Carnes: Vail Valley Vixens do Wolcott
“What the hell is that?”
I don’t know, take a closer look.
“It’s a dead snake (bends down to inspect). AAHHH!!!! It’s not dead! It’s not dead!”
I watched in mock horror as my bride scampered up the hill back toward the road, half-full garbage bag in hand bouncing all the way.
“It hissed at me!”
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Did it rattle?
“No, I don’t think so.”
Well then, you’re fine. Did you get the beer can?
“Screw that can, it can stay there forever for all I care.”
Thus went last Saturday morning just west of Wolcott along U.S. Highway 6, where I was fortunate enough to be invited to join the Vail Valley Vixens for their annual stretch of highway cleanup benefiting the Eagle River Watershed Council’s never-ending challenge to keep our watershed healthy.
It also helps Highway 6 look a bit better, too.
Around 16 Vixens (a local women’s-only cycling club with over 100 members) invited me (a 63-year-old with male genitalia) to join them on their annual quest, and to be perfectly honest, it was something I’ve always thought about doing each spring, yet for 38 springs have always ignored until after the event thinking, “Damn, I should do that next year.”
It reminded me of the days of yore when we could hike up under the chairlifts to find wallets, keys, poles, gloves, beanies, goggles, granola bar wrappers, etc., only along the highway, it’s 99.9% actual trash, and each time I bent down to pick up something, I thought of Halloween and Charlie Brown saying, “I got a rock …”
Dozens of Modelo beer cans, little Fireball shot bottles, empty hot sauce packets, the cover from a “King Arthur” DVD, and one can short of a six-pack of something called “Bud Light Clamato,” which I didn’t even know existed in this world and would have died just as happy without such knowledge.
Anyway, we were like kids on an Easter egg hunt with a trash bag or the media responding to the latest insane remark by an attention-starved politician, as any shiny object received our immediate focus, even when it was deep inside a thick bush or copse of dead tree limbs.
I would use a stick to reach as far in as possible, which reminded me of reaching for errant golf balls (an act I am very well acquainted with), and come hell or high water was dead set on retrieving the glistening garbage.
On the plus side, for the first hour, I only came across a single cigarette butt, which given our mountain’s penchant for summer fires was a good sign, and ended the morning with only four total butts (insert your own immature joke).
At one point a truck stopped and a man with a large camera emerged, and lo and behold it was a Vail Daily photojournalist taking a picture of the Vixens as they diligently cleaned the roadside.
That was a nice and unexpected surprise, and I did my honest best to stay out of the picture, regardless of what some of you evidently think.
It was a fun and satisfying event, and on our loop back to the car we did indeed pick up the snake-protected beer can.
Only it was from a safe distance, using a very long stick.
Richard Carnes, of Avon, writes weekly. He can be reached at email@example.com.