Rocky Mountain High
Alec WeaverJune 13, 2012 1:15 PM EDT
Buy the ticket, take the ride
It's easy to talk, talk is cheap. It is with this thought in mind that I will begin to tell you the tale of two men's quest to do something that they have talked about for a long time. My father and I have always had crazy, wild ideas, but rarely have we ever acted upon them. More often than not, they have been fleeting fantasies that never see any sort of fruition. I'm sure that my friends can attest to this trait in me at least. If asked, they would more than likely tell you how exasperating it can be listening to me come up with crazy schemes and trips, often times laced with a healthy dose of quotes from Kerouac, Ginsburg, Burroughs, and Thompson (and perhaps a smattering of Whitman as well). Last Sunday however, the talk wasn't enough. Earlier in the week my father and I had discussed, as we call it, "getting crazy". We tossed around ideas and schemes all with the underlying theme of driving to Colorado to drink a single cup of coffee in the shadow of the Rockies and driving back all in the same day. We hemmed and hawed until Saturday afternoon, at which point my father grew silent. Now, if you have had any sort of experience with my father, you would know that he is not one to stop talking, and his silence means that he is in deep thought. After rising from the dinner table and walking back to him and my mother's room, he emerged in flannel pajama pants and told me to get some sleep because we were leaving four hours from then, at 12:00 AM Sunday morning.
Whither goest thou, America, in thy shiny car in the night?
With good music in the CD deck, we set out into the night in search of what we would soon discover as the best cup of java that either of us has ever had. As we drove in the pitch black Kansas plains, moonlight reflected off of immense grain silos and made them look as if they were some sort of esoteric temples to agriculture. We talked about anything and everything. Nothing was left untouched—life, death, and the nature of God. As we crested a hill, the guitar riff to "Comfortably Numb" came across the speakers and as David Gilmore wound his guitar into a haunting wail, we glimpsed the authoritarian lights shining down upon the helicopters of Fort Riley. After gaping in awe at the perfect timing of this event, we drove a while longer until another mystery presented itself to us. Outside in the cold distance we noticed a handful of red lights, no more than four or five, blinking in unison. While we were straining in the dark to see what structure these lights belong to, Jimi Hendrix's cover of "All Along the Watchtower" started its heavy drum beat. And as Jimi began to shred, we crested yet another hill and gazed upon hundreds of these lights all blinking in unison as if they belonged to some massive, extraterrestrial mother ship.
Just ahead, over the rolling wheat fields all golden beneath the distant snows of Estes, I'd be seeing old Denver at last. I pictured myself in a Denver bar that night, with all the gang, and in their eyes I would be strange and ragged like the Prophet who has walked across the land to bring the dark Word, and the only Word I had was "Wow!"
The sun was rising to our backs, painting the morning landscape in a beautiful, pastel haze. Arriving at the Colorado border, we realized that we needed to make a decision as to where we should get our cup of Joe. Though the miracle of technology, I was able to find what was hailed as the best coffee in Denver and it was in the direction of this humble watering hole that we decided to position our vessel. Booming into Denver, we quickly found Pablo's Coffee. We had arrived, but our mission was yet complete. Pablo's coffee is positioned on 6th Avenue in a neighborhood in Denver that is reminiscent of the Westport district in KCMO. Upon entering the actual establishment, one might find themselves wondering if they stumbled down the rabbit hole into some carroll-esqe novel. The ceiling was a checkerboard of black-and-white, while the walls were dotted with the artwork of a local surrealist, while the nook in the back of the café is covered with a peeling red and gold arabesque wallpaper and is home to saggy, comfortable couches. After paying no heed to the baristas recommendations, my father and I decided to get lattes. And let me tell you my friends, they were worth the 1100 miles that we drove to get them. They were silky and bold without being too bitter or overpowering. The help was also phenomenal; after hearing about our trek, they gave us free beans and free cups of French-press that needed no sugar or cream: it was that good. Our new barista friends were impressed with our journey and despite being one of the top ten coffee places in the nation according to Zagat's, they were super humble and laid back. Shandon, Jason, and Rebecca, if by some fluke you happen to stumble upon this entry and are reading my words, keep it up. You're doing God's work.
He left yesterday behind him, you might say he was born again,
you might say he found a key for every door
We left Pablo's after visiting for about an hour and decided to get back on the road to our home. At this point, nothing is really worth recalling. Still jazzed on java, my father drove across the high plains with astounding speed and we ended up making it back to Top-city before the sun set on one of the greatest adventures that either of us would ever have.