Monday, August 20, 2018

Cancer: Colorado

Visit Colorado! Now with Scenery! Also: Weather!
I’ve never been to Colorado before. I’ve been through it several times; the Denver airport is a lovely stopover to points west and is remarkably uncomplicated to navigate. That’s all I know about Denver. Cathy, on the other hand, nearly moved to Colorado, having been there several times as a teenager. She loves it. We’d been planning a trip there for four or more years; a return to our road trips of yore, where we would find a nice bed and breakfast and hole up for a few days, and maybe sightsee. We even had our spot for Colorado all picked out: Manitou Springs, at the base of Pike’s Peak. Lots of little shops, cafes, and so forth to serve the tourist trade. Or if you want, you can just stare at the mountains. Or both.

We never took that trip. Something always got in the way. Usually money, or a lack of help at the theater, or both, conspired to keep us here and saying to ourselves, “we’ll try again next year.”

That thinking is out the window now. We grabbed a random Day sister—in this case, Barbara, who was wanted to go as well—and we hurled ourselves North and West. Our destination was Pueblo, a city roughly the size of Wichita Falls. This city was between Manitou Springs, where we were trying to go, and Trinidad, where we were encouraged to go. This middle of the road option seemed to be the best way to check everything in the area out without overdoing it.

This eight-hour odyssey was not a pleasant drive, but in North Texas, what is, really? This is the most neglected and sparsely populated and most under-developed part of the state. I mention this only in passing that a lot of the towns on the way to Colorado look like they are on their last legs. The rest areas are in much better shape. Let’s put a pin in that for now.

Pueblo, Colorado, is famous for one thing: the Consumer Information Catalogue. If you don’t remember it, here’s a reminder:
The Consumer Information catalog ceased to be in 2016, but you can watch this stultifying tribute from 2011, made for their 50th anniversary.  I always wanted one of those catalogs. Mail used to be so cool.

Here’s another fun fact about Pueblo, Colorado: It’s a real shithole. Wait, that’s not fair, let me re-phrase: it’s a shithole in the process of re-imagining itself. Cathy was kinder, but she still considered it “the sketchiest place I’ve ever been to,” and she’s been to Lawton, Oklahoma. It was a strange place, equal parts Fallout 4 and Austin, Texas, circa 1989. There were artist spaces for rent in large, industrial warehouses that were only partially restored. There was a lot of infrastructure repair going on, and the constant detours sent you down over the railroad tracks, where the décor and the vibe was right out of The Walking Dead.

Thankfully our hotel wasn’t in a sketchy part of town, but it was right next to a Jug and Loaf, and I am not making that name up. What compulsion drives people to name convenience stores like clown shoes, anyway? Wag-a-Bag, Jug and Loaf, Toot ‘n Tote, Did people in the 1970’s look at the success of Stucky’s and think, “It’s gotta be the name! It can’t possibly be the nut log!” Then again, I stop at Buc-ee’s whenever I get the chance, so I have no room to kvetch.

Traveling with two women—sisters, who speak in their own kind of language, a mishmash of clicks and chirps, mostly—it not the most relaxing thing in the world. But once we got there, and got settled, we were all able to unwind, and re-acquaint ourselves with the concept of commercials on the hotel TV.  At one point during the NCIS marathon, Cathy said, “Why is that lady talking when I want to find out what happens next?”

“That’s how they pay for the show,” I said.

“That sucks,” she replied.

Look! It's some numbskull standing in front of two of
the three Lovely Day Sisters.
Looking at it now, it does seem kinda skewed. But on the other hand, I’ve got jingles for things that no longer exist, stored in my memory, that will be there until I die. So, I think we know who the asshole is in this scenario, don’t we? That’s right, it’s them. Stupid jingles.

One of the other yardsticks of civilization (with apologies to soap and Tyler Durden) is the presence of a book store. Pueblo has a big-ass Barnes & Noble, which beats nothing at all, I guess, and also one comic shop. I didn’t go to either of these things, but it’s nice to know they are there. Most of the weekend was spent tending to Cathy or taking her places, as needed. She and her sister did a lot of driving and looking and navigating.

While Pueblo isn’t very desirable, or easy to drive through, Manitou Springs and Trinidad, on the other hand, were very cute and easy to navigate, once you got off of the main roads. All of these places looked like they got an economic shot in the arm several years ago. I wonder what caused it?

Up next: What Caused It.

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