Vacation Time – August 1997 Part IV

I amble over to my favorite food market, King (“Queen”)Souper in my former Cap­itol Hill habitat. The parenthetical expression was stigmatized by the straights asan opprobrium directed at the high percentage of homosexuals who patronize theirneighborhood grocery. KingSoupercould not care less about the “branding”. In fact, I’ll bet you a sawbuck that management monitors their merchandise accordingly to the gay clientele.

I recall a similar situation at a Safeway store in the Marina Dis­trict of San Francisco, which has been one of my more commodious haunts on the WestCoast for many years….convenient overnight parking and an unequalled Bay Areaambience. There too, the patronage is well-mixedas to sexual preferences.  My pointis that wherever there is a gay community, youwill not be wanting for a four-starrestaurant or grocery mart catering to the genuine gastronome. I’m not stereotyping a certain group, but trying to emphasize the appreciation of the gay society for the fine art of living, especially in the epicurean sense.

Yes, I do eat to live (the opposite of cuz John), but I do recognize a superb Deli Section when I see one. That’s why I hang out at Queen Souper. I drive a few blocks to Cheeseman Park where I can enjoy one of this city’s more pleasurable urban green areas. I do wind sprints barefooted in the soft, deep winter rye grass; rifle-arm the boomerang in soaring,horseshoe arcs; swat high flyballs to imaginary outfielders; and generally just watchpeople…their trappings, companions, vehicles, whatever. A long-haired young womanattired in a haltertop and tight cut-offs emerges from hercar and as she is opening the trunk, I notice the slim buttocks and muscular thighs…oops, she’s a guy. Well, that’s Capitol Hill.

Then there’s this couple with a tethered rodent canine, yappingand yelping at a leashed Great Dane passing by. Oh, how I wish that rat-dog’s ropewould have broken loose.Then, who would have the last yap? Next was a burly, crew-cut redneck who stopped curbside to use the Port-a-Can just across the street. Hismodus transportatus was something to behold – a Dooley Supercab (a pickup with a four-wheel rear axle) withallthe external lighting accoutrements available) plus a super-absorbing ram-guard front bumper that would put a state trooper’s pursuit car to shame.To top it all off, the front wheels are adorned with Ben-Hur-chariot-style-spoke-shredders. Can you believe that contraption? Wow, I’d sure hate to confront him in a roadrage. I notice bikers on the circularartery around the park, and I sorely miss myrestored 12-speed velocipede left behind in Dallas. Oh, how I lovedto bikein Denver.

I retire for the night in Queen Souper’s auxiliary parking lot – safe, legal and level. The next day, I’m off to Boulder to see another ex-RNL employee, Jim Toohey.I’ve called ahead without an answer, but no matter…it’s on the way to the Rockie sanyway. I find their house, and in a spontaneous splurge of skullduggery, I plaster their front door and rear window of their auto with Cowboydecals (the star-studdedhelmet profile). I’m laughing all the way to Lyons, like, who would they suspect to perpetrate such a dastardly deed? I hook a left at Lyons on Colorado Hwy 7 and twist my way up the canyon parallel to St. Vrain Creek in search of my erstwhile campsite of a year or so ago.

I remember the spot being on the left, but more importantly, the locale is at 7,000 feet, making the site appreciably cooler than those I pass at five and six thousand feet elevation. The practicality of my dash-mounted altimeter is mind-boggling when I recall the many times it has rescued me from a thermal night.Sure enoughas the trusty dial reached the 7,000mark, there was the familiar pull-off. The site was unoccupied, thank goodness. That’s always an anxious moment. There turn to paradise is slightly marred by aluminum and glass remnants of a former inconsiderate habitué. Fortunately, I have anticipated this all too common malevolent abuseof nature by stocking up on plastic bags. After the campsite clean-up, I barefoot it over to the sandbar and dip my toes into the cold creek. What an invigorating sensa­tion … my whole body is revived. A fueled fire, a cascading creek, and a mounted moon…it just doesn’t get any better than this!

Dinner is composed of roastin’ wieners on a wire. The ultimate end to a perfect day is laying in bed, looking upthrough the skylight at a cathedral of pines silhouetted by a zillion stars. I softlyutter my nightly invocation: “Thank you lord for getting me here safely tonight”. After three days and three nights, I vacate this idyllic place. I head due east to Longmont and I-25 on state Hwy 66. It’s a pleasurable drive until I have to negotiatethe interstate north to Cheyenne.

The traffic is extremely heavy, but running smoothly.As I am accustomed to cruising along in the right-hand lane between55 and 60 mph withthe window down, I’ve acclimated myself to road noise. But on this particular stretch there was a deafening roar of rubber on concrete, an ebbing incessant flow of semi’s and SUV’s hauling motorboats and belch fires, all seemingly on a harried azimuthal projection from somewhere to somewhere else. I guess I’m experiencing a geographical shock…from the stillness of St. Vrain to the noise pollution of the nondescript. Miraculously, a rest area rescues me from the doldrums of this drive. I pull off andpark next to a ragtag sedan with Iowa plates.

Theindigent pair are trying to catch aroadside nap…she’s in the back, he’s in the front. The interior is littered with junk food wrappers and soda pop cans. No clothes are hanging, so I guess all their wearing apparel is stashed in the trunk. I wonder how far they’ve come without an affordable motel room. Suddenly, as I’m looking down at this impoverished couple from the comfortable vantage of my van, I feel so fortunate in having such a commodious modus operandi…the ironies of financial disparities right in front of my eyes.

Well, heck, I laid down hard-earned cash for a metal box on wheels just so I could design an interior to accommodate my needs (especially a bed) for traversing the good ol ’U. S. of A. (circa 1981). But still, I’m remembering all the rest areas and truck stops where I’ve seen so many times the modern-day version of “The Grapes of Wrath”… the station wagons and pickups and U-Haul trailers loaded to the gills withall their earthy possessions, moving on down the road in pursuit of a better life.I can empathize with these people, having done the same backin 1978 (the voyagethat ended in Denver). Oh yeah, I had a spare tire bungi-corded on top of the old’65 Chevy van, plus everything I owned inside those cramped quarters. With about 3,000 dollars to my name, I considered myself pretty lucky at the time.