The Great Outdoors. The Outdoors. Great. I’ve always had trouble with the idea. To me, the outdoors was a scary place full of sharp objects and shin scrapes, a wide open ghost-train of heights and foul smelling things that stung. This opinion was completely natural and right and just. Until well into my teens I couldn’t see how any alternatives could possibly exist.

But they did and they do. Certain amongst my acquaintances began, by gosh, to prefer the outdoors. They relished the space and the clean air and the heights. I never considered the stings and scrapes but they probably enjoyed those too. I didn’t understand, couldn’t understand this in-fucking-mental worldview and the warped minds behind it. The idea of affixing yourself to the side of a mountain without having to scream, alphabetically, every curse in the English language was a concept too far; an adventurous Fermat’s Theorem.

My last encounter with The Great Outdoors was not, for want of a better word, exemplary. During my most recent jaunt in foreign climes I was volunteered for a spot of mountain biking. An outdoorsman I am not but even small children can ride a bike when the need arises. Possessing skills marginally above those of the your average 5 year old I decided the cardio was worth it. Fast forward half an hour however and you’ll find me hanging from a 40 foot drop, taut irrigation hose in one hand, freshly battered bike in t’other. I may also have been shouting for help. Masculinely. It was with this tragic image and the gutwrenching terror it inspired fresh in my travel-addled mind I arrived in Boulder, outdoors capital of the USA.

So far, so good. No shrieking falls, no light bruising of cartilage. I’ve completed two hiking trails and have resorted to shuffling on my bum only once. Unfortunately this once was in an area heavily populated by cacti, but the spines were fairly easy to tweeze. Besides the worrying abundance of sports equipment shops the scenery is truly stunning, with panoramas ripped straight from, well Panorama were they doing a Special on massively impressive panoramas. Lots of rocks and trees. The occasional elk. Staying with tried and true locals has made the experience all the nicer too: Greenham and Olivia have been ridiculously accommodating and extremely understanding of my athletic shortcomings, even going so far as to introduce me to their friends. They were less forgiving and several nicknames have already arisen. Clumsy McPratfall. Instability Godwin. Baron Breathless von Liability, brevity not being a Boulder trait. Nice group. Healthy.

But my first weekend has been lovely. There was walking and fishing and beer drinking and eating. There has also been sitting and writing and reading and browsing. The change of pace initially brought on a life threatening cold and a throat sorer than a giant’s metatarsals, but my body is slowly acclimatising to both the altitude and attitude. It really is quite lovely.

Now to concentrate on not killing myself on a path somewhere.


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