McDaniel:Spur Puts New Spin on Fabled Dream for a Tourist Trap | Word on the Street
by Douglas McDaniel
Sep 03, 2007 | 272 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Word on the street is you are dressed up along the avenue, which is really one big false- front movie set. You are a character in a larger drama that’s much, much bigger than you. The old courthouse building, propped up by scaffoldings for refurbishment work, looks to you like the courthouse clock in Back to the Future, in this case the episode where they go back to the wild, wild West.

This thought might occur to you as you enter the line of vehicles to get out of town at rush hour, which is not the right term, exactly. It becomes sit hour and you reconfigure your imagination to that, sitting, looking at the clock tower, which is back to the future.

The road in and out of town is now the wagon trail. When the line of cars leading from the courthouse to the Shell station moves, it moves about as fast as a wagon train. But you are sitting behind the Galloping Goose, the interior circuit within Telluride route. It has galloped to stillness, unable to complete its circle through town. It is raining. It is water torture on the windshield. You turn the engine off, sitting there on Colorado Avenue. People are falling out of the Goose, deciding to walk in the rain instead. You sit there, watching SUVs pull out of the line, thus shortening it, but they are caught in a roach motel. Where do they think they are going? Over Tomboy?

You move further, beyond the roundabout, 40 minutes later. Instead, the freshly paved lane of the Spur is billowing steam clouds. It looks like the London bog, Jack-the-Ripper style, or maybe the smoldering ides of Purgatory itself.

Do you think they will hear when you scream?

Then you move a little more and the notion occurs to you that you, back to the future, are on all-too-familiar terrain. Maybe it’s a traffic jam into sunset on Colfax, in Denver, or Indian School Road in Phoenix. That long slow groaning drive into the sun, westward, into the back pain of tail lights and the oblivion of TV, which is all that you’ll have energy for…

Then, you hit a crater in the road, and the Flux Capacitor falls out of the bottom of your vehicle, and you are caught, somewhere in the 19th century, when you wish you could be in the 21st century, floating above it all in the gondola. The car makes a grating sound of clashing metal, a sign of defeat by the unforgiving crucible of the Spur. You pull the car over to assess the damage, parking in the Shell station lot, and look out at the Valley Floor, which you are barely able to notice anymore, because of the construction.

Out of the car, you realize: You can hear the screaming as cars go by. But you are at the edge of Eden now. Fifty million bucks worth of it. An escapist’s dream. You look down, and there it is: A big orange mushroom somehow unpicked from the previous weekend’s Mushroom Festival.

You take a bite and, suddenly, the sound of a John Lennonesque dream vocal echoes inside your brain … Ahhhhhhhhhhh … Ahhhhhhh! Dum de dum de Dump! …

The next thing you know, it’s the next day and there’s good news. The sun is shining and this: The council has decided not to put a bond ballot before the voters for a $10 million continuation of this, this, catastrophe. The town has been spared the usual solution to such problems, more road construction, more paving and more tailings dust billowing from the Valley Floor like the cloud of Custer’s last ride.

This is an exciting prospect: No solution. It lends more to the imagination, really, if you think about it. It’s like, like … Holy Ram Das, Batman: With no solutions, the world is full of possibility. It’s a totally mind-freeing experience!

The normal painful thing, the bond solution and subsequent paving of the west end of the town’s portion of the highway, according to Town Manager Frank Bell, would be 10 times worse than the current work on the east end of the Spur. So, by freeing our minds by not doing it, we surmise, things just got 10 times better, right?

A very exciting prospect, indeed. Now the ideas for alternative solutions can flow and be debated. Short of a continuation of leaving it unpaved so that all of those Hummers and Escalades can do the work they were built for, thus solving Telluride’s parking problem by the mere fact of back-to the-future-old-west-style-ness of inaccessibility, the problem is now to simply understand the link between the words “Spur” and “deterioration.”

A “deterioration” needs a Band-Aid. A giant, imaginary Band-Aid, in this case about three miles long.

One idea out there is a fee-based welcome gate, which in the old days would have been where the sheriff met the cowboys to take their guns. You consider the possibility as cool, mind-freeing, but only if people working at the gates wear cow suits and shake cow bells when you pay the fee to fund a Return to the Future. Yeah! Ring that bell! Ring. Ring. Ring…

A small fee to enter Telluride, or, even better, to leave. Heck, how about both? Two toll troll gates, maybe right there on the courthouse steps, another howdy gate at Society Turn, where the long jam of vehicles begins and ends. Twenty-five cents to get in, one dollar to leave. Seems only fair.

Don’t have a dollar? Now that’s a tourist trap!

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