For the last week I’d been staying in Mountain Village, a private neighborhood above the town of Telluride, CO. I was brought here under the pretense I’d be provided a fancy studio apartment and daily five-star meals while I busked for throngs of millionaires. Sounds too good to be true huh… The apartment turned out to be minimal and dorm-like, cozy but far from fancy. The food was an offering from a local business owner to buy us dinner at his restaurant, but I’m not the type to take advantage of his generosity and eat there every day. Though it was less than promised, I was still looking forward to the opportunity to be stationary for a week while I caught up on the blog, bike maintenance, and funding.
The setting was almost perfect — the pitch is a beautiful plaza at the base of a ski resort with gorgeous mountains on every side, the air is pure (except for occasional smoke from nearby forest fires) and the women are beautiful. The only thing that’s missing is the people. The Home Owners Association is bringing buskers in to slow down foot traffic in the plaza, but there was practically no one walking around. The place is almost too-exclusive for buskers to make a living in. They claim to host festivals every weekend all summer long, sometimes swelling the regions population to over 13,000. But most of that action happens in downtown Telluride, a town with a culture that developed organically over time. Mountain Village is a result of a bunch of money being injected into the area within a very small period of time. There are massive houses that are vacant 11 months a year, some of them with up to NINETEEN bathrooms. Mountain Village is basically an example of how displays of extreme wealth tend to alienate the rich from the rest of the population. Crystal castles that double as prisons.
A local with a background in film production put together a fantastic mockumentary parody that pretty much nails the story of Mountain Village. It’s hilarious, and very professionally done — I recommend watching it. It also serves as a microcosm for the larger economic inequality that is running rampant in the rest of the world.
When it comes to magic and social interactions, I absolutely love street theater. Given the choice between an indoor gig with a captive audience or a city street, I would much rather turn a sidewalk into a performance space anyone can grab a seat in. It’s so much more exciting, disrupting the social norm of sidewalk interactions, bursting the social interaction bubbles that urban living captures people in. But when it comes to the money side of it, it’s a touchy subject educating an impromptu audience that what you’re sharing with them is worth what’s in their wallets. In settings like up there in Mountain Village, it’s awkward doing hat lines with crowds of 10-15 people, even if they are millionaires. I did receive more $5’s than usual, but in the end I made little over breaking even. Everything was much more expensive in the resort village. At a coffee shop bananas went for $1.50, and a two ounce bag of trail mix was $3.00. I’d love to return there someday, but under the circumstance of being a paid strolling performer so I can focus entirely on providing excellent entertainment, instead of on trying to get the biggest crowd with the fattest wallets. It was a good learning experience. When I’m on trips like this, and in general, I am my own boss. I answer to no one, work where I want, when I want, in a lively and exciting environment. In the future, I will be sure (in writing) that if I am sacrificing that freedom, it’s worth it.
The major upside to the week was exploring the trails around Telluride. The town is situated in the middle of a steep canyon with massive mountains on every side. It was some of the best off roaring I’d experienced in my measly 11 months riding a motorcycle. A lot of the trails were along ridges that if you fell off, you’d likely not be seen again. The more adventure touring I do, the more I am falling in love with the flexibility and the adaptability of this particular type of motorcycling. Riding the kind of bike I do, there are few places I can’t get to. The KLR is known as the “Swiss Army Bike” — it doesn’t do an exceptional job at any single task, but it will do practically everything fairly well. Whether it’s daily commuting, cruising cross-country at 75mph or climbing steep mountain roads in the dirt, it’ll get you there and at a reasonable price. I’ve never rode any other type of bike (except for the little dual-sport I got my motorcycle endorsement on), so I can’t say for sure, but I’ve got a feeling I’ve already found the right bike for me. With my full rig, I can stop anywhere, set up camp, make dinner, and be comfortable.
A main motive for taking this tour was to see where I’d like to live for a few years. Most of my time as an adult has been spent in the NW corner of Washington state, and in New Orleans. Now that I’m getting out and seeing more of what America has to offer, I’m gaining a much better perspective on the places I come from. I didn’t want to settle down some place until I knew it was right for me, but the more I travel, the more I appreciate the geographic diversity of my home state, and the cultural diversity of my southern home away from home.
I’ve been rambling West since leaving Telluride, so the posts may get sparse as the adventure takes priority again. I’m piecing together a preview video for the DVD I’d like to release. Right now though, my primary focus is on developing an audience. Like doing street shows, we need a good crowd before doing the finale. I’ve been working really hard on writing and filming this adventure, and I want to make sure that it reaches the people that would be interested in it.
Here’s a real short clip of some footage I took yesterday up in Gateway Pass, CO as we crossed the border into Utah
This is where you come in — If you know someone that might be interested in the lifestyle of performing magic for a living, someone that might be interested in the sights one might encounter when taking an on/off road motorcycle cross country, someone that might want to hear about what it’s like to dive head first into these two things and the lessons learned along the way, then please, tell them about it. Share the Facebook page, send them a link to this site, mention it in a conversation. I’ve taken a lot of time out of the adventure itself to ensure my family and friends can experience some of it with me. When I finish this tour, I will spend several months editing footage to create a work of art I can be proud of. I want to be sure that when this adventure is put into a single disc, there are people to appreciate it. In a street show, I always give the crowd my very best, but the performer is only as good as the audience. It doesn’t take long, it’s not a big commitment, but through social media and with your help, we can put on a fantastic show. So please, spread the word about that crazy friend of yours that rode round trip cross-country on a dirtbike fueled by magic in his rookie year as a motorcyclist and professional street entertainer.