Guest opinion – Merry Christmas Kremmling, Colorado, from Upstate New York
Indulge me for a bit while I tell you about two of your neighbors, a bike trip with my kids, and of course a catch, the request of a favor from you.
I’m riding bikes across the country with my two college-aged kids, Emily and Ryan, (my wife is way too smart for such things). This year’s leg started in Jackson Hole and then ground to a halt in Riverside, Wyo. Emily had been complaining for a couple of days that something was not right with her swollen knee. This was indeed right.
We looked at all our options and decided that the kids would stay in a cabin in Riverside while I rode ahead in hopes of finding a rental car in order to come back, pick them up and seek advice on Emily’s knee.
I rode Sunday night, woke early July 6 and made it to Granby by lunch time where I had been told I could rent a car. I was disappointed. After two hours and many phone calls it was confirmed that the three rental cars had all been spoken for. Did I mention that July 6 was Ryan’s 18th birthday? I was determined to not mess it up. My wife reached me on my cell and I could tell by her tone that she wasn’t happy. She had just gotten through to the kids who explained about the knee, the plan and what seemed to her to be a desolate cabin far from civilization. “Was this anyway to spend an 18th birthday?” “You left them alone in a cabin?”! I didn’t have the energy to explain that the cabin was on a beautiful fishing stream and had air conditioning and a flat screen TV.
Nothing sucks the will out of a cyclist like a strong headwind and that’s what I faced heading out of Granby. The sunshine gave way to rain and just before entering your town hail started pelting me. If you saw me that day peddling toward your town in a hail storm you probably shook your head and said the same thing I would have said, “What is this guy thinking?”
My spirits lifted as I saw the small airport on the outskirts of your town and assumed there must be a place to rent a car or at least get a taxi. My spirits plummeted when the nice lady at the Visitor Center was sorry to explain no car rental and no taxi. She made calls on my behalf to car rental agencies so that I could rent a car in Frisco. Unfortunately they were closing by 6 p.m. She listened about the trip, knee, cabin and birthday. I was pretty sure that my internal meltdown was not evident but she seemed to pick up on it as I stood in front of her wet, shivering and pondering the hopelessness in trying to make it 37 miles before the car rental closed.
I don’t know this nice lady’s name but her husband’s name is Jeff. He works in a bank and he drives a red pickup truck, which came in handy as he transported me and my bike to the rental company. I’m not too sure how I would react if my wife called and asked me to come into town and pick up a stranger, drive 37 miles and turn around and head home. I thanked Jeff while we were driving and smiled as I looked out the truck window at the mountains and he said he was just happy to be in a position to help me out. I smiled because, word for word, this is exactly what his wife had said back at the Visitor Center when I expressed my appreciation.
Thanks to the kindness of two strangers Ryan will always remember that late, on his 18th birthday, in a cabin in Wyoming, I showed up with three slices of cheesecake (all I could find). Emily and I could sing “Happy Birthday” after all. Emily’s knee recovered after a local bike store owner diagnosed that her knee problem was caused by a maladjusted seat. We made it safely to Hutchinson, Kan., and will arrive back there next summer to head east again toward the Atlantic.
Well it’s almost Christmas now and summer seems like a long time ago. If you think you might know this married couple would you do me the favor of wishing them a very “Merry Christmas” and pass along my thanks to them?
Merry Christmas, Kremmling.
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