I have a dear friend in Ohio, named Janet. This is not about her, however, it’s about her brother, Lew. I’ve known Janet for pretty close to 30 years, and have known Lew long enough that I’ve forgotten exactly when I met him. Over the years, I usually saw him when he was on an Ohio stopover en route to or from his summer home in the high country of Colorado, or at the holidays. When we plotted this trip, we realized we were going to pass by Lew’s summer home in the high country of Colorado. A couple emails later and we made plans to connect.
We took Rt. 9 out of Silverton and headed north. Fluorescent red signs warned about construction delays, but the gal at the truck stop told us that “they usually knock off early on Fridays,” and that was the case. No workers anywhere to be seen. We passed a sign that blared “no pavement a mile ahead,” only to have miles of brand new asphalt to drive on. Finally the pavement did end a few miles away from our destination (this will be a theme later). There were enormous concrete structures that looked something like an overpass under construction here and there, and we wondered whatever for, since there didn’t appear to be any route. Later we learned it was part of a network of tunnels under and ramps over the road to accommodate Elk migration. The movement of the herds caused many injuries and deaths on the roadways, man and beast alike. Finally the pavement returned, and we rolled into the city of Kremmling, to the Red Mountain campground. Moments later, Lew pulled in next to us. We got set up and the next morning, headed up, up, up beyond the pavement bouncing up a mountain road to a cabin surrounded by aspen trees with a jaw-dropping view.
Lew is one of the more interesting people I’ve met. Veteran, pilot, college professor, jug band player, writer, dog lover, dude ranch cowboy—he’s taken a few turns in the road over life. We spent the last two days in his company, and it occurred to me that I spent more extended time actually talking to him than I had in all the years I’ve known him. It was a fun couple days.
We spent the time either hiking, eating, sharing stories or following behind his minivan as he zoomed to whatever sights he cared to show us. He can’t accommodate more than one extra rider. The back of the van is a conveyance for his enormous Irish Wolfhounds, Dugan and Fiona. They accompany Lew on every excursion long or short. Their huge heads hung out either side window, as they took in the breeze. I imagined the drag might have a detrimental effect on his gas mileage.
We started joking that we always knew when we were near whatever destination he’d chosen when the pavement ended. He flew along the dirt roads, and since Ben is a more conservative driver these days, we lagged behind and were glad there weren’t many directional options.
I mentioned earlier that Lew writes; he is a most entertaining storyteller. His stories are available at his website. Here’s the link. http://www.tcnj.edu/~hofmann/essays.htm