(I’m going to be really honest with you right now. I wrote this blog post yesterday for the Unschool Adventures page, and just copy and pasted it here. But it’s good, I swear.)
This week we have been divided into smaller groups to work on specialized challenges picked just for us.
When my small group of three (Max, Sage, and myself) met with Blake, our mentor, on Sunday night, he read us the poem The Perfect High by Shel Silverstein. Since I’m going to make the assumption that many of you have not actually read this poem, the poem is here.
After sitting through the whole poem with many, many questions brewing in our minds, we were told there is a packing list in our email inboxes and to be ready to go by 9am the next morning. Sketchy.
The next morning we found ourselves in the car with no idea where we were headed, until everything started to look familiar. We were back in Paonia, but were still left with the question of who the guru was as we revisited our old stomping grounds. We drove to a part of town that was unfamiliar to us, and were greeted by an old friend, Cameron. He brought us to the cemetery, where he imparted his advice on how he enjoys to travel. The rest of our challenge, having finally met our guru, was to take his advice.
Cameron told us about Penny Hot Springs, and explained that each location we went to had to be dictated by recommendations from locals. But without Google Maps, finding the springs took a lot of stopping and asking for directions. Abut once we got there, we had a very pleasant and invigorating swim. We talked to some (naked, stoned) locals who pointed us towards some interesting locations in the vicinity of Aspen.
Ashcroft, a ghost town 11 miles outside of Aspen, offered us
a look into a decrepit part of Colorado history. We saw all manor of abandoned buildings, and we then went to what would turn out to be one of the most disappointing places of our adolescent lives: Aspen.
We explored businesses, and everything was too expensive. We asked for advice on places to visit and were only advised on tourist traps. A woman working at a coffee shop walked by us with a tin stuffed with a tragic number of donuts, clearly intended for garbage, addressed us with an apologetic “I’m sorry, I can’t give you any.” I hated it.
Defeated, hungry, and hoping to find a place to sleep before too long, we went back to the streets of Aspen. We very quickly encountered a beautiful, wonderful, young gentleman full of beautiful, wonderful advice. He told us about a pass that we could drive over that wouldn’t require us to retrace our steps, and would get us out of that god-forsaken town. While this conversation was going on, we became aware of a pizzeria across the street, a.k.a. dinner.
With our stomachs full of cheese and sugary tomato paste, we began our drive over Independence Pass. Where the pass intersected with the continental divide we did some star-gazing, perhaps some of the best yet during the semester. After driving down the pass, we arrived at our palace, our home-away-from-home, our godsend, a Super-8 Motel in Buena Vista, Colorado.
We slept like sedated elephants, only to be awoken by the promise (the lie) of a continental breakfast. A little hungry and full of expired yogurt, we took to the town to find our final destination. We had heard tell of hot springs several miles away in Salida, but were informed by several people that they were neither free nor all that great, so we kept on searching. Finally, at a bakery, we came across the nicest man in the entire world, and probably Jupiter as well. He fed us monkey bread and coffee and told us of a moderate hike to the top of the nearest hill. We took his advice and his food, and embarked on one last journey before heading back to the hostel. The hike proved to be a source of great conversation and reminiscence on our past 24 hours.
Three hours, four games of twenty questions, and 8 pounds of Chinese food later, we arrived back at the hostel with a multitude of stories, adventure in our hearts, and a craving to do nothing but sleep.
I’ve got to say, this challenge was one of the best so far. It felt like a real adventure; we didn’t know where our next destination was, how we were getting there, or who we were going to meet. I also now know the best ways to find the local’s favorite watering holes and coolest things to do without being sucked into all the tourist traps! Nice!