“I got my marijuana license right here,” the man in the coffee shop told me, then the shop owner pitched in, “My license is by the cash register.” The topic came up while having a friendly chat with people in rural Colorado.
Sabra and I traveled to the state last week to visit her family.
Our first stop was Denver, where her parents live, and then we moved on to Crestone, where her sister and her husband live.
About 200 miles south by southwest of Denver, Crestone is a small village at the foot of the western slope of the Sangre de Cristo (Blood of Christ) Range, in the northern part of the San Luis Valley. It was a small mining town, but little ore was discovered. In the 1970s, a large land development, the Baca Grande, was established and several hundred homes were built. The area has also become a spiritual and new age center with several world religions represented, including a Hindu temple, a Zen center, a coed Carmelite monastery, several Tibetan centers and miscellaneous new age happenings.
Not bad for a town with a population of 73, according to the 2000 census.
Among the “new age happenings” are crystal vortexes and alien sightings. There are so many sightings that a watchtower has been built to view the extra terrestrials outside of the nearby town of Hooper. The tower is more of a 10-foot tall platform. By climbing it you can see almost 40 miles in any direction instead of the almost 40 miles in any direction without the tower. A curio shop is located under the platform selling everything from T-shirts to alien poop samples. In front of the shop are two crystal vortexes (invisible funnels of energy) where visitors can leave some small personal item to bring good karma. The resulting detritus is very impressive with thousands of items, including jewelry, shoes, hats, glasses, old credit cards, curling irons, hub caps and more laying about. I left a small bottle opener with a Cubs logo a friend gave me a few years ago. It did bring good luck as the Cubs did not lose that day (but then again, they didn’t play).
We rode bicycles 54 miles to the nearby Great Sand Dunes National Park. Sharing the road with cars and trucks, we were impressed with how friendly and conscientious drivers were in giving plenty of room when passing. While at the park we went on a four-mile hike that climbed the 1,500 feet to Mosca pass. As we climbed, the temperature dropped, and what started as a spring day turned into a snowstorm. Shades of the Donner Party danced through my head but we pulled through.
We came across one of my favorite spots on the ride back from the park; a natural hot spring swimming pool on the outskirts of Hooper. Water temperature is kept at about 90 degrees (107 in a hot tub area) throughout the year. With snowcapped mountains shimmering in the distance you can float in warm water year round. The pool also offered a gourmet snack bar featuring everything from three kinds of calamari to zesty salads.
Another fun spot was on a bench outside the medical marijuana dispensary in Crestone. Colorado legalized medical marijuana about a decade ago and the industry has really blossomed in the past couple of years. The law allows people with debilitating medical conditions like cancer and AIDS to buy a license for $90 a year. The license allows the owner to grow up to six plants and possess small amounts, up to two ounces, of marijuana. Doctors may also prescribe cannabis for people with “severe pain” or “muscle spasms.” Put all that together and it’s said that the average applicant for a license is a 22-year-old who claims to have a backache.
No wonder there are so many alien sightings.
On another drug-related note, the big news in Colorado during the week was a cocaine bust by federal agents in Aspen. Ten people were arrested, six from the trendy ski resort and four from Los Angeles. It was noted that seven of the 10 arrested were 60 or older, and none had any weapons. Authorities accuse the defendants of distributing more than 5 kilograms of extra-pure cocaine in the Aspen area during the course of their one-year investigation. Also noteworthy in the arrest was the fact that federal authorities purposely kept local law enforcement officials in the dark about the operation, fearing that they would tip off the drug dealers.
I’ve never been to Aspen but I hear people go there for the snow.