Notes From A Walkman Junkie: Bears, Mountain Turkeys And Voltron (Sort Of)
Well, I just got off the phone with my brother and he concluded our conversation by saying, “All right, go write one of your fancy stories” — so, I am doing just that. It has been an interesting and full week for me. I just returned from an eight day vacation where some friends and I stayed in a cabin in the lovely Colorado Mountains. My birthday happened to land in the middle of the trip and I received numerous missed (I was still asleep then my phone was off then I was battling ice-cold water in the shower with soap in my eyes and dealing with an unusually large spider) calls with messages of delightful birthday wishes and songs, including both the traditional “Happy Birthday” song and the less traditional version, “Happy Birthday, Dickhead.” We had decided to celebrate my birthday by taking a day trip to a small town in the mountains best known for its gold mines and casinos.
Our day started with a tour through one of the gold mines. My three friends and I put on the required hard hats and joined our guide, Merve (a hardcore third generation gold miner), in an incredibly small metal cage (an unnerving experience as I am scared of cramped spaces, cages, and Merve.) As we were shakily lowered one thousand feet down into the mine in pitch blackness, one of my friends leaned in toward me and whispered, “Happy birthday, we might die.” Once our little death cage touched ground, we all climbed out and Merve proceeded to take us through the mine, stopping periodically to explain (and loudly demonstrate) various equipment and tools while relaying tales of accidents, each one more horrifying and gruesome than the last. I was very uncomfortable with these stories, not only due to their morbidly unpleasant content, but also because of the way that Merve told them.
He spoke very quickly, running all of his words together in one long stream, and had a sort of tic (by “tic” I mean severe respiratory issues from years of inhaling copious amounts of dust) where he did a little cough after every three or four words. Also all of his yarns seemed to end with him saying something like, “You better believe if it were me in that accident and I found out who (the accidents were all generally caused by human error because they were using scary-ass, brutal tools in the fucking dark) was responsible, you would not want to be that particular individual when I got ahold of you.” So clearly, Merve was big on revenge which only heightened my concern that I may start to inappropriately laugh (I am prone to laughing fits when nervous, scared, uncomfortable, sleepy, drunk, confronted by authority figures and listening to Merve tell terrifying stories while trapped one thousand feet underground.)
I had done pretty well with holding it together thus far, but it was Merve’s final tale of woe involving himself that nearly got me. He rapidly and bluntly spurted out, “I was once (cough) trapped and buried (cough) under large rocks in a mine (cough) for sixteen hours (cough) now half my body is made of metal (cough) who wants to ride on the miner’s bike?” (cough.) Fortunately, I did not laugh at Merve, hence living to tell the story of the gold mine tour and enjoying the rest of my birthday adventure which consisted of the following: We played the slot machines (I won ninety quarters), saw a bear (I was advised that the best defense against a bear was to make yourself as large as possible — I pictured something like my three friends and I all joining together to form one giant being like Voltron), and went out for a lovely dinner (This was not easy because every place in this mountain town seemed to close very early — most likely because the locals all knew about something that we did not, like say the enormous mountain turkey that came out at night to feed on unsuspecting tourists.)
Eventually our trip drew to a close and I returned home to find one last (and highly anticipated) birthday bestowance. It was a card from my father that pictured a dog trotting down a winding path, with a quote by John Ronald Reuel that read, “All who wander are not lost.” My dad, in response, penned on the inside, “On the other hand, all who are lost are not wandering, plus they are not dogs so there. Happy birthday.”
I am attaching Low singing Back Home Again because though I had a wonderful vacation with my friends, it is always nice to be back home (and away from bears, Merve and deadly giant mountain turkeys.)