Far from California

Again, the business traveler, alone and on the road, though admittedly the work is not so bad: sleeping in a little roadhouse, beside a quiet Colorado two-laner high in the Rockies. The Twin Lakes Roadhouse, to be precise, in Twin Lakes, Colorado, a little more than 35 miles east of Aspen. Hiking for a few hours with a man I have to write about, and then waving goodbye to him as he continues on his way, and turning around and heading back down that big mountain toward Twin Lakes again. Trying to shortcut across the shores of the large lake there, on a more direct route to town—visible in the distance, picturesque and small, a western village—and ending up in a swampy maze of willows and branch creeks. But that, too, is fine: The unexpected keeps us young, keeps life fresh. And then it’s back to the roadhouse for a shower and a few hours’ work at the computer, alone in the room. Until, finally, a short walk next door for dinner at the Nordic Lodge. It’s one of those places that sneak up on you: looks sort of cute at first, but grows more interesting inside.

Eating there the night before, I’d been half-stunned to find myself dining on local lamb and a wine from Woody Creek Cellars, just across the Rockies. And this with nobody around but a few odd locals. But a little more data has emerged: The owner is a former Texas state assemblyman from Austin. A buddy of his, an Austin city councilman, is up for a couple of weeks. Together they’ve planned a long jam session with a bunch of other old friends, all due over the next several days. Among those friends? A few members of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, I’m told, and because I love the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, I’m now feeling that I’ve stumbled onto something, some little nectar spot in the world. And so tonight, on my second peaceful night as the business traveler, at large in the world, I’m having the local elk steak, medium rare, with the Woody Creek Cabernet Sauvignon, and it’s a bigger and better wine than the Sangiovese—not a monster, like a California Cab, but more interesting for that reason, more local, more meaningful to me. More conducive to the quiet sleep I know I’ll have tonight, in this far-off place, so distant from my own home.

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