My buddy Jay, a (more-or-less) Coloradan, advised me that Pueblo was a "weird place." I really didn't know what the heck that meant. On this forth of July I would have the opportunity to figure out what he was talking about.
The ride to Pueblo was breathtaking. For months I had been dreaming about the moment when the Rocky mountains would inch over the horizon. This was that moment. For a full 50 miles I gazed Westward towards the Rocky mountains, watching them grow with each peddle forward. The scenery was becoming desert-like. Dry air hung over sandy hills which were speckled with cactus plants. The scenery was rather unfamiliar to me, being that I was a native of the mid-Atlantic region.
The city's character shone through as soon as we passed the city limits. For the first time since Kansas City I found ethnic diversity. There were many people of Panamerican decent, most noticeably Mexican Americans and Native Americans. We rode past a Spanish-speaking home that was decked out for the fourth and blasting Mexican music. In addition to the music, a heavy scent of marijuana radiated from the backyard. I thought to myself, "Oh yeah, I'm in Colorado." People smoking weed in this state wasn't really a big deal anymore. Despite not being a user of marijuana myself, a part of me was tempted to join the party. These people seemed to be cutting loose for the fourth.
After checking in with our Warm Showers host, we headed downtown. The intersection of Union Street and the Riverwalk seemed to be the epicenter of tourist activity and leisure. It was also where the fourth of July festivities were being held, so we made our way there. As we crossed the bridge spanning the Arkansas River, we noticed three girls sitting on the bridge's wall, dangling their feet over the side. If any of them fell they would have died a pretty gruesome death-the bridge was nearly six stories above the shallow river. As I passed by I inquired about what they were doing. They informed me that they were just hanging out. I asked if they would mind me taking a picture of them just "hanging out". They were cool with it, so I did. I was not used to hanging out like that, but hey, this was Pueblo.
The evening was great. We joined about ten other cyclists to listen to live classical music being performed on the Riverwalk. In a pretty uncoordinated fashion, fireworks began shooting off from the parking garage behind the stage. The situation was kind of comical, the orchestra was playing Looney Toons-esque classical music while "South East Colorado's largest fireworks display" illuminated the sky. I don't know, man. It was kind of like Jay said. It was just kind of weird.
The cyclists we were with were the same ones we had been bumping into over the past week or so. There was a sense that this would be our last time hanging out, so we stretched out the night a bit by passing down Pueblo's neon alley and then getting some coffee. You know, I'm not gonna lie, this weird little place was growing on me.
The next day we took a rest day in Pueblo to prepare ourselves for our looming journey into the Rockies. I suppose we rested enough. We actually had a pretty packed day of writing and grocery shopping, then we stumbled into a round of drinks with our new friend Michael and some folks he had met along the way. This round of drinks morphed into a full on Tuesday night out consisting of sloppers, an encounter with the "chubby Latino" of Warm Showers, "liberal puke" and Diet Coors served in fish bowls. I'll tell you what, I ended up really liking this weird little mountain city affectionately known as "The Blo".