We all have that crazy friend who makes us a little nervous when they party. Usually I am that guy, but I have one of them too. His name is Anton and he is Russian. This story took place in June of 2015. I was going back to New Mexico to see my parents. I remembered I had a companion fare so I asked Anton, who was my roommate at the time, if he wanted to go check out New Mexico. I added we could go to Colorado too. He had never been to either place and agreed to tag along. Several people joked that I was taking him to meet my parents. While technically true, we are just friends. I like the ladies!
Some background on Anton. He is known for claiming outlandish things when he is drunk. Things ranging from having incurable diseases to how he used to be in the Russian mafia. There are many more examples but those ones stand out. I met him when I moved to Alaska in 2004. The first time we met he told me he had a kid in Russia from a German girl he met while backpacking in Europe. I believed this for a long time, probably like 6 months. Once when I was talking to a mutual friend I said how cool it was Anton was here going to school and supporting his kid. The guy was like, “What kid?” I said, “His son back in Russia.” He went on to inform me that was untrue and that Anton likes to mess with people. I later coined the term “Full Anton.” This can be applied to anyone who is going absolutely fucking nuts. Like, “Oh shit, he is about to go Full Anton!”
Heading to Durango
So we get to Albuquerque, New Mexico. This is June so it is very hot. The plan was to hang out for a few days and then drive up to Durango to chill out and ride the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. This is an old steam train that goes up in the mountains and ends in Silverton, CO where you spend a few hours, and then ride back. We left Albuquerque and headed to Durango, this drive takes about 4 hours.
We arrived in Durango on a beautiful sunny day. We checked into the hotel and spent some time checking out Durango. If you have not been there it is one of the coolest old mountain ski towns in Colorado. We turned in early as we had to be up early for the train, it was leaving at 9 am. We woke up early and headed to the train station. We checked in and boarded the train, ready for a day of fun. We were in a cool open car that allowed for some awesome views. It was around a 3 hour ride to Silverton. This is where it all started…
Silverton sits at 9,300 feet (2,800 meters). Elevation never bothered me, I can’t say the same for Anton. We walked to a restaurant to get some lunch. Anton immediately began displaying the effects of altitude sickness. He really went downhill pretty fast. I told him he just needs to relax and he will feel better when we get back to Durango, which sits at 6,500 feet! The train ride back was not as fun for Anton. I, however, was having an awesome time sipping back Old Fashioned’s and talking to the fellow passengers, who were all quite a bit older. Anton and I were definitely the youngest ones on the train. By the time we got back to Durango, everyone on the train knew me.
One Night in Durango…
We arrive back in Durango. Anton is feeling a bit better. We got to a cool rooftop bar with a live band and lots of people. We actually met a cool Aussie couple there who I have kept in touch with (hope to visit them in Melbourne soon). After a while there, we went back to the hotel to shower and figure out the night plans. We needed to leave by 11 am the next day because I had dinner plans with a friend’s parents. We decide to go check out the Durango nightlife and have some drinks. We started at this old, rustic Durango hotel that had a bar. After a few hours of drinking I suggested we go back because we needed to wake up early and drive back. Anton was having none of it. I pleaded with him to come back to the hotel because I knew what would happen. When Anton is “Full Anton” mode there is no reasoning with him. Eventually I said, “Ok man, just understand we need to be on the road by 11.” I headed back to the hotel and went to bed.
The Next Morning
I woke up around 9 am, feeling pretty good. I quickly realized Anton’s bed was empty. Thoughts began running through my head. The first one was he got arrested or thrown in the drunk tank. I called his phone but it was dead. I was pretty worried because this was not like him and we were in a place he had never been. So I made the call. First the police, and then the hospitals. Both of those were dead ends. I then thought that maybe he met some chick but that is not really like him and his phone would probably not have been dead. It was now 10 am. I called my buddy Bryce back in Alaska to seek come council. He told me it’s probably no big deal and he will turn up. At this point I was getting a bit worried.
I called the place we were the night before to see if they had any info, nothing. I thought about going out and searching for him but did not want to miss him if he came back to the hotel. Now it’s 11 am, still no word… We are supposed to be on the road by now. Check out is at noon. Another hour goes by and nothing. I pack up the room and put everything in the car. Then I go to checkout. As I am checking out I tell my plight to the front desk person. She says, “I wonder if he is the guy from last night?” I said, “What guy? She said she was not working but the night manager told her about it. Apparently some guy had come around and claimed he was staying in the hotel but had no idea what room number and could barely talk. That had to be him. I guess he was asked to leave. She then asks me, “Did you call detox.” I told her I called the hospitals. She replied, “No, you should call the detox facility, he might be there.” She went on to explain this is where they take the tourists who drink too much in the high elevations. This sounded promising.
I got their number and phoned over. I explained who I was looking for and was told to hold. Some girl came on the phone and said, ‘We cannot confirm or deny that Mr. Anton is here, but if he is here, who are you and what is your number?” Bingo! I give my info and instead of waiting around I headed over to the the detox facility. By the time I arrived they had received his permission that they could talk to me about him. They put me in a waiting room, he was being held behind a locked door. I asked one of the nurses what the hell happened. She told me the police found him passed out in a parking lot. They took him to the hospital, where he blew a 0.37. I did not know that was possible. He was then transferred to the detox facility, which is right across the street.
Finally, Anton came into the room. He was not looking too good… He also had very little memory of what happened. He did recall meeting some guy who invited him to a bar. He asked if they guy was going to kill him, after saying no he apparently got in the guy’s car. I thanked the nurses and asked if he could be released. She told me people cannot leave until they blow a 0.00. I asked when that might be. She estimated 8 pm. I explained the situation to her and ensured her we would be leaving the city, and state immediately. Eventually she agreed to release him to me. This was around 1 pm. Before we left we went to the hospital so Anton could pay his ER bill.
I was relieved to have found Anton and glad to be on our way. I was, however, not happy that I was going to be several hours late for dinner. I wanted to thank the Durango police for being so cool and not arresting Anton so I gave them a call. The dispatcher knew immediately who I was calling about. She told me that when he was in the hospital they asked him where he was, he kept insisting New Mexico. They had to tell him he was in the wrong state. They were also curious how this Russian from Alaska ended up there. Luckily the police in Durango seemed to be cool as hell. Anton passed out in the car and slept the entire way home. As nerve racking as it was at the time, it definitely made for an epic travel story.