Cortez, Colorado – Mike the headless chicken

A headless chicken made Fruita famous. The poultry survived its own beheading for 18 months. Macabre in any case, cruel perhaps, but certainly no joke. The cock became well-known and travelled all over the country. The slaughtering for dinner on a fall day 1945 didn’t work as exactly as planned. After decapitation a main part of the brain stem was preserved to keep the main bodily functions like heartbeat, breathing, and digestion. The rooster even ran around, he didn’t know that he lost his head. He was fed with a pipette. After his death the University of Utah in Salt Lake City carried out an autopsy of the cock and confirmed his authenticity.

A memorial for Mike the headless chicken stands on the opposite side of Joshua’s new project. He is building a theatre together with a friend. The event stage shall offer local artists a forum – no matter if it’s music, reading, or performance. The friends want to bring life and turnover into the obsolete and deserted downtown. This is an ambitious, idealistic and beautiful plan. Then it’s time to say goodbye to Josh as well who heroically bore us in front of his house and in his workshop for two weeks. But a part of his work will accompany us on our journey.

Since we know the area very well it isn’t easy to find a route we haven’t seen yet. But here it is, at least in some parts. Hwy #50 and #550 bring us via Montrose and Ridgway over the 2.735 m / 8970 ft high Dallas Divide. Once more we cross San Juan Mountains. Hwy #145 nearly parallels the Million-Dollar-Highway that fascinated us weeks ago. Lizard Head Pass, 3.116 m / 10,222 ft high, is similar. A thick soft snow layer that glitters in the sunshine covers the alpine scenery. The road is dry, and the snow pushed to the side of the road has still the colour it came from the sky. Some skidoo drivers race happily around.

We reach the rest area close to Mesa Verde NP in the evening. Exactly two months ago, on November 12th, a highway patrol officer allowed us to stay here overnight. Shouldn’t this be valid for tonight as well?

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