly.
It was mystical watching the change in the shadow of the moon as it crossed the sun, all of us vying who had the best shadow technique. Robert and I got to playing with our own shadows on the wall in distraction.
Here is where I need to detour just a bit. Robert is a now part-time resident of Telluride, though he was their Marshall for years. He knows everyone and everyone knows him. He is one of those guys you meet for the first time and are instantly friends. He is my imagined version of F. Scott Fitzgerald, who with his celebrated wife Zelda, partied like nobody’s business and whose lives were bigger than life, as portrayed in movies like Midnight in Paris. We all laughed, we drank, we vowed to give each other Eclipse Discounts if we ever meet again and had services we could render to one another. It was a playful and magical evening that I will cherish forever.
But that was just the start of my Telluride magic. The next morning I awoke and got ready for a hike to see the celebrated Bridal Veil Falls east of town. I was a bit, well, A LOT, nervous about driving my car up the steep, gravel, rocky road to where I could get close enough to the falls.
Putting off my trek I tripped into a darling bookstore across from my hotel and as I was coming out crossing the street I heard my name being called. It was Robert, sitting at an outdoor cafe drinking coffee. Now, how many times in a town you have never been in before do you get a bright hailing of your name? I smiled like the brightest sun and gave him a cheery good morning. He inquired about what I was doing and I asked his advice about the drive up to the falls and he said without second thought “oh, I’ll drive you up there in your car.” My mouth fell open and my eyes got huge and I accepted his offer without jumping up and down, even though I wanted to.
I now had the town’s Ex-Marshall as my tour guide for the morning, and let me tell you, I would NEVER have driven my car where we went, I would have turned back almost immediately after hitting the unmaintained road. But in his capable hands I was happy to snap pictures and gawk at the old mine buildings and beautiful views like a giggly kid.
The falls were bewitching and though we didn’t get all the way up to them, it was such a fun excursion and I felt so spoiled to learn the town’s history from my personal driver that it didn’t matter one bit.
Robert found me a sparkly crystal rock and gave me a charm out of his pocket that he designed of Bridal Veil Falls (he is a jewelry artist as well), it was the exact view I had been looking at and taking pictures of for the last 30 minutes!! I have always known that I live a charmed life, but man, here it was in physical proof, I was CHARMED! How amazing is that?! And I don’t deserve it one bit, and yet I do. I’m just a nobody like anybody else, I didn’t do anything to deserve this wonderful time but aren’t we all entitled to a magical life? YES! We are all worthy of the good in our lives and I am going to lovingly allow myself to accept it with overwhelming gratitude every step of this journey.
After getting back to the hotel and getting more advice from Robert on a beautiful hike right out of town to another waterfall, we said our good-byes, me with such joy and appreciation as I went off to climb another mountain. The hike was tremendous, I painted in a flower speckled meadow and sat next to a flowing river that was fed from the waterfall majestically flowing above me. I was delirious and rather drunk on nature and feeling like I betrayed her for many years without getting out and appreciating her more often.
But my adventure doesn’t stop here. After skipping my way back into town, high on mountain air, I pass the bar next to my hotel and see Robert holding court with the locals like the good Mr. Fitzgerald he is, bringing merriment to all and sundry. I pop in to say hello and report on my hike and in the conversation we talk about dinner and I offer to take him out as payment for his tour guide services of the morning. He graciously accepts and I ask about a darling bistro I passed in town. He knows the chef personally and we decide to go there after I clean up.
We walk into the Telluride Bistro and Robert is greeted by the chef, Sergio, with a huge bear hug, I am introduced and fawned over. Sergio offers to take care of us and make food magic without our making any decisions.
Here is another aside….I have always daydreamed of going into a restaurant and having them surprise me with whatever the chef feels like preparing…I’ve seen it in the movies plenty of times, but not in my own life, UNTIL NOW! But this is how F. Scott Fitzgerald lives and tonight I am Zelda, basking in the glow of my favored escort. Needless to say the meal was over-the-top phenomenal. Three fresh and priceless courses, a bottle of Chardonnay and conversation that was not selfish but generous in every way. Sergio sat with us for a while as we were finishing our veal with fresh artichoke, capers, lemon, with fancy cut beet and carrots and potatoes on the side. I watched Robert in action, genuinely inquiring after the wellness of our chef and lauding him with much-deserved praise. He is a master at putting people at ease and I watch closely to learn from him.
We say farewell after paying a much diminished bill, I’m not sure who was responsible for that bit of subterfuge, but I’m guessing it was Robert and we walk up the street to my hotel. Now as if that wasn’t enough of the best day ever, we pass another bar with people dancing inside. Without hesitation Robert pulls me inside and I am swished and spun around the floor by him and a bevy of friendly tourists. And for those of you that don’t know me well, dancing is just about my favorite thing to do. So to end an evening like this, well, it was sublime.
What a day, what a life I’m living. As I drove away this morning I blew kisses out my window and waved out the sunroof in bliss to this beautiful place. Yet there was a familiar ache too, rather like leaving the best summer camp as a kid and all your new-found friends. It was sad to have it over, but also hopeful that the next chapter will be just as amazing. I am living the trip of a lifetime, I am so damn lucky….Landslide came on my radio and I sang along….
I took my love, I took it down
Climbed a mountain and I turned around
And I saw my reflection in the snow-covered hills
Till the landslide brought me down
Oh, mirror in the sky, what is love?
Can the child within my heart rise above?
Can I sail through the changing ocean tides?
Can I handle the seasons of my life?
Well, I’ve been afraid of changing
‘Cause I’ve built my life around you
But time makes you bolder
Even children get older and I’m getting older too
Take my love, take it down
Climb a mountain and turn around
And if you see my reflection in the snow-covered hills
Well, the landslide bring it down