Date: Sunday, August 11, 2013 (Colorado Springs to Denver)
Time: About 12:30 pm
Wait: less than two minutes!
Maybe my bright orange hitchhiking sign is doing its’ job and attracting the right kind of people to pick me up. It’s only after waiting for less than two minutes that Barry, a forty-something man with his two-year old kid in the backseat swoops me up, after barely having set my feet down.
“I live in Denver, but my mother is transitioning into a nursing home,” he tells me. ” It was going to be a gathering for the family, but you know with schedules and all of that, it didn’t work out quite that way,” he explains.
Barry is somewhat of an eccentric that believes it is the responsibility of the parents to educate their children, not the government alone. ” We decided to home school Todd until he gets into high school,” he tells me. He explains that his middle school and high school experiences were less-than-challenging, and it wasn’t until he went to a private school that he became truly interested.
“It’s hit or miss in the public schools system,” he says. “It’s a 50% chance that you might get a great teacher that cares, a 50% chance that you might get a teacher that does not. My last few years of high school, I got out of the public school system because I hated it. I was a bit concerned about the private school idea, because I had this idea of all the kids gathering around a tree collecting maple syrup, this kind of ‘yuppie’ mentality and stigmas that go along with it… I was like ‘I can’t let my friends find out about that!’… but in the end, it turned out to be great. They actually offered detailed classes on US history, even a class on the Vietnam war, which I found engaging.”
Barry explains that for once, he was genuinely interested in the subject matter and his intellect was challenged.
We talk a bit about writing and the business of such, as Barry is involved with marketing. “What’s his name… Richard Engel started out freelance reporting the war in Iraq before he got hired by CNN,” he says. “So it is possible to do it on your own.” He tells me another story he had heard or read about where there was a large group of writers in New York working for a company and the company kept downsizing, requiring what writers were left to pump out more and more writing for less pay. “Eventually,” he says,”all the writers packed up and left New York– they couldn’t afford to live off their salary and they didn’t enjoy writing anymore.”
We talk a bit about Colorado Springs, and the history of Colorado City in particular. “You know, Colorado City was the first colonial settlement during the gold rush,” he says. “What happened was, the wealthy people decided that they didn’t want to live around the miners, and the lifestyle and environment they created. Gambling, prostitution, drunkenness, fights… so they moved outwards to escape that environment, which over time developed in the surrounding areas of what became Colorado Springs.”
I take this opportunity to tell him about my misadventure this weekend at the Colorado City farmer’s market on Saturday. My brother and I went to explore the market for a moment, and locked are bikes up in front of Front Range Barbeque, only to come back and find that the cable lock had been cut. Granted, it was my naivety in locking them up with a cable lock (I’ve learned before and should have known better), but it was only for a few, and my famous last words were “I wouldn’t do this in Denver, but this is just the farmer’s market.”
We came back, and of course someone had cut the locks, and the bikes were missing. The employee at the BBQ joint said that he had already called the police, and that he had seen two guys run off towards the bike trail. So a police officer showed up, we filed the report, and set off to walking back home.
On the way back, we decided to travel the trails a bit, just in case there was some fat chance we might run into the thieves. As it turned out (surprisingly), an hour or so later a guy came casually cruising by on my brother’s bike, so we had to actually throw him off the bike to get the bike back!
“Hey man, that’s not your bike!”
“Uhhh… I bought it from someone under the bridge!”
And with that, the guy pretty much ran off. So we got one of the bikes back, but are still searching for my mountain bike.
“Well… you’ve got to turn it into something positive,” Barry says. “Maybe start a stolen bike tracking business, write about your experiences, there are a lot of things you could do to turn that one around…”
And Barry is right– that’s what is best to do in situations like this. Take the negative and turn it into something positive.
Barry pulls over on the side of the highway and sets me off right next to the Lincoln light rail bridge. We wish each other luck, and I jump out quickly as traffic zips on by us.