The consumption of Marijuana is legal in the state of Colorado for anyone over the age of 21 years, however we never encountered anything of the sort on our trip to the Centennial State and if you have read this far then congratulations on being part of Kill’s Corner‘s first official ‘click bait’.
In fact, the title of this piece is linked more to the Rocky Mountains and the picturesque town of Aspen which for the past week has taken our breath away like the theme song to the movie Top Gun.
Time flies when you are having fun and it is hard to believe that we were in New Orleans just a week ago. Although the details of said New Orleans weekend are quite hazy, it is still a fresh and fond memory that lingers in the largely empty space that is my mind.
We left Amarillo for the second and final time on Thursday, armed to the teeth once more with Biltong and Boerewors from Paul. Off we set for Colorado via New Mexico and it made me a little homesick leaving the Lone Star State as I felt that I had stayed there long enough to apply for citizenship. Which should prove handy as another Democratic victory will in all likelihood see the Texans opt to seceded from the United States.
Our drive through the Rockies to Aspen was like something out of a movie – not a B-Grade Leon Schuster classic, but rather one of them fancy films like the Sound of Music. Crystal clear creeks littered with fly fisherman, snow capped mountains and lakes so blue you would think they come from a Kreepy Krauly advert.
Unfortunately, our engine light decided to come on at the bottom of Independence Pass which is a treacherous mountain road that is only open in the summer. Safe to say that despite the noticeably cooler climate, we were still wiping sweat from our brow whilst also keeping a look out for suitable camping spots as our cellphone coverage had abandoned us.
Eventually we made it to Aspen and the juice was well worth the squeeze. My camera and poor use of adjectives unfortunately do little justice to this place – it is unreal, exquisite, fantastic, bloody marvellous and with the Autumn weather the red, yellow and green trees make the mountains look like a majestic splattering of melted jelly tots. Darryl Kerrigan thought Bonnie Doon had all the serenity in the world, but I think someone ought to tell him he’s dreaming.
Other than the cooler climate and breathtaking scenery, Aspen happens to be 2410 metres (7940ft) above sea level which makes ones skin drier than Kev Lee’s bathmat as Purds would say. Just to emphasise that altitude, Johannesburg is 1753 metres (5751ft) – which means that the Highveld can’t be the most difficult place to play rugby unless its past happy hour at Loftus during a brandy shortage in front of a packed house.
In Aspen, we were to stay with Gary Hughes, an old school mate of Purdon’s old man Chris. Gary is originally from Johannesburg, went to Kingswood and has been living in the States since the early 80s. He had never met Charlie despite being best buds with his old man and this little reunion was something quite special.
Gary and his wife Lori took us under their wing immediately as we went out to dinner. A lot of it was spent yarning and reminiscing the legendary shenanigans the ballies got up to in their school days before we headed into town to do our usual first night nonsense of overshooting the proverbial mark.
Now I have been through some tough hangovers in my life, but what I experienced after my first night out in Aspen was I think the closest comparison I could get to child birth. We went All the way Up with Fat Joe on Thursday night only to come crashing down like a comet the next day. Gary found it all very amusing as these two young strangers in a foreign land failed to adjust to the altitude and writhed in pain and fatigue for most of Friday.
Also, Aspen is teeming with young South Africans, so the novelty of my sultry voice and accent is wearing off quicker than the shine on a two-piece Kookaburra.
Friday we cruised around town and tried to take in what we could before eventually conceding defeat to take an early call of stumps for the day.
Saturday saw us up at the crack of dawn for me to make it to my warm up for the Aspen Ruggerfest where I was to play with Grant Prior for the Gentleman of Aspen. I thought this was to be a Cape Town 10s type event, however when it comes to sport and particularly rugby, the Yanks just seem to miss the point at times. It was full on 15-a-side rugby (3 games of 40 mins) and it was taken more seriously than a heart attack, especially by those Aspen old boys who had flown in five blokes from Australia. Yes this was about winning at all costs (literally) and fun was to be secondary. Not what was on the menu for an out of shape holiday goer.
I rode pine for the first game and watched Prior run some hapless Yanks ragged with the help of his band of merry men made up predominately of shackle draggers from that big island in the land down under.
This was to be the end of my tournament as there were heaps of players to call on, many of whom were regular club players meaning that my inclusion would have seen them pull splinters all day…which just isn’t fair.
Now Aspen won the tournament in 2015 and once again were in line to face a team called the Misfits in the final. Only this time the Misfits were smiting from their 2015 loss and had recruited a squad that featured at least 10 players from the PRO Rugby North America League including 20 Test Springbok Pedrie Wannenburg. Aspen’s only pro was non other than Captain America himself – Todd Clever.
The majority of the rugby can be equated to 3rd team club rugby in South Africa, however the final was pretty hard core and physical with the Misfits taking a 47 – 20 win. As can be expected from a team made up primarily of professionals, there was some champagne rugby on display, but the Aspen boys played with some good fire and intent too.
I don’t think we would ever see many current professionals strutting their stuff at a ‘social’ tournament in South Africa, so it was rather unique if not bizarre in that sense.
This was my fifth and penultimate weekend in the USA, I have just one left in Las Vegas before heading back to the Republic. It was yet another special weekend and we ended it off with a braai with the Hughes clan. Gary and Lori have been really good to us, treating us like family and ensuring that we are more than comfortable, whilst also keeping us entertained with plenty banter.
Expect our instagrams and snapchats to go crazy over the coming days as we head for Horseshoe Bend and Zion National Park before heading off to Las Vegas.
Part 0 – California here we come
Part 1 – Cookhouse, Cathcart, California
Part 2 – Dust, Snakes and the Wild West
Part 3 – The Excess of Texas
Part 4 – An Austin in Austin
Part 5 – Shoot first, ask questions later
Part 6 – No rest for the wicked