Despite the crappy road that winds along it, I love Lincoln Creek. It’s a place to camp without too many hassles. No nosy campground hosts, no fees, no creepy families eyeing your every move or complaining if you make noise past 9 p.m.
That said, last weekend was a little rough in one respect: the bugs. Specifically, mosquitoes. The last time I saw that many mosquitoes in one place was when I lived among the sugarcane fields of Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana, in the storm-filled summer of 2001. Seriously, the Colorado mosquitoes aren’t quite as bad as that, but it sure did seem like it for a couple of days.
The bloodsuckers have been thriving in the high country thanks to the wet conditions brought on by lots of winter snow and summer rain. I didn’t bring any insect repellent — doubted I would need it at 10,500 feet. Instead, I made smoky fires to keep them at bay, drank beer to numb myself to the pain and went about my chores at the campsite. I even fished along the banks of Grizzly Reservoir, with sporadic success, under constant attack. Usually there is a nice breeze in the high country that keeps the buggers away. Not this time.
Hitler’s blitzkrieg of Poland pales in comparison with what was going on with the flying insects and my legs. In a futile attempt to keep my mind off the pesky critters, I sat as close as I could to the campfire, pounded Coors Light cans and focused on a few of the issues that have been swirling inside my brain over the past few weeks, such as:
• When did the Aspen area become a mini version of Dallas-Fort Worth? With its newfound corporate attitudes, continued emphasis on all things real estate, three homicides in less than five months, extreme heat (the 80s here feel like 90s) — I could go on and on. We aren’t the cool, laid-back, funky mountain resort we were when I first became acquainted with the town a decade ago. I love Aspen, but the longer I’m here, the more it feels like the D/FW Metroplex. One day last week I circled City Market five times before I found a place to park, and even then, it was an illegal spot, subject to towing.
• Why can’t I catch a trout around here that’s longer than 10 inches? Do they get any bigger, or does U.S. Fish and Wildlife only stock dwarf fish in the mountain reservoirs? If I told my South Louisiana buddies about the size and frequency of my catches, they would laugh and laugh and laugh. And then they would wonder why I even try.
• Where has the time gone? The last 10 months have gone by way too fast. Since my birthday month in October, too much has happened. I’ve covered the RFTA bus accident (with injuries), a fatal small-jet crash, a murder investigation, a sexual-assault trial: one thing after another. I’m not complaining about having real news to write about — for years, I attended those mind-numbing Aspen City Council work sessions — but I feel as though the weeks are going by without any real “living.” It seems I just go through the motions of work, sleep, work, sleep, work. My days off are spent catching up on sleep because of the job and its related stress.
Is this what they call the Aspen dream? Because lately when I dream, I dream about the workplace. I’m walking through an eerily lit courthouse or chasing down Mick Ireland or Joe DiSalvo for a quote.
Enough thinking out loud. Besides, I have some real work to do and several mosquito bites to address.