Back in 1997, my old college roommate Zach and I decided to travel cross country for about a month after successfully completing our sophomore year in college. Neither one of us had a vehicle that could handle the wear and tear of a cross country trip, but we were offered a ride with some friends who took us as far as Durango Colorado. We gladly accepted. It was the first time I had ever layed eyes on the Rockies, and I immediately fell in love with the landscape. In fact, Colorado was, and still is in my mind, my adopted home.
I will never forget the feeling of our friends leaving us in Durango. Here we were, Zach and I both 19 years old, in a strange land, left with nothing except for the camping gear we carried on our backpacks and the youthful optimism and excitement of a couple of college students ready for a summer of adventure.
As the sun was a couple of hours from setting, our first priority was finding a place to sleep. As Zach and I examined the map, we decided to try our thumbs at hitchhiking for the first time. It seemed outside of town was our best option at finding a wooded area to crash for the night. As we hiked through town with our backpacks, we were treated by the locals as celebrities. It seemed everyone was honking and waving at us, sending us positive energy for our journey.
Within a couple of minutes of bearing our thumbs, our first ride came from a couple of beautiful girls driving a red corvette convertible blasting Skid Roe from the car stereo. Zach and I looked at each other and said, "This is going to be the best trip ever!!" The omens were looking good.
The girls sped us through the outskirts of Durango and into the countryside, dominated by evergreen covered mountains, blue skies, and rocky outposts. I watched the green and yellow Durango train chug along through the valley from the back seat of the convertible.
Our ride ended sooner than we would have wanted, but Zach and I got back to the business of finding a place to sleep. Once we sadly said goodbye to our beautiful chauffeurs, Zach and I resumed our hike down the road outside of town. We hiked no more than five minutes when all of a sudden we heard, "Hey! Where are you guys heading?"
"We're looking for a place to crash for the night." Zach replied.
"Why don't you camp in my yard?" asked the man standing in the doorway of his mobile home.
We gladly accepted the man's offer. After a few minutes of small talk, Zach and I set up camp in the front yard, just at the base of a small mountain, as the sun was already setting behind the hills to the west.