Friday, February 25, 2011

By the Power of Greyrock, I Defeated Vampires

"I think the bartender is a vampire," I said.

Chris looked thoughtful.  "What makes you say that?"

"Well," I said, "First of all, he's really pale.  And really muscular."

"Yeah, I noticed that.  He probably works out," he said, "Are vampires muscular?" 

"I would be if I were a vampire," I said.  "What else do you have to do?  Drink blood?  Lame!  And sure, they have superhuman strength, but compared to other vampires, they wouldn't be that strong, so they better work out."

"I've never figured out how that worked for the undead," he said.

"I think I read that in a book somewhere."

We stopped talking for a moment and I watched the vampire.

We were in Gillian's Lounge, which was as likely a place for a vampire as anywhere in Fort Collins.  It was nominally the lounge for the Armstrong Hotel, but the entrance was outside, between the hotel and a place called "Brand Spanking Used".  Brand Spanking Used was some kind of thrift store with a circular logo made it look like the it was actually called "Brand Used Spanking", which sounded like some kind of fetish club or something.

Anyway, to get inside, you walked down a narrow staircase between the two buildings.  The door at the bottom that was the obvious entrance was unlocked, but if you looked inside, there was a bunch of broken cement and an orange and white sawhorse with a sign pointing left,  "Gillian's that way".  My guess is that this is where the workers originally unearthed the vampires that the Freemasons had walled up down there a century ago.

So you find the entrance, and you are in the basement of the Armstrong.  Turn right, and there's the lounge.

It was dark.  Like, really dark.  There were little lights sprinkled across the ceiling and a some hanging lights, but they were all turned down too low to allow sight.  Behind the bar, three slabs of stone were backlit, casting a pale green light.  Green light is creepy.

And then the patrons.  They talked in muted tones, and they all stopped to look at us as we walked in.

"Welcome," said the bartender-that-I-later-decided-was-a-vampire, "Sit where you want."  He was wearing all black, with short sleeves that showed off his veiny pale biceps.  He also had a strange short hair pony tail that fell to his shoulder in a single banana curl spiral.

The bar was full, but the booths and tables were empty.  We sat behind the bar, next to a piano with a cover on it.  I guess this must be a real lounge sometimes.

We ordered really expensive martinis and that's when I told Chris I thought the bartender was a vampire.

"Do you think they're all vampires?" Chris asked.

"Oh... or at least some of them," I said, "and they're drawing people in so they can feast on our blood."

"Yeah," he said, "They could be vampires.  I mean, this place is underground, it's not like there would ever be any light."

I turned to him.  "You're not a vampire, are you?"

"Um," he said, "We were outside in the sun today.  Did I sparkle?"

"I guess not," I said. "And you didn't burst into flames, either."

"Maybe," he said, "They're just scoping people out who are staying at the hotel, here.  Does the hotel room protect against vampires?"

"Good question."

We discussed this for a while, and the bartender/vampire brought us a second round.  We eventually agreed that since the hotel was basically providing a contract for a temporary home, the threshold rule should work to keep vampires out.  Maybe.

More people came in, until it seemed like the place was doing pretty good business.  A child with two adults came in, and we both looked at eachother.  "Child vampire?" we said in unison.

We eventually ate our chocolate mousse and finished our drinks, and headed up to our hotel room for the night.

We were not eaten.

The following day, which was Monday, was also President's Day.  This was awesome, because I didn't have to go to work.  Instead, we decided to go for a hike.

The day before, we had tried to hike, but failed.  It might have had something to do with the 20 mile bike ride (with stops for drinks) that we did on Saturday.  It was hard.

We went back to the same place we'd tried to hike on Sunday as it was only a few miles up the Poudre from where we were.

"We should go the other way," I said.  There were two trails to Greyrock, one called the Summit Trail, the other called The Meadows.  I knew that the Meadows Trail was longer, so I assumed that it would also be less steep.

I was wrong.

But I felt pretty strong, even after a night of drinking.  The air was crisp and cold, so perfect for hiking.

At first, I thought we would only go a mile or two, eat lunch, and go home.  But as we hiked, I realized that I should be grateful that I was not a vampire, that I had not been eaten by some horrifying child vampire in a basement lounge, and I should live my life.

So we kept walking.

It took some doing, but we finally started seeing the landscape around us.
At first, we were surrounded by trees and hills, but after a little while, it opened up, and we could see the land around us.

For those of you that have forgotten:  Colorado is a freaking desert.

I had only ever been here in the early summer, when everything is green.  On this day, everything was brittle and dry.

When we got to the alleged meadows, I realized we still had quite a ways to go to get to the top of Greyrock.  I felt my will falter.

"Chris," I said, "I think we should go to the top.  Because we should be thankful we weren't eaten by vampires."

Chris took a drink of water.  "Sounds good."

It didn't take long for the fabled destination to look a bit more like Mordor than a fairy land, or possibly a residence of the Bone Pickin' Monkey Man.  There was a fire a year or two ago.

I had actually been to the burnt area two years before, back when it was fresh.  But it seemed deader, now.

There have been quite a few people lost on Greyrock.  I couldn't understand how they did it until we got onto the actual rock.

There are signs and cairns all over the place, but we kept losing the path, and ended up on ledges to nowhere a couple times.  We wasted a good hour on a particularly stupid spot because there were tracks in the snow from all the other people who went the wrong way.

But we found the path eventually.

And we were completely alone on the rock.

It was still winter... way the hell over there.

We could see clouds on the distant horizon, and the snow covered peaks, but everything else was clear.  The wind was a bit annoying.  We were working hard enough that we didn't get cold, so it didn't matter that much.

The view from the top was phenomenal.   The wind also chose this moment to die down for now apparent reason.  That brown smudge on the horizon is Fort Collins.

We got to the top and looked around for a few minutes, and I realized that even though I am always heading for summits, I really don't like being on them.  Too much could go wrong, and we were a long way from home.

Now all we had to do was get back down.

The trip back was pretty quick compared to the walk there.  We went down the Summit path, and managed to not trip or twist any ankles, or otherwise expose ourselves to vampire attack even though we were both tired.

I'm pretty sure the vampires allowed me to live so that I could summit Greyrock.  I didn't expect to do it, and then there I was.

I was reminded why I love to hike. 

And Chris didn't sparkle all day.

So we totally won the hike.

More info on this trail can be found HERE.

No comments: