(July, 1995 to December, 1998?) When Rocky and first arrived in Colorado, we stayed with our friend, Mary. I first met Mary during High School, even though she went to Wheeling High School and I went to Hersey High School. My family lived on the border of the two High School bus routes so I had a choice of which one to attend. My two older brothers and two older sisters had attended Hersey so I chose it, even though nearly all of my friends and neighbors would be attending Wheeling. My brother had dated Mary for awhile and that's how I met her.
Rocky and I lived in several places around the Denver area. We lived right next to "Alfalfa's" Health Food Store where I got a job. It took me 30 seconds to walk to work. I brought home lots of food while I worked there, including a regular supply of Chicken Kiev's and Cordon Bleu's. There were two good bars within a half block of our apartment where we regularly met Mary for drinks. We also lived in "Aspen Towers" on the 12th floor. The Penthouses were on the 13th floor but we had been up there for a few parties and preferred our apartment to the penthouses. The penthouses had a wood burning stove in the center of the living room that took up too much space and provided a burn hazard. Our friend, Tony, moved in with us for awhile at Aspen Towers. Our balcony overlooked the Denver skyline and Rocky Mountains behind it. It was a great view. We chose that particular apartment so we could watch Comet Hale-Bopp as it passed near earth. Our view of the Comet was spectacular.
Rocky and I would literally place a random finger on a map of the mountains to select where we wanted to visit on the weekends. We ended up in some pretty cool places. On Thanksgiving 1997, we kept with tradition from the previous year and ate at Denny's. Then we headed for Crestone where UFO's had been reported only days earlier. We ended up traveling across a high road that was cut through the rock (the walls on both sides of us were 20 or 30 feet high). The road dead ended where a train tressel once was. It had gotten dark so we pitched our tent there. It got so cold that both Rocky and I were convinced that we were going to literally freeze to death overnight. We had a tiny propane heater that didn't help at all. When we woke up alive the next morning (to our surprise), we discovered that we had pitched the tent only a few feet away from a cliff that dropped at least 500 feet straight down. The town of Buena Vista was located in the valley beyond the bottom of the cliff.
We then proceeded to The Great Sand Dunes of the San Luis Valley. These 700 foot high dunes apparently contain more gold than has been extracted in the whole of human history. We pitched a tent in the Valley. Within an hour or two, 10 inches of snow fell. Then the winds kicked up. It became so windy that neither of us could leave the tent without the other blowing away. It finally dawned on us that these 700 foot high dunes were due to the wind and sand as it blew across the San Luis Valley (the largest valley in Colorado).