Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Road Trip: Fort Collins

We were almost at the mid-point of our trip, and it was time for a day of rest and relaxation. For myself, that meant walking around the small-town charms of Fort Collins, talking to local people and writing postcards in the sunshine; for Dave that meant over four hours trekking around a golf course, burning his head in altitude sunshine, but having fun.

He left early, and so I had a lazy start, writing in my journal and texting my girlfriend, before setting off in a taxi to Fort Collins; I had thought about walking, but realised after getting the scale right on the map that we were quite some way out of the city. The taxi driver was really friendly, and dropped me off near to the local tourism centre. They were also great, and gave me some pointers to where I should go - more than anything I needed stamps and postcards, as I had decided that that day was going to be one for writing to people, so my first stop was to find the local post office.

As I walked around and saw all the local businesses something started to occur to me, there was something about the area that was trying to grab my attention and I couldn't figure out what it was. And then there it was, really obvious: in the centre of Fort Collins there were no chain coffee shops or fast food places. There wasn't a Borders or even a Subway (which really are everywhere in the US), the city was bereft of chains.

I loved it. As much as I love a good Starbucks tea, it was brilliant to find one place on the trip that seemed to be untouched by the creeping horror of the 20th century. I stopped in several shops which sold art and jewellery made by local artisans and picked up quite a few pieces for family. After lunch and a call back to the UK I stopped off at an independent bookshop, Old Firehouse Books, where I bought some science fiction anthologies that would have cost me a lot more in the UK; I then went to the fabulous independent comic shop Hailley's Comics and had a good long chat with the owners (a middle-aged couple who had been high school sweethearts) an bought some comics as I was missing my weekly fix of comics.

The end of the day, after a lovely walk, was slightly weird, but also very good. The local tourist centre were really helpful in giving me details to call a taxi to take me back to the motel, but then the taxi never showed up. I waited for a long time, and had a really good long chat with Dave, a hot dog vendor, about travel and the world. As I walked away to try and rendezvous with Dave my travel companion I realised that I had not taken a single picture in Fort Collins, I had simply sat back and let the relaxation of the city-that's-a-small-town wash over me; walking down the small streets and residential roads to meet Dave I realised that I had found somewhere very special.

Both of us were very tired, and one of us was quite burned from playing golf in strong sunshine, so after a quick wander around a local mall and Walmart to pick up supplies we went back to the motel to relax. Both of us had had a great day off, each according to his own preference, but we would need our sleep.

The next day we would be starting another long five day drive, to the one place that we were both eager to reach: Las Vegas.


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