When we awoke the next morning, we walked outside to find a crisp and refreshing mountain breeze ready to greet us. The views were just as spectacular in the early rays of daylight as they were in the vanishing sunset of dusk. We decided to make our way into Guffey to explore the town a little bit.
We knew ahead of time that Guffey was small– a population of 300. Those descriptions were accurate. A few businesses, a few bars, a few houses, and that was it. Everything was closed.
“It’s Monday,” a local told us, “the coffee shop is closed. Tomorrow’s Tuesday. Probably be closed then, too. Hey, want a soda?”
We took him up on his offer, and used the wireless internet signal from the closed coffee shop to catch up on life outside of the Guffey Bubble for a few minutes. The offer of a soda highlighted another point that I continually noticed throughout the duration of our journey: the kindness of strangers was both unending and abundant. A warm smile and some friendly words can go a long way when you’re a thousand miles from home– especially when they are backed by a carbonated beverage. We met many people on this trip who thought nothing of offering a hand, an ear, a drink, a place to sleep, a home-cooked meal, a firm handshake, a compliment, and countless other gestures of kindness.
Times may be tough for a lot of people, but the human spirit remains strong. Don’t confuse what I’m about to say with some political statement– these days it seems that politics exist mostly as a vehicle for dissension– I’m right / you’re wrong / I won’t listen to why you disagree / that’s it / enjoy living life as someone who is wrong / I don’t feel bad about you being wrong either, since I’m enjoying being right. The days of thoughtful debate and learning from opposing viewpoints seem to be long gone… at least that’s what the guy delivering the news tells me, along with the guy on the radio and the guy working at the paper.
You know what I noticed, though? THEY’RE the ones who are wrong. This country is pouring over at the brim with people who love, who laugh, who sincerely want to learn something from someone new EVERY DAY. Harmony doesn’t sell papers, or increase ratings, it seems. We met scores of people who couldn’t have been more alike, and then couldn’t have been more different than we were. This may be a shock for some people to read, but– WE ALL GOT ALONG. I loved it. I completely loved every minute of it. So, don’t believe anyone who tells you that this country is being torn apart at its seams over the issues at hand– it’s simply not true. People are stepping up their levels of love for (and friendship towards) their fellow man, just to combat the otherwise negative forecasts that claim we’re all going to hell in a hand basket. I always thought that might be the case out there, away from the negativity that is constantly shoved into our faces, and looking back on this trip, I was ecstatic to learn that it was true- love and friendship really is going to come out on top.
*author’s note: not to blow my own horn, but I don’t know of many people doing as much field research on this subject that I’ve (albeit unintentionally) been doing… so I feel pretty confident in my statements. It’s not about anything other than working/living/breathing together– and we’re doing a damned good job of it, as a country, in the face of a lot of tough breaks.
So anyway, we got a soda from a guy, and enjoyed our conversation with him in a mostly-closed-because-it-was-monday-and-will-probably-be-mostly-closed-tuesday Guffey, Colorado.
With Guffey sleepily ignoring our arrival, we decided to drive 30 minutes to Cripple Creek, Colorado. I didn’t know much about Cripple Creek, other than that it’s mentioned in a song by The Band. Needless to say, I was pretty shocked when we pulled into town. Once upon a time, when the mines in Colorado were yielding healthy amounts of precious metals, prospectors would come to Cripple Creek, bounty in tow, to exchange their cold, hard ores for cold, hard cash. And where to spend that cash? Oh, perhaps in one of the 20 or so Saloons and Casinos that lined the main thoroughfare of old downtown Cripple Creek.
And today– it’s exactly the same. Casinos behind every door– a mini vegas minus the outrageous electric bill and Carrot Top. I’m not a huge fan of Vegas, but Cripple Creek– well, if I’m going to gamble, that’s where I’d like to be doing it. It was modern, sure, but it hasn’t lost it’s mining town feel. We all won a little money and enjoyed walking the hilly streets of this slice of yesteryear. Knowing to quit whilst we were ahead, we decided to head back to our little cabin in Guffey to enjoy a beautiful afternoon before our show.
When we pulled back into Guffey Proper for the gig, the formerly sleepy town was anything but. We were playing the grand opening of the towns newest bar and restaurant, The Bull Moose, and it seemed that the entire county was on hand to celebrate. We set up on the outdoor stage, ate a killer meal, and met a bunch of great people. The show went on into nightfall, and after we wrapped it up, we shared conversations and drinks with the people who inhabit this little nook of the world. It was wonderful. Guffey was truly excited that two dudes from Texas would travel all that way, off the beaten path, to help them celebrate the Bull Moose’s opening, and we were just as excited that they wanted to have us.
Back at the cabin, we again listened to the sounds of the Colorado mountains, wrapped in the peaceful blanket of night. In the morning we’d be leaving the mountains behind, bound for the big city of Denver. For now, though, there wasn’t any other place worth being. It was just us and the mountains, and the knowledge that this job– for all of its ups and downs– was our good fortune to labor in.