I was planning on writing about the town of Divide, Colorado on my recent trip to eat dinner with Kristin and her mother, but that was before I discovered the size of the town. Located a bit west of Colorado Springs, Divide basically consists of a gas station, a stop light, and a two story mini-mall. Curious about why a town of this magnitude needs a stop light, I researched the matter at the Teller county library. It turns out the traffic control device was installed in the spring of 1921 as a way of getting people to stop and wander through the inevitably small selection at the local video store.
Most of the residents of Divide drive to the neighboring town of Woodland Park for their consumer needs. A few miles down the road from Divide, this town has its own unique character. The first thing I noticed driving through Woodland Park is the abundance of Conoco / Loaf ‘n Jug convenience stores. I counted a total of four on my way through town. I probably wouldn’t have even noticed except for the fact I drove by two of them that were separated by a small unrelated building. In addition to the many, many occupations I’ve claimed to have no knowledge of in the past, I now must add to the list by saying that I’m not a top level executive at Conoco (or Loaf ‘n Jug for that matter). I just can’t see the logic of placing two of the exact same stores twenty-four feet apart in a small mountain town. I can only theorize this strategy was implemented to cater to the following situation:
A man driving a late model minivan approaches the first Conoco. His wife and two kids are quietly taking in the mountain scenery.
Husband: Well, we have plenty of gas. Honey, do you want to stop for anything at this safe and hygienic Conoco / Loaf ‘n Jug establishment?
Wife: No thanks dear, I think we should just continue on our journey.
Husband: Bobby, Sally, are you two doing okay back there?
Kids: (In unison) Yes dad.
Husband: Great– I’m glad we can spend this quality time together.
And then, 0.0003 seconds later:
Bobby: Dad! Sally threw up on me.
Sally: Dad! I threw up on Bobby. And I have to pee. And I want some candy and soda.
Wife: Your kids need tending to, Jack. And why did you have to drive through that plague of locust? The windshield is a mess! And I need a cigarette. Make that a few.
Husband: Will everyone just SHUT UP for a second? I’m trying to think what to do here. We could turn around and go back to that last Conoco / Loaf ‘n Jug. (Looks at the dashboard) OH CRAP! We are dangerously low on fuel—- we don’t have enough gasoline for a U-turn. We are all going to die!
Wife: (Looks up the road) It is a miracle Jack! There is ANOTHER Conoco / Loaf ‘n Jug just past this building. We are saved!
Husband: Phew! When we get back home I’m going to find the Conoco executive who arranged these convenience stores and give him a big hug.
In addition to the convenience store curiosities, Woodland Park has it’s own unique history. For example, Kristin and I ate lunch at Quiznos. After we ordered our food and sat down to eat, she explained to me how this store front used to be occupied by the Christian Science Reading Room. Kristin just rolled her eyes at my suggestion to combine the two and name it “Sandwiches Good Enough For Jehovah.”
Despite being a quiet mountain town, Woodland Park has an impressive police presence. The ratio of law enforcement officers to civilians is similar to that of a Siberian prison colony. On our way back to Divide, we had the honor of receiving a police escort through town. Things got even more interesting when Kristin threw a cigarette butt out the window. We got pulled over and the officer started off the conversation by saying, “I’m pulling you over because you tossed a lit object from your car. Did you know that is illegal?” He then went on to explain the forest fire danger in the area. While I wanted to discuss the long term dangers of artificial fire suppression, I had a feeling this would not be the optimal time for such a debate.
Kristin, who has no love for the police, didn’t seem to enjoy the conversation very much. To help remember that night, Kristin was given an authentic document from the Teller county police department which gave her two options. She can either pay the thirty-eight dollar fine or be hunted down by attack dogs and officers wearing full riot gear in an ATF training exercise.
After all that, we managed to get back just in time for dinner– which I must say was quite lovely.