Nathan's mom laughed when I told her the story of how the rental car lady compared Telluride to heaven. Apparently, the name Telluride is a shortened version of the phrase "To hell you ride!" Back in the olden days, Telluride was known for being full of hellions (i.e. bandits, thieves, shady people) on top of being quite difficult to get to. Hence the not-so-heavenly saying they called out to wayward travelers making their way to town.
As I made my way to meet up with my friend Emma for the Telluride Bluegrass Festival, I soon found out that perhaps there is something to Telluride’s name. First, I discovered that the cell/wi-fi tower was down, leaving me with no way to reach Emma (and celebrate her birthday with her). Then I was denied entry into the campsite because I didn’t have my festival pass. In an attempt to retrieve said pass, I found out that it had already been used!
No campsite, no concert, no friends.
Faced with feeling sorry for myself, getting angry, or treating myself to some libations, I chose the latter. This led me to the historical New Sheridan Hotel, where a bluegrass band from Oakland, California (an anomaly if I've ever heard one) was playing. And despite my initial skepticism, they were very good! Later that night, I was fortunate to have made friends with a bunch of people from Dallas who spared me uncomfortable lodgings in my car rental.
Thankfully, the cell/wi-fi signals returned the next day, and Emma and I were united (and I was able to wish her a happy belated birthday). After some intense ticket troubleshooting and printing at the public library, all seemed right in the world once again and we headed to the main concert venue.
(photo by Emma McCleavey)
For the next three days, a myriad of bands performed on the main stage and free stage surrounded by nothing less than blissful scenery. Non-stop music, sunbathing, star-gazing, lounging, fresh brews, margaritas, Moscow Mules, chicken sandwiches, burritos, lovely conversation, silly conversation, and river dipping tied the days together.
(photo by Emma McCleavey)
Standout moment of the festival? Emma's friend, Mikey, who hasn’t missed the festival for the past five years, won a free pair of custom made skis for participating in the car pool raffle! I've never seen any individual so excited in my entire life!
Standout performances for me were The 'Lil Smokies, Sara Watkins, and Pokey LaFarge. The 'Lil Smokies played a set worthy of any traditional Bluegrass aficionado's praise. Not to mention it’s a tradition that their fans hurl marshmallows when they perform. Sara Watkins' vocals whispered the crowd into a calm. And Pokey LaFarge really knew how to keep the audience on its toes, borrowing musical nodes from genres like Rockabilly all the way to 80's pop.
Amidst all of this, I even managed to go on a run up to Bridal Veil Falls (I figured after my crash course with altitude poisoning in Aspen, I'd be okay). It was gorgeous. Someone even has a pretty little piece of real estate right atop the fall (though it must be a pain in the you-know-what for the owners to go on grocery runs).
As much as I hate to admit it, I thank you, rental car lady, for making me take the sports utility vehicle for the following reasons:
1) I was able to transport Mikey's skis since they did not fit comfortably in any other vehicle.
2) We were able to stop for breakfast at Kate's Place in the quaint town of Ridgeway where the official Grammys are made (yes, those gold phonograph trophy thingies are made right outside of Telluride).
3) We may or may not have encountered some torrential rain and a landslide detour on our way to Denver. Despite the terrifying and simultaneously awe-inspiring lightning and thunder, we managed to make it back safe and sound and in good spirits.
After dropping off Emma and her friends, I hit the gas and steered toward Boulder (more specifically, Longmont) to make it in time to a summer solstice dinner held by my friend Chaz and her husband Clayton Cole.
Stay tuned for Part 3: Boulder!