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In the afternoon sun of North Park, we had paused along the Michigan River for one last interview, the sun glinting off the snow on the Medicine Bow Range in the background. Then we began the three-hour drive to Denver. Darkness caught up with us by Granby and by Winter Park even a full moon peeking over the Continental Divide wasn’t captivating enough to command our attention.

So we started playing games.

In Walden, we had driven past the courthouse for Jackson County. The next county to the west is Routt, for which Steamboat Springs serves as county seat. Cathy tried to remember what the next county was.

Geography is my first calling. I can be full of the sort of information that to most people is totally useless. Flying on planes, many people close their windows, having no interest in what lies below. I have my nose to the plastic at all times. And I am, above all else, a Colorado guy. I know this state..

I tried to give Cathy hints, but it wasn’t working. “Moffat,” I finally explained. “Craig is the county seat.”

Could I name all 64 Colorado counties? I did, although I had to be reminded there was a county northwest of Golden. (Gilpin! I replied), but I struggled to remember the name of the county where Cripple Creek is (Teller, named after a U.S. senator). And then I struggled to identify the 6th county in the San Luis Valley. (Take your vitamins and minerals, Cathy had coaxed. Ah—Mineral, and the county seat is Creede).

Cathy was impressed. So then we tried naming all 50 states. And then the order of the presidents (I struggled after Jackson) before we tried the first 20 elements of the Periodic Table (I got a C- in chemistry, and it shows to this day), the geologic eras (we both could have done better), and, as we emerged from Clear Creek Cañon into Golden, the suburbs of Denver.

It makes the miles fly, at least on an hour-long drive. Not sure it would suffice on a drive to Los Angeles. — Allen Best, Oct. 23, 2021

Postscript: This posting was amended after it was pointed out by a former Cripple Creek resident, Rod Proffitt, that the county was named after Sen. Edward Teller.



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