It is 4.30 on a Thursday morning and I am writing these words on the big red IBM Selectric III that once belonged to Hunter S Thompson. Owl Farm, Thompson’s “fortified compound” in Woody Creek, Colorado, is dark and silent outside. Even the peacocks he raised are sleeping. The only sound anywhere is the warm hum of this electric typewriter and the mechanical rhythm of its key strikes, as clear and certain as gunfire.
In April, Thompson’s widow, Anita, began renting out the writer’s cabin to help support the Hunter S Thompson scholarship for veterans at Columbia University, where both she and Hunter studied. It sits beside the main Thompson home on a 17-hectare estate marked with hoof prints and elk droppings that gradually rises towards a mountain range. A short walk uphill is the spot where Thompson’s ashes were fired into the sky from a 153ft tower in the shape of a “Gonzo fist”, a logo he first adopted during his unsuccessful 1970 campaign to be sheriff of nearby Aspen. Johnny Depp, who played Thompson in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, picked up the $3m tab for that elaborate sendoff, which took place shortly after Thompson killed himself in 2005.