I’d heard the phrase before. During a childhood far more years ago than I once thought, I heard those words. Go West. After spending several days in the state of Colorado I can report many things for my Midwestern brethren who have not been. It is glorious. Far more that I could have first imagined, far more than the pictures I’d seen from friends who’ve moved there, and even more than I saw during my first journey.
I arrived and Denver greeted me with snow, light and flaky, but out of place in such an early week of October. With my midwest background I never shy from snow, for we get our fair share each spin of the seasons, yet still I was shocked to see it so early. The days that followed were progressively warmer and warmer, burning the snow away so I could appreciate Fall in all of Colorado’s mountainous glory.
My journey led me north to Loveland and Windsor, where the ground flattened out, allowing me to see a chain of the Rocky Mountains in the distance. At that range the peaks and hills tease you with their colors, then thunder through your heart as the sun sets over top of them. I’d heard the words of friends and family alike – You simply have to go to Denver and see what the land is like. I’ll admit I was ill prepared for the impact those days had on me, and even on the plane flight home I was still trying to process it after leaving.
My three plus hour drive west on Highway 14 was quite probably the best stretch of road I’ve been on. The rental car was powerful enough for me to enjoy a jaunt along the rivers and rapids, sending the engine a quick surge with each new turn. I stopped – out of a cocktail of respect and desire – to capture pictures of the towering rocks around me. If you ever get the opportunity to drive that highway in the Fall do not miss it. With zero phone signal and only spotty radio as my companion, I did a lot of thinking on that deserted highway.
When we take a journey, how much of it do we allow ourselves to process in the moment? What good does travel do us if we gloss over the natural wonders that make up the world we live in. And herein lies my point. There is no place like the one we live. There will never be another like it, mathematics tells us this. If we refuse to allow our hearts and minds to appreciate that which the Earth provides, then what is the point of it? Nature exists to challenge our notion of what we know. It’s purpose here on this planet is to provide us shelter, subsistence, but also to serve as a reminder of how fragile it is. When we abuse this gift, we lose part of what makes this place wondrous.
Never forget – it can all be taken away.
Addendum – This week was a whirlwind. Not just because of the Denver trip or the all the house things going on that I was hundreds of miles away from, but as per usual, the week before I take a vacation all of life’s gremlins try to escape the box at once. I did a lot of noodling about the next chapter on my plate, which will happen this coming week. It’s an opportunity for me to be home for several days in a row and nail down some serious writing time.