Travels With TL: Crested Butte Anew

The Slap Burger design. This is exactly how I feel every time I go to Crested Butte.

Last week, Lynn called public health to see if she is among those for whom booster — although she has subsequently learned she is supposed to say “third shot” instead — shots are being recommended. Listening to only her side of the conversation with a nurse, the advice sounded rather circular, but the nurse must have told her yes. But the county is only administering shots on Mondays, and yesterday was all booked up.

[Here, if WordPress will cooperate, is the county’s update listing conditions eligible for a booster third shot as of now.]

City Market and Walmart are still offering shots, but surprisingly neither offers Pfizer, which is what Lynn got last spring. The only place outside of public health to get Pfizer is from Clark’s Market in Crested Butte. So Lynn made an appointment for 12:40 last Saturday. Road trip!

Lynn is the Almont Post Office six days each week, including Saturdays, so Oz and I drove up to meet her at noon, when the office closes. or would close, if not for late customers needing to mail packages. Yet somehow it was my fault that I wasn’t speeding to get her to her shot appointment five minutes ahead of schedule, as she had been instructed.

I did get her there on time, not that this turned out to matter. We rolled into Clark’s postage-stamp-sized pharmacy (even smaller than Lynn’s postage-stamp postage place in Almont) shortly before 12:40, and Lynn was promptly whisked to a side room.

But this is Crested Butte, and when you start talking about the space-time continuum, you have to leave this place off the linear portion.

I waited. I examined the products for sale — lots of cough syrup. I bought a box of bandages — SpongeBob! I wandered outside and watched an electric car, plus plenty of bicyclists, go by. I examined the exterior of Anthracite Place just across the street and wondered yet again what all the fuss had been about.

Anthracite Place didn’t exist until a few years ago (maybe 2016, going by the giant numbers at the top of the building), and the otherwise very liberal editor of the Crested Butte News led a vociferous campaign against this affordable housing project because it was going to absolutely destroy the entrance to town. Somehow that didn’t happen despite the dire predictions, and except for the big numbers up top this building could have been hunkered there for the last 100 years, not even noticeable, particularly, as one drives into town.

I finally realized I could see Lynn through an open window right beside me — could talk to her, even. What I said was, “I’m going to go wait in the car with Oz.”

I sat in the car and studied the Tesla across in the next parking “row,” a term I use only in the loosest sense of the word. The people in it couldn’t seem to decide what they wanted to do, and first raised (as in lifted up, more bent than a DeLorean) a side panel, then the rear panel. It was a little disappointing when the driver got in by opening a conventional door.

I got Oz some water from the back of our regular-hatch car. He didn’t want it. I rolled windows down. It started raining. I rolled them up. It stopped. I rolled them down. When someone with even less “row” sense than the rest of us parked next to me and blocked any view I had of the pharmacy, I tried to move to the next row right as someone entered from the other side. The “row” was wobbly enough that we both fit.

Crested Butte is not a color-inside-the-lines sort of place, but the Clark’s parking lot would be a lot easier to navigate if it were.

At last, here came Lynn, who had finally realized she left her phone in Almont, along with our credit card. It might astound you how many times she has forgotten her methods of payment when there’s a lunch involved.

She also said she was supposed to wait 10 more minutes in the parking lot, in case she had a reaction to her shot. I had assumed that’s what she’d been doing all this time in the pharmacy, which apparently had filled up with people waiting their turn, but no — the shot she was supposed to arrive five minutes early for didn’t happen until 20 minutes after her scheduled time, perhaps at the end of the pharmacist’s lunch break. Good thing I didn’t speed for that.

Now, I have been to the Clark’s Market parking lot several times this year, all of them for medical reasons, dental and Lynn’s not-booster. I have ventured no farther into Crested Butte on any of these occasions, not having seen the need. So while I’ve “been” to Crested Butte a few times since 2019, I haven’t really “been” there at all, and this was about to change.

In the back of the car, along with Oz’s unwanted water supply (and the pack holding my phone, which once again means I took no photos) were boxes of T-shirts for one of our customers whose store is on Elk Avenue, Crested Butte’s version of Main Street.

For the first time in probably two years, despite it being a mere 26 miles from my house, I ventured onto Elk Avenue. And immediately kind of wished I hadn’t.

While Lynn was busy remarking on how subdued it seemed, all I could see was people and cars everywhere. Last year, in an effort to keep people safer, the town council let their Elk Avenue businesses spill out into the street, which they narrowed down to one lane going in the direction that seems north to me but is really west, or so I keep getting told.

We ended up driving Elk twice, because I wanted to patronize one of our newest customers, Slap Burger (don’t tell any of our other customers, but his shirt design is my favorite), and we didn’t know where he was located. So we got a double look at the throngs thronging about, the restaurant street “patios” overflowing and people willing to walk six blocks up one side and down the other — as opposed to Gunnison, where people start driving if their next destination is two blocks away.

But it seemed anything but pedestrian, all these people all over the place, and Lynn — who should know this by now but apparently doesn’t — sighed and decided I am not likely to be her enthusiastic travel buddy.

Slap Burger was closed on a Saturday afternoon, which maybe had something to do with the “help wanted” sign in the window. We debated our other options while parked next to yet another Tesla, but decided it was too risky to leave Oz unattended in a car with open windows if we were going to have to wait an hour or more to get served on a busy street.

We drove back to Almont, where the billionaire owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers is now the owner of the Almont Resort, and where it turned out they offer a dog-friendly table just off their exceedingly charming back deck.

Then we took Lynn to her post office and phone, conveniently right after lunch had been paid for, and completed our road trip with a return home, where the couch was calling my name.

This travel stuff is exhausting. And not for the faint-of-heart — even if it is only just up the road.

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