The Leadville area proved to be a great place to kick up my heels for a week, between the cool weather, the awesome
skinny-dipping hiking options, and lots of peace and quiet that allowed me to get a good chunk of work done for the cats back in LA. But alas, even with views like this...
...eventually a change of scenery compels this nomad to roll, which is precisely what happened this morning. And it all started so innocently.
Ouray Mark of Box Canyon Blog fame had suggested a stopover in "the pompous seat of conspicuous consumption" (what he calls Aspen) as grounds for "a nice contrast story," and since that general direction looked like it would pass through more spectacular scenery, I bit. Something tells me ol' Mark would've gotten a big laugh out of seeing me quite literally roar into this bourgeois stronghold late this afternoon – without a muffler on the van. There are, no doubt, many towns out there where a guy can safely drive a 25 year old van down main street without attracting attention, and Aspen is not one of them. But I'm getting a little bit ahead of myself now.
I suppose it was really only a matter of time before the above happened – what with all this pushing of envelopes in the form of one questionable forest road after another. In my overly zealous attempt to secure a riverside spot for a scenic rest from driving this afternoon, well, I got stuck. Better yet – in the process of getting stuck, I backed my muffler into a mound, snapping both of the clamps that hold the muffler in place. And of course, I was in the middle of nowhere with nary a wisp of cell signal.
And yet, I was remarkably calm throughout this turn of events. After all, I was home, fully stocked up on supplies, and the view wasn't too shabby either...
First things first, so the muffler situation took precedence, and after a couple of failed MacGyver-esque attempts to secure it to the frame with wire, I simply removed the muffler and tossed it on the floor in front of the passenger seat. "I'll deal with you later," I thought, resigning myself to the fact that, however the hell I was going to get myself out of this one, it was going to be freaking loud.
One end of a strap got attached to the van and the other to the pick-up, and just like that, I was back on terra firma. Albeit, with no muffler. With the nearest hardware store 25 miles away, right smack in the center of chi-chi Aspen, I had no choice but to hunker down and assault this pristine wilderness with the full-on, unmitigated belch of my Bostig conversion.
I played it real cool as I barked my way through this theme park for the rich disguised as a town, passing storefront after storefront with names like Ralph Lauren, Prada, Gucci, and Louis Vitton, the resulting sneers being all the welcome I would receive. Of all the places to have to drive without a muffler. I slunk down a bit deeper into the driver's seat and thought of that moment when Jerry Maguire realizes he's going to have to win his wife back in front of a roomful of pissed-off divorcees: "okay, okay...if this is where it has to happen, then...this is where it has to happen."
45 minutes later, and just a few minutes before Aspen's Ace Hardware closed, I strolled out with the necessary clamps, grabbed the muffler, crawled under the van, and just a little over an hour after getting pulled from the muck, I was safe from being arrested for disturbing the peace. Total cost: an Aspen-inflated but nonetheless acceptable price of $12 for the clamps.