Day 63: Wandering around Breckenridge

I woke early due to the drunken, snoring bunk mate beneath me at Fireside Inn and used the opportunity to catch up on the messed up news of the world (what the hell is Pokemon Go? UK politics? Bernie is endorsing Hillary? And don’t get me started with Trump), and once my eyes were open enough, I started to look into the possibility of staying in Breckenridge for a while. That’s a stressful thing, but it was made better by the sitting area of the Bed and Breakfast/bunkhouse:

Nice digs, especially considering it’s the cheapest spot in town…even though it isn’t cheap.

I wasn’t feeling very hopeful about a temporary stay in Breckenridge. I had seen several “help wanted” signs in retail store windows in town but even if I were able to get a job, there is nowhere to stay. I figured I’d wait till the town woke up after breakfast to go ask around. 

Whatever stress I had was mitigated by giving some love to Gaspode, the 16 year old poodle that wanders around the B and B. Such a sweet old guy.

I’ve never met a dog that loved his neck scratched more than Gaspode. Great dog. 

Fireside is a bed and breakfast, so of course I had breakfast with everyone after getting out of bed. This is pretty much my first B and B experience, and I’m surprised at how great it was. I had a blast sharing a meal with strangers-turned-friends. A lot of people come here in the summer for various things – day hiking, mountain biking, and of course the through-hikers of the Colorado Trail. I especially enjoyed talking with them and hearing their experiences since making the trek from Denver. I now get the draw of long distance hiking, but it doesn’t grab me the way touring does. I need the bike under me for my adventures.

I talked with Nikki and Andy, the owners, about finding work in town. They said it would be difficult to find a gig because so many people come to town for the same thing, and even harder to find a place to stay. After all the research I had done in the wee hours of the morning I wasn’t surprised to hear it. But I still decided to put foot on pavement and ask around. 

That began with seeing the statue of Tom’s Baby, memorializing Tom finding a big lump of gold around here in the 1880s. 

Just like tourist trap statues all over the world, if you rub the gold it’s supposed to bring good luck. I don’t believe in this kind of thing (I don’t even believe in luck, at least how it’s commonly understood), but I gave it a rub. My legs, lungs, and heart don’t need it but my pocketbook does. 

A coffee shop was hiring. So was a sex shop. I thought the latter would be hilarious to apply to, but then there’s the problem – where do I stay while working? If I had a car I could stay in a cheaper place further away (or even free if I camped in the national forests), but I’m on a steep mountain side at 10,000 feet. It’s just not practical. I decided that I’d keep chatting to people but was almost certainly going to leave after the night. This town is too expensive to hold out hope in. I’m going to pass through a descent amount of small towns on the way to Missoula, and I’m going to stop in every one to see what’s doing. Breckenridge is one of a few elite mountain towns in Colorado, but there are others that aren’t as elite…and they’ll be cheaper with better camping options. I’m going to do my best to bring new meaning to “thrifty touring” in the meantime.

But I still wandered around town, taking it in. I was here nearly 20 years ago to ski and see a band (The Drovers) play a bar gig. Kind of fascinating being back, although I don’t remember it well enough to judge how the town has changed.  

There were people washing a bunch of dogs outside the Children’s Museum:

With a stunning view behind them of the slopes:

I was very pleasantly surprised to a Czech-American fusion restaurant:

And the mountains peeking through the townscape were always smile-inducing:

But before long it became clear: this is a town for incredibly rich people to buy vacation homes, drink copious amounts of alcohol, and buy souvenirs and tshirts with corny sayings printed on them. That’s pretty much all Breckenridge is beyond the incredible mountain landscape and impeccable skiing. Souvenir shops, bars, realtors, and expensive restaurants. It’s like a western version of Gatlinburg, TN on steroids. After about an hour I had my fill. 

And in more ways than one. Now more than ever I feel driven to getting back on the bike. Normally after rest days I feel this way, but it is an incredibly strong urge right now. There is so much to see on the road ahead of me, and as soon as I leave town, I’ll be entering into weeks of the unknown. I’ve never been through the part of Colorado I’ll be riding through next, and I’ve never been through Wyoming or Montana. Jackson Hole and Yellowstone are a couple weeks ahead of me; maybe less if I pull some long days, which I’m thinking of doing. I feel strong, I’ll be gradually descending, and I’ll be breathing more air.

I headed over to Avalanche Sports to see what their business is like and feel out bicycle gigs.

All those bikes are rentals that will be sold at the end of the season. There are basically no new bike sales in town because inventory means square footage in retail space and rent is astronomical here. I mentioned what I was looking for to the guy I was talking to and he said that he’s lived in town 12 years and can’t afford to live there, and thinks every summer of camping in the forest to save money. The same story everywhere I went. 

The tshirt shops were unexpectedly informative though:

Einstein had it right. Just keep moving. And that’s exactly what I’m going to do after breakfast in the morning. I can’t wait to cruise down the mountain tomorrow – a 2500 foot drop in elevation to Hot Sulpher Springs. That’s what I’m going to shoot for at least.


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