Adventures from Back of Beyond

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Extreme Fourth of July in Telluride

Seems everything is extreme in Telluride.

The stunning landscape certainly is extreme. The town sits within a steep, glaciated box canyon, surrounded by the highest concentration of 13,000 and 14,000 foot peaks in the continental U.S. Waterfalls cascade into the canyon from basically every direction. The crystal clear San Miguel river courses through the bottom, adjoining the small, historic town.

The best part about Telluride to me, though, is the people. They also are, in their own way, extreme. In a good way.

Everything they do, collectively, is quality. Extreme quality. Also extreme character, edgy. Sort of an Aspen with a rough-hewn Hippie persona.

Last year we stumbled into the remarkable memorial for Captain Jack. This year, without knowing what we were getting into, we stumbled into Telluride's Fourth of July festivities.

That town really knows how to put on a Fourth of July celebration. Extreme.

Everything is organized, run by, and benefits the local volunteer fire department. Starts off at precisely 6:00 a.m., when the fireman blow up a stick of dynamite to wake everyone up. This is, as I understand it, a tradition that goes back a century, honoring the mining heritage of the town.

I was looking forward to hearing the blast echo and reverberate through the relatively narrow canyon, in the cool, quiet morning air. And sure enough, right at 6, ka-boom. However, that was followed, over the next 10 minutes or so, by at least another dozen or so blasts, with the last one being the largest. It's booms lingered awhile. I enjoyed every minute.

Then the parade rolls out at 11:00. We situated ourselves at the stately courthouse, located right in the middle of town, where the judges are. The parade entries stop and play or perform tricks for the judges at that point.

Quirky is a good description for the Telluride parade. Anyone can be in it. There were kids on bikes, kids in strollers. Dogs of all types. (Telluride is a very dog-friendly town).

One parade entry was an anti-women's lib group, protesting how the women's liberation movement had set back good old-fashioned male chivalry. These ladies missed having doors opened for them by gentlemen.

At one point a guy yelled out for the judges, "don't trust the government!" That was the sum total of his performance.

But the big finale of the parade absolutely blew us away. The Colorado Air National Guard flew 4 F-16 jets right over the town, and I mean low, well below the rims. The fighters screamed through town, right over Colorado Ave (the main street), the jet engine's incredible roar echoing off the canyon walls. Seconds later, faced with a near 90 degree 13,000+ foot mountain, the jets pulled straight up like a rocket ship and rolled. Awesome.

Like most everyone, we then headed to the Town Park, where the firemen put on a big bbq picnic lunch. Chicken, roast beef, corn on the cob, potato salad. All good.

Once it got pitch black dark, the firemen lit off thousands of fireworks, a good hour's worth. But these were unlike any fireworks I've experienced. It wasn't just the magnificent canyon location, nor just the massive reverberating booms echoing off the canyon walls.

It was the fact that the fireworks exploded directly overhead. Ashes and bits of cardboard shells rained down on us. It seemed we were almost inside the fireworks as they expanded over us in their bright multi-hued colors.

This was an extreme Fourth of July.


  • I've left a comment about your Tuesday april 10th 2007 blog. If you want to follow it up then leave a reply.



    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:28 AM  

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