by Sarah Holdt
Mountain Strong. That’s the new mantra for Estes Park.
I like it. It expresses our resilience, our community fortitude, our united front, and our—uh—buoyancy. Mountain Strong doesn’t come across as a promotion, as a spotlight on commerce or a branding term. It’s not meant for outsiders, visitors, magazine ads or billboards. It’s for us. Mountain Strong is our own way of saying that, as neighbors and friends, nothing’s gonna bring us down. It’s something we can say to each other and know that we each get it—like an inside joke, except that it’s not a joke. It’s you and me and the guy down the street (or river, as it may be) and the shop owner downtown, linking arms as if in a game of Red Rover, and nothing can break through. Mountain Strong!
Part of what makes us strong is our ability to face adversity with a little levity. Of course the damage to our fair town, the days and days of rain and darkness and despair, is nothing to laugh at. Yet there are glimmers of light that float past at just the right moment, bringing a brief bit of comic relief to our drenched days.
• The town was quiet early Tuesday morning, except for the rumble of heavy equipment scraping mud off our streets. As I walked downtown I couldn’t help but note the irony in the name of a nice gift shop on Elkhorn: the Twisted Drifter. I wish it had been open because the merchandise in the window looked inviting. I made a promise to myself to stop in again in a few days. Elkhorn Avenue opened just a few hours later. Mountain Strong.
• As I said, it was early. The coffee shops were sealed and sand bagged so the usual caffeine consumers were not out and about. Shops were shut, windows were darkened with mud, streets were empty, but by golly, the Dermody Village Barbershop barber’s pole continued to spin, slowly twirling its never-ending red and blue stripes around and around. Mountain Strong.
• Along with every other store on the main drag, Big Red of the Rockies was closed, yet a bright neon sign remained lit up. “Husker Apparel” it said. After Nebraska’s sorry loss to UCLA last Saturday, it’s no wonder they wanted to rid themselves of their Big Red clothing. Never fear, football fans, the Huskers will be back. Like my dad said, “They always lose the first four games of the season. Then they give everybody raises.” And then they start winning—sometimes. The Nebraska Cornhuskers are not Mountain Strong. But Estes Park wouldn’t be Estes Park without at least one Big Red store, and that’s part of the character that makes us Mountain Strong.
• Of Poppy’s/Mama Rose’s fame, Rob Pieper posted a photo of a clean-up crew scooping silt away from in front of his and Julie’s restaurants. His caption: “Beach party!” Rob is one of the most positive influences in this community. If anyone is Mountain Strong around here, it’s Rob Pieper.
• Former Estes resident Tim, now managing to stay afloat in Longmont, was riding his bike around the Twin Peaks golf course when he saw a surge of water coming across the field. Just in front of the surge was a horde (the official name) of field mice, scrambling to stay ahead of the wall of water chasing them. They reached the curb and couldn’t get out of the water, so Tim scooped them up over the curb and saved their little mice lives.
Now, I’m no big fan of field mice. In fact, I would never go out of my way to save one, let alone a whole horde of them. But owls need to eat, and I’m very fond of owls, so this story is endearing from an owl’s perspective. Save the mice; save the owls. Mountain strong.
• I never knew there were earthworms in Estes Park, figuring the ground is too dry, rocky and hard for them here. But after the deluge, I saw gobs (not the official name. The official name is “clew”) of worms wiggling on sidewalks just like back in the Midwest. Up until now, where in earth have they been? (ooo, really bad, Thunker. Mountain weak!) I thought about saving all of the washed up worm I saw and taking them home to my so-called garden before they dried up into flat, crispy S’s. But if I won’t save a field mouse, why would I spare an earthworm?
• In the game of golf, sand traps and bodies of water are called “hazards.” When you look at a picture of number 17 after Niagara Falls relocated to the 18-hole golf course, you’ll see that “water hazard” has taken on a whole new meaning. We’re all going to have to improve our swing to make it over the newly improved river. Mulligan strong.
The Estes Park community is sending positive energy to all of our friends who have been displaced, especially those who live along the Fish Creek (now called Fish River) corridor. Many of us want to help, and help some more. Please let us. Only when we band together are we mountain strong.
You may let The Thunker know what you think at her e-mail address, firstname.lastname@example.org.