Eventually, reluctantly, we got up, got dressed, and wandered into town. By this point our breath was crystallizing in the cold air, and our water resistant clothing proved to be not nearly waterproof enough, so we set out to find the only warm, dry place where a nonlocal bum can waste away an afternoon- the local library.
There’s something so content, so comforting, about holing up in a library on a drizzly afternoon. We spent hours perusing the shelves, using the computers, looking through random books scattered on the tables. When that nagging need for lunch finally drove us back outside, the sun had broken through the clouds, casting bright beams of light on the town.
And as towns go, Telluride is about as unique as they come. It is, for sure, a destination resort, bringing in hundreds of thousands of visitors every year to ski the encompassing slopes, or to see an array of music festivals that fill the summer months. But it’s now, in the off-season, that Telluride’s true colors slip through.
In reality, Telluride is a small town - only 1,500 or so full-time residents call it home. But the influx of funds from those who spend lots of money and then leave have afforded them some notable luxuries - a two-story library, all types of restaurants from French bistros to veggie burrito stands, grocery stories filled with both basic and exotic foods, an art museum, two daily newspapers, several bike shops, and a free gondola ride up to a vast network of mountain biking trails. Townhouses line the narrow streets - each one unique in design and architecture. Even the businesses have personality, hidden among the residential structures with only hand-drawn signs to advertise their existence. Residents have all of this and a small town atmosphere nestled against the most gorgeous granite peaks the Rockies have to offer.
Of course, there are drawbacks - namely the tourists, which, as we proved by camping here in late September, are always around. And, at 8,500 feet, winters are long and summers are short. But still, in the midst of the first winter storm of the year, in this unlikely town built on the blood of gold miners and maintained by the decadence of tourists, we actually caught a fleeting glimpse of paradise, wrestled away from the wilderness and gray memories of the city.
We ended our day with a gourmet picnic in the rain and a movie, “The Sunshine State,” ( If you see it at the video store, I highly recommend renting it.) When we left the theater a thin sheet of snow had already settled on the empty streets, and continued to fall from the starless sky. In my mind, I knew that the prospect of going home to a nylon tent in below-freezing weather should be disconcerting, but I didn’t feel that way. I watched those sticky flakes drift from the black oblivion above, and felt peace. I feigned some concern for my survival, but the peace cut deeper, coursing through my veins, deeper and thicker, until I could no longer move, and I slipped into sleep.