(Malorie) That might be exaggerating a little, but it seemed like nothing was going our way. Charlie and I bolted through the door the second we got off and headed West bound for Crested Butte. This little mountain town holds a special place in our hearts, and since we haven’t been traveling as much this summer, we could not wait for the chance to take a mini road trip. We set out Friday with hopes of riding the gravel bikes from Crested Butte to Crystal Mill. We had the truck loaded down with all of the essentials, i.e a million BoBo bars, jalapeño kettle chips, cooler full of food, and our riding gear. It took us roughly four hours to get to Crested Butte, and immediately were grinning ear to ear. Crested Butte is nestled at the base of Mt. Crested Butte and consists of one street with a straight shot to down town. There is an abundance of wild flowers and water, and the locals meander the streets with an ease of the simple life. There is plenty of shopping and restaurants that line the main drag making it an excellent destination.
We decided to go find our camping spot before the sun went down, so we headed up a dirt road to find national forest land. After searching for thirty minutes, Charlie and I found a cute little spot to post up for a couple of days. After shifting into park we both hopped out and assumed our roles. Charlie and I work exceptionally well together. We rarely have to tell each other what to do. Basically, we are two peas in a pod. I started to unload our mini kitchen, which consists of a folding table, Coleman grill, and RTIC cooler. Charlie found a sweet little spot that was flat enough to ensure we would have a good nights rest, so I tossed him the tent. He pulled all of the contents out, laid them on the ground, and then stared at me. “Where are the tent poles babe”?
Fuck…I forgot to check the tent! I threw my hands up with frustration and began to look in the bed of my truck. I searched and searched in hopes of tent poles magically appearing in my crowded truck bed, but that wasn’t the case. I pulled myself out and slowly raised my head until my eyes locked with Charlie’s. In that moment I felt like a failure. This was supposed to be our little getaway and I had ruined it. Instead of crying, Charlie and I did the only thing that came natural to us…we laughed our asses off. Laughing aside, we were still screwed. We sat in the truck staring at each other trying to come up with a solution. I figured we could go to our favorite pizza place, shout out to Secret Stash, and wrap our heads around the situation. As soon as I got cell phone service I began searching for hotels. I belted out a loud laugh (and snort), and Charlie stared at me wondering what was so funny considering our situation. The hotels were all booked except for one and they wanted $350 a night. No way in hell would we pay that amount of money for a place to sleep. We defeatedly sauntered our way to Secret Stash and we’re immediately stunned at the amount of people waiting. This wasn’t even a busy time of year and yet there were so many people crowding the streets of Crested Butte. Luckily, we got two seats at the bar. After ordering drinks and pizza we discussed our options. Charlie said he would sleep outside with his pad and sleeping bag, and I could have the bed of the truck. The other option was to head home, but I didn’t want to drive another four hours back to the house. We ate our pizza and headed up the mountain to our camp site. As we drove the truck to its final destination, it began to rain. Of course it began to rain. That was our luck on this trip, so we had to compromise. We took all of the contents out of the truck bed, blew up the sleeping pads and decided to both sleep in the bed of the truck. Charlie started a fire and as we corralled around the fire, the wind picked up. This wasn’t a gentle breeze you might encounter when walking on the ocean, this was monsoon wind. We had to quickly put out the camp fire, throw the rest of the fire wood under the truck, and get into the bed.
Charlie is 6’0 tall and I am 5’8, so essentially we are not little people. My truck bed on the other hand is only 5’0 long, so you can imagine two giants cramming into a tight box. Now don’t get me wrong, I love Charlie with all of my heart and I want to spend every night for the rest of my life sleeping next to him, but there was no wiggle room that night. Even a fart would feel claustrophobic. I told him that we had to let the tailgate down so my legs could stretch out or I would be up all night. We opened the tailgate and camper top and instantly sighed in relief. The sleeping bags and pads were going to get wet, but that was a small price to pay for a good nights sleep.
We woke up the next morning feeling slightly better about the trip and proceeded to get ready for our ride. I figured we could relax a little, sip some warm coffee, and watch the sunrise. I forgot to mention that 50 miles into the road trip I suddenly remembered that I forgot my pots and pans to cook with. I told Charlie and he told me to relax and we could pick something up when we got to Gunnison. We stopped at the 1950’s inspired Safeway in Gunnison and searched for a cheap pot to boil water in. Unsuccessful, we purchased a thick glass bowl in hopes of boiling water for coffee. Considering that I was going to boil water in a glass bowl, I ignited the burner and kept a low flame glowing. I tried to warm up the bowl before putting water into and placing it on the burner. Initially things were looking up. Inside I was cheering and hopeful that the rest of the trip would go as planned. I walked over to the truck and grabbed the coffee and Charlie’s cup (I left mine at home, of course) and began the coffee making process. I walked over to the burner to check that everything was okay, turned my back to let Charlie know that our “pot” was working, and then the sound hit my hears. It was a deafening explosion that left glass and water all over my table, grill, and ground. I turned around to witness the disaster that had been left and hung my head. I turned to Charlie and told him that I was ready to go home. Everything was going wrong and I did not want to risk our luck on a 35 mile ride. He agreed and we packed up.
We picked up the glass and made sure to leave no trace before heading down the mountain. We strolled around a sleepy Crested Butte, grabbed coffee, and enjoy the early morning calm. Eventually, we made our way to Paradise Cafe for breakfast and were seated at the bar. After perusing through the menu I decided to get the smoked salmon Benedict with hash browns and Charlie got the original Benedict. Both absolutely delicious. While we were ravenously awaiting our food Charlie and I started talking to a woman sitting next to us named Kathy. Kathy has lived in Crested Butte for 35 years and raised her children there. As she sipped her white Russian she told us of a time when Crested Butte was merely a hay field. She purchased her lot of land for 35,000 dollars in hopes of raising her children in a safe, comfortable mountain town. Little did Kathy know her quaint mountain town would soon turn into one of Colorado’s most popular vacation spots. We listened and laughed with Kathy as she told us stories of her life. There was a pleasant warmth about Kathy and before we left we exchanged numbers in hopes of reuniting the next time we traveled her way. We got back to the truck, filled up with gas, and headed home. So it wasn’t the road trip we had planned for, big deal. We got home and were able to enjoy dinner with my Uncle Jerry and Aunt Sandra. They too were on a road trip around the United States and graced us with their presence as they were passing through. We ate steak, chicken, grilled potatoes, and huckleberry pie. Uncle Jerry had the family laughing so hard we could hardly contain our happiness. We talked about our family’s history and laughed at the ridiculous actions our ancestors made. I learned that I was a member of the Belle sisters and will forever be grateful for the experience to learn where I come from. We didn’t get to ride an epic road in Crested Butte, so what? That road will be there. The moments spent with family are priceless and I am blessed to have had so many. Charlie and I will always take the good with the bad, because at the end of the day we have each other and we always know how to enjoy our adventures regardless of the circumstances.