The traveler’s—my—final night in Colorado: loving this tiny mountain village, high among the soaring 14-thousand-foot peaks of the Rockies, and sensing that with one more day he could get an enormous amount of writing done, he extends his stay.
Changes the return flight, asks to keep his roadhouse room for another night. Works all morning and through the middle of the day, blessedly free of the chaos back home, the remodel, the noise. Midafternoon, he goes for a hike among the changing aspen trees, their color burning several shades of green-gold. Rain comes down cold and hard; the conversation’s good: The owner of the tavern has come along as a guide, a new acquaintance. Descending the mountain, they stop at the home of the tavern keeper’s friend—step over to the friend’s elegant new tepee and build a fire, drink tea, and warm the feet.
Then, in the cold of the coming dusk, and the still-falling rain, it’s an easy walk into the village again. A hot shower, a little more work, and into the Nordic Lodge for a third dinner there. The first night, when the place was a surprise, local lamb paired well with Woody Creek Sangiovese, from over the mountain. The second night, the elk steak was a good fit for the Woody Creek Cabernet Sauvignon, and so, tonight, it’s the bison steak with the Woody Creek Merlot. A glass of the Verso Cabernet Sauvignon, too—a strikingly unusual Colorado Cabernet, not at all tannic, light and bright in the fruit, with an almost nectarinelike quality. But Woody Creek is a good, clean wine, balanced and honest and with the rain pouring now from the mountains and the night black beyond the tavern windows and a great conversation under way—the tavern owner, his friend from the mountain, a retired Chicago cop we’ve just met—the traveler’s thinking that this is one of the great reasons to nurture a love of wine and food, to remain open to local wine, to give yourself the chance to have a truly local and interesting experience, in the most unlikely of places.