This is a story about a young man’s first visit to the Telluride bluegrass music festival in Colorado during the 1980s. Telluride is in the southwestern mountains of Colorado in San Miguel county. It sits at the end of a canyon with steep mountains all around with a magnificent waterfall in the north end of the canyon. It is famous for a fantastic ski area which people enjoy during the snowy winter months with great Rocky Mountain powder and the dryer snow at that higher elevation. It is also known for it’s music festivals such as the Telluride Bluegrass Festival and the Telluride Jazz Festival.
His Story begins in Albuquerque New Mexico, approximately 5 hours south of Telluride. He and his friends planned a three-day trip to enjoy the Bluegrass Festival and listen to some extraordinary progressive, professional bluegrass musicians. High on the list of must-see bands was the New Grass Revival. This band did not disappoint any way, shape or form. These seasoned professionals with their acoustic instruments blew the doors off the venue despite the fact no doors exist in the exquisite outdoor music performance beauty.
The small group of four set out late Thursday afternoon from Albuquerque in a small 4-cylinder station wagon. With tents and cooking equipment in tow, their plan was to camp in one of the many designated camping areas for patrons of this wonderful Music Festival. They found a great place to camp within walking distance of all of the different events in the area. Telluride is not a large town so most everything is in biking or walking distance. Of course, there was quite a lot of drinking going on with this younger group of individuals who did not know each other all that well.
The group eventually went their separate ways and on to their own businesses and lives. One became very successful with his towing company in Arizona, Chandler Towing. Others went on to do nice things for people in need in the hospice industry. They were all great people and this memory will last a lifetime.
It was not long before they got separated from one another as they enjoyed the various things that happen at an event like this. Remember that Telluride is about 5 hours travel on freeways from Albuquerque. So it’s good two hundred and fifty miles or so away. Unfortunately for one of the young members of this group he was unable stay connected with the group when it came time to leave on Sunday afternoon. So when he did make it back to where the camp was they were no longer there. This was in the days long before cell phones even existed so the reality was he is now stranded in Telluride Colorado with no transportation back to Albuquerque.
So what was he to do? He thought about hitchhiking back to Albuquerque but the racial tensions in the area between tourists and some locals made him think it was not such a great idea. So, he was fortunate enough to have a few dollars left in his pocket that he had not spent on beer and other merriment’s that were abundantly available. With the remaining coin in his pocket he decided to call family members in Albuquerque and request some help. Fortunately for him he was able to reach his mother who was kind enough to pay for a plane ticket from the Telluride airport back to the Albuquerque Airport. Now the problem for him was how to get to the Telluride airport because it was not in walking distance. At that time he realized he had no choice but to hitchhike.
Now please picture this, he had not showered in at least 36 to 48 hours. So, he was not only ripe he just plain stunk like a skunk. But he started walking for the airport anyway with his thumb extended and hoping and praying that someone would pick him up before his airplane left because there are not that many flights in and out of Telluride Colorado to Albuquerque, or anywhere for that matter. If he missed this flight it was days before another was available. Well, fortunate for him a group of older residents who were driving to the airport to drop off some friends took pity upon the poor soul walking down the street with his thumb out and picked him up and delivered him to the airport. I still feel sorry for them since they had to endure his stink for the short ride.
So for this young man he was really fortunate to arrive before his plane departed even though he stunk to high heaven. He made his way to the airport bathroom facilities and washed up as best he could with the limited resources a public restroom in an airport has to offer. But he was able to at least tone down the stench surrounding his unscrupulous activities for the last few days. He was able to get on the flight and he was very fortunate in that his apartment was actually within walking distance of the Albuquerque Airport. Not only that, he had managed to not lose his keys during that eventful 3 days and he was able to get home in one piece and finally take that needed shower.
Decades have past but the impact of those great musicians remain to this day for him. They helped to open his eyes to the beauty of acoustic instruments and helped to form a lifelong love for music.