Moving to a completely new place should be exciting, especially when one considers all the time, money, and effort that goes into the process from start to finish. I have not moved many times in my life, but each time has been exciting. The first big move was to college. It may have been surrounded by cornfields, but it was college, afterall. Then I moved to Madison, Wisconsin, a beautiful city that I still miss a bit. After a couple years there, I transplanted myself to Boulder, Colorado, the place where so many people seem to want to live. I sure was one of those people, and I couldn't wait to finally arrive. Five and a half years there was great, but I was ready to be somewhere different by the end.
That brings me to January 23, 2012, which finds me sitting on a somewhat ugly couch in a still foreign-feeling room. A few snowflakes are falling on the tall Ponderosa Pines outside the window, and I can't see a single light from any of the neighboring houses. Sticking my head out the door, it's silent. We're renting a place at the bottom of a gulch just outside of town, the town being Prescott, AZ. I actually could throw a stone from this couch across the municipal boundary, so we're just barely outside of town in reality. But it feels far enough when I get up in the morning, eat some oatmeal, and then ride into work. The first obstacle is our driveway, which kicks up the gulch at a 25% grade. That feels great with no warm-up. Then there's a slimy, rutted two-track to navigate before hitting the winding paved descent into town. From, it's just a simple coast right into downtown, past the old post office and courthouse square, and in a couple more minutes I reach campus.
Campus is Prescott College. It's tiny. My office is tiny. The parking lots are tiny. The student body is tiny. The faculty is tiny. I like tiny, so it fits my style well. And I'm good at adapting, which makes dealing with other tiny things, such as libraries and budgets, more manageable. The strange thing, which still feels like some sort of a mix-up, is that I'm faculty here. Professor. Teacher. Guy in charge of a class or two. Kurt. Call me what you like since there aren't really titles here. Anyway, after a decade or three of being a student, I've finally have a real job, and it's in a great town at a neat little college. I'm pretty happy so far, although with the semester only a few weeks away, things are a bit hectic getting two courses off the ground. But that's a story for another day.
Sometimes when I ride up this steep driveway, I get to the top and turn right. The two-track climbs gradually, contouring gently in and out of drainages in a burned area, passing the last few houses in the area, and eventually ducking into the woods. A singletrack cuts off to the right. Pick a new direction. Soon the trail branches. Pick again. Climb steeply. Descent through a rocky gully. Meander through the pines. End on a steep ATV trail.
From these junctions, the decisions are as simple as, "How much time to I have to ride today?", and "Should I go up higher or down into the basin?" After living in Boulder, I'm not used to having such options surrounding town. Or an interconnected network of trails. Or regularly encountering surprisingly friendly people on said trails. Or being able to ride for hours without seeing a "no bikes" sign. So far, my favorite sign has been "This trail is even more technical than the Lakeshore Trail. Take care. Definitely not recommended for bikes." For the record, I laughed quite a bit while riding or attempting to ride that trail. It was great fun.