Birthday in Breckenridge



This morning I woke up on the sofa, shortly before Felicity appeared to coo and squeak as she does each morning. I was at first too sleepy to understand what was going on, but it was clear that now I’m 37, she has a new respect for the wisdom of her father.

Or she wanted to pull my beard again.

Twelve and a half years ago I went mountain biking in Colorado, staying in a chalet in Breckenridge. Thinking back now, it was ridiculously over the top: vans to drive us everywhere, guided tours of factory outlet malls in between rides, visits to all the most expensive parts of the Rockies. If we’d known what we were doing, we could have done it ourselves much cheaper, but then I was young and dumb(er). I was interested, therefore, to see how Breckenridge had changed in the intervening years.

It’s still just slightly less than two miles above sea level. Obviously it’s colder in December than July, but the thinness of the air didn’t bother me so much back then. I guess I was tougher. Or less exhausted from carrying a baby around.

The main street of Breckenridge is full of expensive shops, mostly selling tourist tat we don’t need. If you’re in Breckenridge, you’re either there for the skiing, or you’ve been dragged there by somebody who is there for the skiing, and the only thing you can think of to occupy yourself is shopping for trinkets, or possibly getting tattooed.

We made our way slowly up the street, stopping every hundred yards for another meal, until we got to a French cafe close to Rasta Pasta, the only Caribbean-Italian fusion restaurant I’ve ever seen. We ate croissants and cream cakes rather than risk the Jerk Chicken Tagliatelli. Then, having got to the top of Main Street, we walked down the other side.

Again, a similar paucity of acceptable shops (I was looking for geegaws for the office) until we found a sweetshop, selling Horehead Candies. Possibly that’s illegal in Singapore, but I bought a tin anyway. I think I was persuaded by the brutal honesty of the shop assistant: when I asked if the Horeheads were any good, she told me nobody buys them. What better recommendation do you need?

The gondola to the bottom of the ski runs is free if you’re not skiing, so we took Felicity up to see the snow. Honestly, if you’re not skiing or snowboarding, there’s not much to see or do up there, so we went back down again and drove back, stopping in Idaho Springs at the unfortunately named Kum & Go filling station, where I needed to use the bathroom.

There was a boy at the other urinal, and after a minute he emitted a plaintive cry, that he needed to wash his hands. I ignored this, because nobody ever speaks to anyone else in a male toilet. Even in Bangkok, for goodness’ sake.

Finishing up, I turned to discover it hadn’t been a small boy, it had been a small boy and an even smaller boy, that had to be lifted to correct urination height by the first boy. When I looked in the mirror to see I was a 1930s matinee villain (wild staring eyes, beard, terrifying yet raffish lock of hair curling across my forehead) I was even gladder I hadn’t engaged them in conversation. I left, bought candy at the Kum & Go, and went.

Returning from Breckenridge, I got my birthday cake in Boulder, a double layered, double chocolate cake festooned with Maltesers. That, along with a book on squid, some strange science fiction, a field guide to feces, a hat and, strangest of all, a pair of wooden tongs to lift toast from the toaster without singeing my fingers, completed this year’s haul of presents. At least in this time zone.

And thus (after counting to one hundred in Spanish to placate Felicity) to bed.


One response to “Birthday in Breckenridge”

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.