Postcard from the West #4

Laramie-Fort Collins


The rain was just starting to fall in heavy, randomly-spaced drops as we got into the car in Laramie. Kwame’s dad David wanted to be in Fort Collins — where he splits his time — by 7pm. ‘Light rain’ was forecast for the next hour. Afternoon thunderstorms are a regular event in the region, but we still marveled at how quickly the weather changed.

The rain began to fall more insistently by the time we reached the outskirts of the city. Thunder and lightning started soon after…and did not let up. Our entire 60+-mile drive was on its way to being more of a light show. Every few seconds we were oohing, ahhing and WOW-ing. At one point, a bolt hit the road little more than 50 yards in front of our vehicle.  I kept trying to take video

and then stopped, comprehending anew what that phrase ‘catch lightning in a bottle’ is all about.

It was still pouring so hard when we got to Fort Collins that we sat a minute in the driveway, deciding whether to wait it out to walk the few steps to the door. It had been so warm all week that none of us had thought to bring rain jackets. We got a little wet on the way to the door, but it was easy to laugh off. Colorado was mid-drought and everyone was very happy for the needed moisture. Steph and Jen had a healthy and very welcome warm meal waiting for us when we finally got inside. As we ate, we could hear the sound of now-full creeks running in the background.

After dinner, we circled up in the living room with our guitars to swap songs with David, a lifelong musician, with a catalog of folk standards and traditionals at the ready. It’s alway a joy to hear him do songs such as ‘Freight Train’ and ‘City of New Orleans,’ and to hear father and son play together.

‘It’s like it should be,’ he said as we were putting our instruments back in their cases.

Fort Collins, CO, circa 2022, reminds me of Boulder, CO, when I lived there in the 1990s. There was a low hum of a bustle around town, everyone looking fit and ready to climb a mountain or run a footrace. In the morning, we hiked in the foothills of the Front Range and were among the few people out on the trails who were simply walking.The animals were also on the move: we saw a muskrat swimming upstream while crossing over a footbridge, and small brown frogs kept hopping over the muddier parts of the trail. I was more startled to see that the young man who called out a greeting as he passed us on the trail was wearing a holster. From notices for gun auctions, sales and buy-back programs, gun culture was on full display in this part of the west, but his was the first open carry I’d noticed.

We waited until after the flash flood warnings were over to hit the road back north. This time, the clouds were just beginning to lift as we headed out and the light on the red rocks was silvery gold.


What footage I managed with ‘Lit by the Mystery’ from The Department of the West