If Aspen exists in a world God created, can God possibly be pro-life?
Now that I've received my smallest paycheck since I peddled CDs at Millennium Music in Charleston, SC a decade ago, I think it's time to reflect on some observations I made during my unpaid vacation to eastern Utah and southwest Colorado last week:
• The Blanding, Utah, Taco Time may not have a sign outside, but damn, that chemical-laden burrito-shaped food product they serve up at the Shell Station on the south side of town is good when you've been eating granola all day. I refuse to believe refried beans that artificially tasty could be free of lard and chemicals that don't occur in nature.
• The National Park Service keeps the Natural Bridges National Monument campground open during the winter, but it doesn't plow the campsites. I had to dig my way through a foot of snow into a campsite. You know what that means? The NPS didn't get their $10 camping fee from me that night. Sorry feds, if I have to shovel that much snow, I expect a free night of tent-pitching. And that's what I got.
• Southwest Colorado is a little rough around the edges, but damn it, it's the best part of the state. And the most interesting. Durango is quickly turning into a Southwest-style Aspen with a bit more character and charm. (Aspen, it must be said, is little more than a ghetto of banal billionaires; a cesspool of narcissism, vanity and opulence and a cancerous lesion of auto-fellating celebrity egoes.) Cortez still has its edges, and so much the better. It's where folks from the Rez come to shop and provide a healthy healthy reminder to Mesa Verde-visting tourists that not everything about southwest Colorado and the Four Corners is pretty sunsets and cliff dwellings that serve as little more than museum pieces. No, Cortez, almost more than anywhere else in Colorado, is as real a town as you can find in these parts.
• Durango has one of the most progressive contemporary fine art photography galleries anywhere in Colorado. I was captivated by its exhibition of abstract images of barbed wire fences buried in snow. It was a commentary on the West too powerful for words.
• A scene in Walsenberg, Colo., from which you can draw your own conclusions: