I had a great relaxing mini-vacation over the weekend. It was just what the doctor ordered to clean the fog off my windows, and I never even left Rio Blanco County.
I hadn’t been out of Rio Blanco overnight since September and the cabin fever had been closing in a bit. So instead of just crossing the county to cover the Rangely Area Chamber of Commerce’s annual Crab Crack, my wife and I left here at noon on Saturday, went to lunch when we arrived in town, checked into a comfortable motel, watched the Olympics and the insides of our eyelids throughout the afternoon until it was time to take a shower and get ready for the Crab Crack.
After the chamber’s annual Crab Crack, which was one of the most impressive and delicious meals my tired old windows had ever seen or my stomach had eaten, we went back to the hotel, watched more Olympics, went to sleep and checked out of the room about 11:30 a.m. This was a real treat for someone who is usually out of bed by 6 a.m.
It was just the getaway or change of scenery that was needed.
I haven’t been able to get over to Rangely as much as I have wanted this winter just because of the weather and late-night fear of hitting a deer or elk among the driving snowflakes.
But the Crab Crack was truly impressive.
The capacity 300 people did a fine job of eliminating between 600 and 700 pounds of king crab meat as well as plenty of other goodies from potatoes au gratin to salad, and green beans to chocolate-frosted yellow cake, with all the water and iced tea one could drink or all the beer and wine that one could purchase and consume. (For those of you around — and I know there are many of you — who have never eaten king crab, there is nothing quite like it on this earth. When it comes to eating, there are three favorites that jump out immediately, in order, and that is king crab, lamb and good prime rib.) King crab is nothing like snow crab or Dungeness crab; it is much, much larger, meatier and sweeter.
It was a great time to see the acquaintances I do have in Rangely and a wonderful opportunity to meet many more Rangely residents.
The food was good for lunch downtown on Saturday and Sunday, although the choices were few on Sunday, and it was a great time to drive around and visit a few shops, set my foot for the first time in the White River Market and just check out the town some more and visit the parks, even though they were pretty well blanketed with snow.
The getaway was brief, it was fun and it was friendly. It brightened the darkness of a long winter and rejuvenated the spirit.
Thanks Rangely, you made my weekend.
I generally hate telephones. I am on the phone at the office almost constantly and while I am sitting at my desk, the cell phone rings fairly often.
I do, however, admit to being a bit of a weather freak, so I keep my phone close so I can find out what is happening around Northwest Colorado for what I might expect to see in Rio Blanco County within the next couple of hours.
I often hear from Meeker residents that this has been a long, cold winter and that many are already looking forward to spring.
Well, I can safely say that this week has the first forecast 40-plus-degree highs that my phone has shown me since before the big cold-out in December. While I wouldn’t mind admitting that I would like to see the temperatures a bit higher, I really enjoy watching the snow.
I also get a kick out of the people of Rio Blanco County who think this place is windy.
Sorry, folks. I don’t think so!
I grew up in Boulder, which they used to say had the highest wind of any metropolitan area in the United States. I can believe it. I have seen a lot of roofs blown off a lot of houses in that city.
Then I spent nine years in Central Wyoming around Riverton and Casper, neither of which is a metropolitan area but will give Boulder at run for windiness any day.
Then I spent nine years in Southern Arizona, which is also really windy from March through October and sometimes from March to March. The only good thing about that is that the wind or a good strong breeze is usually welcome from May to October because it is really hot as well.
Then I spent another four years in Wyoming with two of those years at Rawlins, which is known by Wyomingites and other travelers as being along that nasty I-80 corridor, where it never stops blowing.
Then I spent 18 years in Northwest Arizona, about 90 miles southeast of Las Vegas and I can say that from April to October, it can blow for weeks at a time.
When my wife and I got tired of Arizona, we sat down and looked all over Colorado and Wyoming (my home state and hers, respectively) for a place that wasn’t windy. We both like snow; cold temperatures can be dealt with; we wanted a small town; we needed to be within two hours of an airport; and the reason we looked at Colorado and Wyoming is that we haven’t spent much time in the last 30 years near family. But the No. 1 thing we looked at was the wind.
While we both like the winter, we didn’t like that everywhere we’ve lived for the past 30 years — including Arizona — the snow fell horizontally. In its left-alone, natural state, snow actually falls from high to low. It doesn’t naturally fall from right to left or from front to back. It falls down. We hadn’t seen that in nearly 30 years.
But it falls down in Rio Blanco County.
It is really a beautiful sight when snow falls down and builds up all around you. What a difference from all those places where snow blows sideways and causes five or six foot drifts.
When we lived in Rawlins, we had a townhouse less than a block off Interstate 80. It had a 10-foot high fence all around the back yard, which was about 25 feet wide.
Each winter no matter what we did, the snow in the back yard was down bare on the west side of the yard and we could walk the snowdrift up and over the 10-foot fence to the east.
That isn’t winter. That is a prolonged blizzard.
The weather is wonderful here in the winter — made all the better just because snow is left alone and because it falls down.
I have seen exactly three days since I moved here almost 11 months ago today that I would consider windy, and even they weren’t windy for more that two or three hours at a time.
Appreciate it, folks. If you think this place is windy, you haven’t been outside of Rio Blanco County very much in your life. Yet, that may be a good thing!