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A decade to remember

April Clark
Staff Photo |

At this time 10 years ago, my life was about to do a 360.

I had no idea where the new direction I was pointed would take me.

A decade later I can say I was headed for a wild ride I would have never anticipated. In 2003 — what sounds like an eternity ago — I spent my first Fourth of July rafting on the Colorado River through State Bridge and camping under the stars. I had just made the move of a lifetime to Carbondale from Indianapolis, where I was born. The furthest I had lived from home was West Lafayette, Ind., where I went off to college. I didn’t know much about Colorado other than the stories my parents had told me from their travels to the state.



Let’s just say there was some culture shock.

The first thing I noticed when I came to Colorado was that I was not so tough. I hadn’t really been all that adventurous in my adult life up until then. I had been skiing in Tahoe and went cliff diving in Brookville, Ind., at the old quarry filled with water, but that was about the extent of it.



I quickly learned I needed to get out more.

Sure, I had been a Girl Scout as a kid so I knew what a poison ivy leaf looked like. I at least had that going for me. I quickly learned that this wasn’t Indiana anymore.

And I needed to trade in my girly ruby slippers for a pair of Chaco sandals.

The first outdoor activities I encountered were rafting and camping. I learned from an experienced group of rafters lingo like Shoshone Bombs, bony and highside. There was no time for fear. And no rest for the weary. I was living out west for the first time in my life, so that was expected. I will always remember that summer of so many firsts I can barely recall them all.

That’s what an extra 10 years of life will do.

Since I’m celebrating 10 years in the Centennial state, I figure I should reminisce about the last decade. These 10 years have molded me in ways only a major life change can. There are many people who have been part of it all, too, and I’ll never forget those who made life so spectacular.

You know who you are.

It’s safe to say I grew some chest hair rafting. The first activity I ever did outside here still has to be one of the most exciting thrills I’ve experienced in Colorado. I’m extremely lucky to call the Roaring Fork Valley — where rivers run through it — home. And for anyone who is part of the whitewater culture here, they know we are blessed to have so much fun outside at our fingertips. Camping comes in a close second.

Thank you, Mother Nature.

Last month I attended the Strawberry Days festival in Glenwood and was reminded of how much I love my role as a columnist and reporter. Since my column mug started running in the paper eight years ago, I was immediately recognized as “the girl from the paper.” Now I can hardly go to the grocery store without running into someone who knows me as that, and it’s an honor.

Even when I’m not wearing any make-up.

Many of the memories I’ve made in the last 10 years revolve around the paper, and I am ever-so grateful. Five years ago, when the gas prices were crazy high, Ken Brinkley, whose 22-year-old son Levi Brinkley was one of the Storm King 14 firefighters who perished, approached me about the anniversary of his son’s death. I had met him the year prior, at the trailhead of the Storm King Trail. The next year he couldn’t swing the gas to drive out and hike in memory of his son so he asked me to do it. Armed with tons of water and a small bottle of Jagermeister, I hiked up to Levi’s memorial on July 6, and we had a drink together, per his dad’s request. I felt a special connection with Levi because we would have been the same age.

I’ll always remember Levi and the other brave 13 in his crew.

I am pretty convinced I would not be a comic, and especially a burlesque stage star, if I hadn’t found myself in this creative valley. This is a place of performers, dancers, singers, comics and whatever talent that can be dreamed up. The Viva La Woman! Burlesque troupe just had our third year of sold out shows, and we love having that much fun on stage for the crowds. I am so happy to know the special group of multi-talented ladies in Carbondale who know how to bring it.

Whether it’s been through tap dancing at a burlesque show or hiking on July 6 in memory of the Storm King 14, my decade here in Colorado has been almost like a dream. I can only hope the next 10 years of my life bring so many wonderful people and experiences my way.

Even if it’s a complete 360.

— April E. Clark is hoping to celebrate the Fourth of July where she is the happiest, on the river. She can be reached at aprilelizabethclark@gmail.com.


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