How long since Sunny Jim’s Sugary Confectionery was still alive? On the fading sign: the lapping tongue of a happy sun. Go past the wooden howling wolf and the old van with the SPY sign in the back window. Gigantic Sale! forever, painted red on the side of abandoned Blake’s jewelry. Past tense of a jewelry store. Route 34 travels through a faux old ghost town recently made genuine. A run-down rotting saloon (what does it look like on the inside?). This road has everything. There are rustic river cabins with kitchenettes, all up and down the Big Thompson River, but no vacancy anywhere. Old fishing cabins boarded up or not boarded up but equally decrepit. RVs packed ten deep in a sanctioned parking lot, looking like fiberglass bungalows. An old RV queen waters the red geraniums hanging from her windstar’s retractable awning. High granite and iron rocks rise on all sides, acting like guardians although they could be very destructive and have been in the past. Wearing patches of green lichen as bright as burning matches. A road that has been won and lost. Home of current and former confectionaries, continual cheap cabins and souvenir stands. There’s an espresso shack so small it could be Snoopy’s house. A “trading post” selling three t-shirts for $8.
A little later the rocks trail off, the river changes course, moves away, and suddenly there is the shining star of Carl’s Junior.