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Taking a Break

After a year, I’ve just finished my first novel. The work went quickly as I already had thirty pages written ten years ago when returning from Alaska. I’d lived a year in Anchorage where I began a work of fiction, but life got in the way and the partial novel was put aside and mostly forgotten.

With publication last December of my first book, a military history, I was leaning toward doing another, but my brother convinced me to branch into fiction, so I dusted off the old manuscript. That was twelve months ago.

Now that the writing is done, I took off several days with family to enjoy fall weather in Colorado. We stayed in an Airbnb northwest of Buena Vista on a hillside above the road with spectacular views of the mountains. The first snow had fallen the week before, but none remained except on the peaks. There were flurries one evening which didn’t last and the wind was especially strong all day, rattling the rooftops and shrieking around chimneys.

After getting settled, we went into Buena Vista where the Arkansas River is a narrow stream on the east side of town. We hiked the “bridge-to-bridge” trail on the rocky hillside overlooking the river, not quite a mile in length, used by mountain bikers and runners. Although short, the hike was rigorous, meandering around boulders, making steep hops over short rises, and dropping sharply on the other sides. The trail prepared us for a longer excursion the next day in the afternoon when we travelled to nearby Interlacken Lake, site of a nineteenth century resort. We arrived at a gravel parking area, reading the historic marker before taking the trailhead into the trees and hiking on a serpentine path along a ridge above the lake, pummeled by wind gusts chopping the water. Large waves curved into the gravely shore in steady progression just below the hillside where we walked through a forest of conifers and aspens with patches of un-melted snow. It was only deeper in the woods and further along the ridge that the full extent of the lake could be seen. It was wide and beautiful, a blue expanse reflecting azure skies, making sharp contrast with nearby mountains.

The trail was rugged, beaten down and worn from frequent use, winding over knolls, through washouts, around stones and tree roots, leading to the former hotel, a boarded-up log building five miles ahead. But we never got there. It was cold on the trail, in the mid-forties with a stiff wind increasing the chill and when we came to the clearing at the halfway point, we turned back. The return walk seemed shorter, as it always does, and we were soon warming in the car and headed back to our Airbnb, dubbed “Happy Haus” by the owner, an appropriate name based on our experience. Thanks to the Smith family for the amenities provided and for gracious accommodations.

The next day we made the scenic drive back to the Denver airport, facing the unpleasantries of current air travel. But I was soon back home, refreshed from the break and eager to get back to work. I had a novel that needed published, and the way looked bright ahead.

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