Who turned on the heat?

Big Elk @ StanleyESTES PARK, Colo. – So I’m sitting at the tables closest to the door in Kind Coffee – my favorite coffee shop ever – with a view of the burbling Big Thompson River and the bundled up locals traipsing up Elkhorn Avenue for the October sidewalk sale with all sorts of thoughts running wild:

“Is the baseball season really over?”

“Man, I can’t believe I made that drive from Denver at 1 a.m.”

“This coffee is so #$&*@% good!”

“I can’t believe I’m in Estes Park in October and it’s 35 degrees… it’s 90 degrees in Lancaster and Philly.”

“It’s hard to believe that Colorado is on the same planet as Philadelphia.”

“Hey! Look… elk!

“That guy is wearing a funny hat. I wonder where he got it?”

You get the idea. It goes on and on and on like this – sometimes for days.

Anyway, if I had to guess, I’d say that I slept for seven hours since waking up on Saturday morning to go to the airport in Philadelphia. That part stinks because sleep is vital. If one gets the proper amount of sleep (and a little bit extra just for fun), there is no need to inject silliness like HGH into one’s bloodstream.

Be that as it may, I’ve been infused with a steady stream of coffee since arriving out here at noon (local time) on Saturday. From the airport I went to the ballpark and watched the Phillies’ season come to an end. When that ended and I turned the ignition on my car at 1:01 a.m., I drove to Estes Park.

On the way to Estes, I saw exactly four cars on the final 36 miles of the drive after exiting I-25. I was convinced an elk or coyote was going to jump out of the thick, inky blackness of the night and into the path of my car.

Instead it was just cold and windy.

Get this: when I left Philadelphia it was 90 degrees and foggy, but when I woke up on Sunday morning it was 35 degrees and windy with a few snow flurries dancing about. By 1 p.m. it was 55 degrees with a gentle breeze and the sunniest and bluest skies anyone will ever see.

ANYWAY, one of my goals in Estes Park was to spend the morning at Kind Coffee, which is where I started writing this, as well as Sunday’s (or Monday’s… I lost track) reprisal of the Phillies’ season. Check it out by clicking here.

Another goal was to see if there were more elk meandering about town than during the summertime.

Here’s how it worked out:

As far as the coffee joint went, I made it to Kind Coffee three times in less than 16 hours of which four were spent sleeping. As mentioned above, I started writing this post from the table nearest the door with a full view of the Big Thompson River flowing within spitting distance. To the table to my right sat a bearded, 27-year old seasonal employee of the National Park Service, who was discussing his existential crisis with an attentive and patient young lady. I know all of this because I heard the conversation as if I had snapped on the TV and was just listening to it as background noise. As I tap-tap-tapped away, waxing on about Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins and Jamie Moyer, the young man described how he was ready to retire and was sick of seasonal jobs, though he was not at all interested in working in an office where he might have to sit in a cubicle all day under set, rigid hours.

He also didn’t want to have to spend the rest of his life working only to retire and find out that he didn’t make enough money or invest properly.

Join the club, buddy. And save as much of your fire watching money as possible now – sell that top-of-the-line iMac on eBay… better yet, stay away from anything that has a small letter in front of a capital letter. That type of [stuff] is expensive. Better yet, start buying Folgers at the Safeway up the hill. Buying that Kind Coffee every day adds up.

Trust me.

Famous last words, huh?

The StanleyAs far as the elk meandering about goes, I thought there would be more, though there were a bunch just chillaxing near the Lake Estes trail as well as a big ol’ buck and his brood hanging out behind the Stanley Hotel.

Oh yeah, I also bought a weird hat that no one else likes. In fact, my sister doesn’t even like it and she’s a bit odd (eccentric?).

To shorten this up a bit, the trip was too short. All of it. Time in Colorado is always much too short, and the Phillies’ run in the playoffs was almost criminally short. I realized this as I drove past Coors Field on Sunday night and saw that it was all dark. I said out loud: “Hey, this would be about the time the first pitch would be thrown.”

I’m going to dig into the off-season this afternoon, where I’ll attempt to offer what we could expect from the club this winter. Stay tuned for that. In the meantime, here’s what I was writing for this site when Jeff Baker singled off J.C. Romero with two outs in the eighth inning on Saturday night at Coors:

Game 3 of the NLDS has really heated up and, yes, we mean that metaphorically. Heading into the eighth, the Rockies have turned it over to funky lefty Brian Fuentes, who whiffed Jimmy Rollins, got Chase Utley to fly out harmlessly to left, and then struck out Pat Burrell to end the inning.

To punctuate the feat, Fuentes gave a strong fist pump with his left hand and a little leg kick.

But Burrell nearly had Fuentes hanging his head. His long, loud foul ball started its flight looking like it was going to land in the seats for a homer, but instead turned out just to be strike two.

The Rockies sent the meat of their order up against Tom Gordon in the eighth. Gordon started his second inning against Matt Holliday, Todd Helton and Garrett Atkins up.

I’m betting that J.C. Romero will face Helton…

And here comes Charlie with his lineup card to pull off a double-switch. Romeo to face Helton, Jayson Werth to left to replace Burrell. I imagine Charlie will use Brett Myers to face the righty Garrett Atkins even if Romero doesn’t retire Helton.

Uh… oops.