We drove by Dillon’s white wood frame schoolhouse, built in 1883, relocated when the town moved in the early 1960s so Denver Water could create this reservoir, completed in 1963. A new school had been built long before that and the little school became a chapel. It was the church ladies who badgered Denver Water into moving it. Church ladies can move mountains when they set their minds to it. At the reservoir, I imagined the brick-and-mortar school that couldn’t be moved, perhaps still standing under 80 feet of icy water, fish swimming through its classrooms.
Because I know some Spanish, I’m alert to hearing it spoken—usually with little luck at comprehension. “Es que,” one of the kitchen workers begins, and I know she’s explaining or excusing something, but the rest of her sentence is lost in clattering dishware. There’s plenty of español in Colorado mountain towns: kitchen staffs, construction crews, concrete workers and hotel housekeeping personnel all speak it. Americans won’t do those jobs for what they pay. Where do these immigrants live? We scanned a Summit County newspaper with four pages of homes for sale, almost all over a million.
A Frisco salesclerk told us, “Aspen doesn’t want their workers living there. They’re fine with bussing them in. In Frisco we think people who work here should be able to live here. At least we’re trying to build more affordable housing.” She paused, smiling. “For people like me.”
A schedule of book club meetings was taped to the Next Page checkout counter. A group of older women sat in a nook, books in their laps, several of them frowning at the woman who was speaking. Perhaps a difference of opinion about the book, which enlivens discussion.
Next Page is a new bookstore, and we are partial to the second-hand and antiquarian, but Phil told the owner the shop was well-curated, and she beamed. She directed us to a second-hand store in Breckenridge, where we arrived along with another older man who was looking for biographies of artists and found one there. A happy book scouting day for him, nothing for us. So it goes.
Dillon’s Arapahoe Café has kissing pigs on the way downstairs to the pub, where on Wednesday nights, you get $12 burgers and fries, loud music and standing room only. Upstairs is quieter, the BBQ ribs good, the trout average, and we watched people strolling down the four blocks to the reservoir and amphitheater, where a Greenway Bluegrass concert was about to begin.
Our suite was comfortable, quiet, though the lighting in hotel rooms is never designed with readers in mind these days—if it ever was—and even accessible rooms leave some accessibility to be desired. But handicap parking was next to the elevator entrance, and a substantial hot breakfast, good coffee, waited downstairs. Upstairs, a view:
In Dillon, bike and pedestrian paths curve around the reservoir. The morning is exquisitely quiet, the water glazed and people nod, say hello as they pass, a small-town habit my city neighborhood once had but in recent years lost. Dillon is still a small town.
Before bracing to run the I-70 East gauntlet home, we stopped at the reservoir for a last savoring. I walked to the end of the empty dock on that cloudy morning, breathed sweet air, watched a shaft of sunlight mottle its way over a mountain, listened to the quiet.