High Summer

I’m a sucker for mountain weddings. I even like those Hansel-and-Gretel, follow-the-bread-crumbs-through-the-woods-style occasions where it seems you’ve got to drive up half a dozen dirt roads just to find the venue. There’s something about the cool alpine air, the stunning scenery, and the lasting image of the happy couple exchanging vows in a church not made by hands that hits me right in the middle of my snow-capped soul.

Those weddings also provide the perfect excuse for a local road trip to Aspen, Telluride, Keystone. A reason to shine up the cowboy boots (my dress shoes), dig out the blazer (which I’ve never worn for work), and go make new friends while playing tourist at some perfect town you keep saying you’ve got to take the time to know better soon.

On a side note, at the past two weddings I’ve been to, I’ve seen something that kind of blew me away. That something was a pair of pasty, slightly bald, lily-white groomsmen who were amazingly good at breakdancing. After being wallflowers the majority of each event, these otherwise unremarkable “wedding extras,” suddenly popped out of their seats when the DJ dropped the beat and spun headspins across the floor.

Has anyone else ever seen this before? Is it some underground cult phenomena, like Ninja Warrior? Imagine if people danced this passionately to jam bands. Ok. They do.

Grooving

Speaking of jam bands, I’ve burned up a lot of space smoking them in this column. I have targeted Phish especially (does anyone else think they sound like Berkeley music students tuning their instruments for three agonizing hours?). Then Widespread Panic (who seemed bored out of their minds the last time I saw them). And The String Cheese Incident, who recently reunited for an album and a tour, just in case you didn’t know they made recorded music or that they had broken up a few years ago.

But in the interest of taking the giant lack of a rhythm stick out of my ass, I do want to go on record saying few things in this world feel better than dancing. Even, and maybe especially, dancing to a jam band. Other than disco or house music, there is no simpler, more direct to the swerve-center music to get your limbs a-flailing, preferably in a big, green, wide-open field.

Like weddings, there are also few better—or weirder—ways to get your warm weather funk on than by camping out at one of the many music-fests Colorado hosts each summer. Not only are you guaranteed to dance your ass off, you can even bring the kids if you want (maybe even the dog and a couple of Frisbees), and drink pints of fresh craft beer without ever worrying about getting in the car.

One of my favorite high school memories was rolling into Chief Hosa Campground in Genesee Mountain Park to start celebrating a three-day stand by The Grateful Dead at Red Rocks. Unable to sleep, my two friends and I stumbled upon a Hell’s Angels birthday party with a keg and a bluegrass band. We ended up meeeting five guys who called themselves “Guidos” (they all had featured photos of their weed from High Times magazine), and enjoyed a home-cooked vegetarian breakfast with two beautiful hippie girls named Hope and Patience in the back of their VW van.

At least I think it all happened that way. Grateful Dead memories can get kind of blurry over the years.

Wandering

More than anything, summer is about seeing more of Colorado, and maybe even of the world. It’s about soaking in the sunrises and sunsets, climbing up peaks and wading down streams, taking pictures of the people you love in front of ghost town cabins, over shimmering lakes, and beneath the big “Welcome” signs at the border of every state you pass through.

It’s about road trips and unfolding miles, picking up random radio stations as your mind sorts through every person, place and furry forever friend you have ever known. Then stopping to eat a pile of pancakes at some worn and shiny mom-and-pop diner, or to drink whiskey at a loud, dusty cowboy bar. It is about buying a new pair of hiking boots, or a fly rod, or a backpack from the local retailer of the next mountain town you pass through, then thinking about that day every time you head back outdoors.

Most importantly, it is about being sweaty and sunburned and tired in the best way possible. Seared inside with a kind of lasting satisfaction which, yes, feels as comforting as a warm summer wind across your face. So when the fall comes, and that light turns all golden and gone, you can smile and ponder where all the time goes.

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