In 2007, I took up a new hobby: crusing the countryside on a rented Harley. That foray into Harley riding and leather duds has turned into an annual gathering of guys. Last year ten of us hit the trail to Vail. About a week ago, five of us took off for Estes Park. This time out, retired Major Leaguers Dave Dravecky (Padres, Giants), Frank Pastore (Reds, Twins), Tim Burke (Expos, Mets, Yankees), joined Mark Stapleton, a businessman from Nevada, and myself for a ride to remember.
I’d have to say that this was the most scenic road trip to date. There were green valleys like I have never seen and the snowcapped mountain peaks filled the reservoirs and rivers chalk full.
For what it’s worth, we followed Highway 67 alongside a rambling river, picked up Highway 285 South into Fairplay, then ran adjacent to the breathtaking Blue River on Highway 9 through Breckenridge; the river was running fast, brimming with Rocky Mountain high country water. We continued past through the little town of Kremmling then rumbled along Highway 40 East toward Estes Park.
An unusual thing happened as we crested Trail Ridge Road at about 11,750 feet in the heart of the Rocky Mountain National Park. Approaching the peak, we were confronted with a dense cloud bank which required us to drive through a cloak of gray mist for about a half-mile. It was amazing. I could only see a few feet in front of the Road King. Each guy entered this wall of clouds and then would disappear as if abducted by a UFO. It was eerie. One by one we were swallowed up into the cloud; it was several minutes before we reached a clearing—only to find a new challenge awaiting us.
As we started down the eastern slope for the final push to Estes Park, we hit a severe thunderstorm. One lightening strike was close enough to cause all five of our heads to duck down below the windshields of the bikes in unison. I imagine to an outsider it looked like a choreographed dance. Shortly thereafter, we arrived in Estes Park and ate the biggest Mexican food meal we could find. Fish taco’s for me!
Glad to be inside before the inclement weather turned nasty, we spent the night in Estes Park at the Best Western Silver Saddle Hotel. That evening our discussions were the kind of conversations I thrive on. We talked about God, God, and more about God. We tackled the purpose of life, the brokenness of this journey, and the things we’re learning at this stage of our lives as husbands, fathers, and men of faith.
The other fun part was hearing insider stories about these guys and their pitching careers in the Major Leagues. Frank Pastore shared about his first start as a rookie pitcher. He happened to be throwing to Johnny Bench—yes, the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Famer.
Being full of confidence, Frank began to ignore Mr. Bench’s pitch signals. This didn’t sit well with Johnny Bench who promptly called “Time out!” and then headed to the mound. He said, “Rookie, you throw what I tell you throw, got it?” Frank said, “Yes, sir.”
You gotta love a rookie!
The next day, we loaded up and headed south on Highway 7 into Boulder and then Golden. For much of the day, an approaching storm nipped at our heels. Purely God’s mercy kept us just slightly ahead of it. While the hum of the engine is no longer ringing in my ears, I carry with me memories of God’s incredible creation and the gift of having spent time with men who share my same passion for the Savior.