Writers On The Storm
We landed at Denver International Airport--deeply loved by conspiracy theorists (there's a vast underground military city under the terminals, and if you know how to program the elevators, they take you hundreds of feet below the high plains). We rented a Jeep Something-Or-Other in case of snow, and turned on our Magellan navigation robot. We didn't need it. After all, Colorado is my adopted motherland, and Steamboat Springs isn't that hard to find. Still, the girls christened the weird talking box Julie Magellan, and we inanely thanked her for her various bits of advice as we drove to I-70. She seemed to get a bit crabby with us when we ignored her to stop and eat lunch, and often pouted when we passed her recommended turn-offs by saying "recalibrating route" and only suggesting you bastards. Sometimes Julie went for broke and ordered: "As soon as possible, make a legal U-turn."

And up into the Holy Rockies. Holiness without religion. ("Religion," of course, coming from the old Latin roots for tying you down.) Oh, well, I was seeing God everywhere. Holiness was plentiful, right from the Book of Luis in the Unauthorized Road Bible. All the markers of grace were evident for me: the shattered and shattering sky; the ragged peaks carved and highlighted by their diminished but not destroyed glaciers; the aspens burning down among stands of lodgepole pines like hot lava flows, all gold and orange; the black and white magpies taking off like elegant Holstein cows with teal lights in their feathers; the slim waterfall at Idaho Springs; the tumult of Clear Creek; the massive ravens leading us down the two-lanes with wingspans as wide as the Jeep; the rainbows; the plunge into tunnels; the welcome appearance of the mighty Colorado River, still a toddler here as it sneaks out of Granby and starts its enviable epic sojourn toward the Gulf of California.

Steamboat: perfect. It's your dream of what a high Rocky town should be. Even with the Aspenization of the good place by mincing prancing tight-assed billionaires with their ten wheel drive Hummer Molochs and their $22,000,000 1.5 acre cedar chalet homesteads. Kiss my ass, you bimbos in pink cowboys hats! Jump in the Yampa river and freeze, you razor-cut tanning booth chem-peeled playboys! There are enough real cowboys and book loving women, mountain men and hilarious grandmas left in town to give it real soul. Even among the Asian-fusion bistros, there are still buffalo burgers and horses and some good old trucks. Save Steamboat! (There are also naked hippies in the hot springs.)

Good shopping, OK? Megan was not in the mood to shop, but I was. Cindy got some funky high mountain sweaters. Chayo sat on fiberglass horses. I bought baseball caps and books. When don't I buy books? (A grandma who told Cindy she'd like to borrow her necklace for a wedding next week came out of the shop and told Chayo, perched atop the plastic giant filly she named "Pie," You better throw a rope on 'er and tie 'er to that tree!)

We were at the Steamboat Literary Sojourn. I'd been recommended by my pal and fellow Led Zeppelin idiot, Stewart O'Nan. They put us up in a two bedroom condo at the Torian Plum resort. Of course, we loved the condo and immediately decided to buy one and stay in Steamboat sipping mulled cider and learning to ski. However, we found out the condos there cost $995,000. Never mind.

The writers with us were Frank Delaney, Michael Kun, Amanda Ward, and the super-duper-star, Jane Hamilton. All of them were a riot. We had so much fun, it's hard to describe it. At the actual Sojourn event, 500 people ate a fine lunch and sat at their tables while we did out trained monkey routine. I laughed all day which, believe me, is a rare treat at a big festival like that.

Book lovers are going to ask me forever what Jane is like. She's drop-dead funny. When I came offstage after my talk, she took my hand and said, sincerely, "I want to have your children." Later, she borrowed a pen from Cinmderella, and we lost track of each other and didn't get the pen back. It was our Cunard pen we'd stolen from the QEII. But, you know, chalk it up to signing autographs. However, the next morning, there was the pen at our front door with a note from Jane apologizing for absconding with it. That one goes in the scrapbook. So that's what Jane is like.

She also flashed her booty at us, but that, perhaps, is better saved for another day.

I think all of us came away feeling like friends.

Snow came in, and the ski runs began to appear as if by magic. White scars etched in the hillsides that looked perfectly ghastly to me, but were lovely to the businesses along the street: here comes money. Here comes tourism. We had breakfast in the Village Inn, and I did a long interview with High Country News.

And I can't really say much about what happened on stage with the audience. It was holy, though. Something wonderful happened. Made me want to light a candle.

We drove back down out of the snow clouds. Oh, heaven has nothing that could wrench my heart away from those beaver ponds and deep gold cottonwoods.

The good ol' mountains were flicking the aspen leaves off with the snowy wind. Leaves like gold coins tumbled on the roads. Those mountains busy making new soil for themselves. Winter's compost heap getting settled.

We were chased by rain all the way to our dear friends Tony and Pam's rancho in Castle Rock. It was all donkeys, highland bulls, turkeys, barn cats, big dogs and chickens. Chayo rode Bliss the donkey down the country road. Megan and Chayo and I herded cattle. How can you leave? How can you leave that? Edward Abbey's Cadillac in the garage, no less. How do you go back to the flatlands? But you must.

And we did.

Home again. To astounding movie news that is embargoed for a little longer. I can't tell yet. But I will.

Light candles. Give praise. The world is all thanks and grace on every side of us. The medicine is great. And that storm we abandoned in Colorado has followed us loyally, like one of the big red bulls I brush in Tony's pasture. It has made its way across Nebraska and Iowa. And now it's out there, beyond our treeline, sniffing and whistling and bringing that blessed cool air to our bed.

Let it rain.


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