Fun with Friends on the Front Range...
The last several days have been the most fun of the trip so far. I've been able to see and stay with friends in the Boulder and Fort Collins area. In a couple of cases, I got to see people I hadn't seen in more than 15 years. Having this opportunity, I took advantage of it and stayed two nights in Boulder and two nights in Fort Collins. It was great to catch up with folks and relax.
In Boulder, there are two couples that I've met through the Blue Marble bike trips I've done in Europe over the years. Stuart and Deb went on a trip with our cycling 'pod' through the Cevennes region of France. They invited me over to their house for a wonderful dinner with lots of laughter and a few interuptions from a very persistent young man looking for donations to his cause. (Stu, did you get that form filled out, yet?)
Mike and Megan have been on a few trips with our cycling group. They were brave enough to invite me to stay at their cottage in Chautauqua Park, right at the base of the Flatirons. I say 'brave enough' because having been there, I will now be bugging them incessantly to host our next Blue Marble pod get-together. The location and their home are spectacular! Stepping right out their front door, there are miles of hiking trails and great cycling routes. In addition, there's Boulder's great restaurants and cafes, a big Saturday morning farmer's market and the buzz of the University of Colorado.
Speaking of the college student 'buzz', We did something Saturday night that I haven't done in over 20 years. I went to a college keg party! After dinner in a great French brasserie, Mike, Megan, and their friend Brian (who I'd also met on a Blue Marble trip years ago) took me to visit Brian's son and daughter, who just happened to be hosting a party at their apartment. All the requisite keg party must-do's were checked off the list - plastic cup of Pabst Blue Ribbon - check, beer pong - check, shots of Jack Daniels - check, and watermelon 'marinated' in vodka - check. They were really a great bunch of kids who were happy to chat with us old folks. Our stay at the party was short, but memorable!
Sunday morning I met my personal bike tour guide, Melannie Hartman. We went to college together and Mel's brother, John, was my roommate and good friend. John is planning to bike with me later in this trip and Mel wanted to get in on the action. The timing of my trip worked out that she could ride with me from Boulder to Fort Collins, where she lives. Having Melannie as a guide was great as she kept me off all the busy highways that I would have picked if doing my own route planning. Plus, we took a much more scenic route where I got to see buffalo, beautiful ranch houses, and mountain reservoirs. She also made me dinner, gave me a tour of some of Fort Collins' prettier sights and this morning, she guided me out of town before heading off to work.
While in Fort Collins, I also had a chance to have lunch with Mark Rives, a former co-worker at Medtronic that I hadn't seen in 15 years. It was nice to catch up on career paths over the years and I always enjoy listening to Mark's Mississippi accent!
All-in-all, the last four days have been the best of the trip. It's a little sad to be heading out onto the road alone again, but over the next few weeks, I'll get to visit my old college town, stay a few days in my home town with my brother and see my youngest niece get married. So, there's plenty to look forward to!