“If there is such a thing as being conditioned by climate and geography, and I think there is, it is the West that has conditioned me. It has the forms and lights and colors that I respond to in nature and in art." Wallace Stegner
It bears repeating, "...the forms and lights and colors that I respond to in nature and art." No wonder some people don't "get it," or me, for that matter. Thanks for expressing my feelings so simply, Wally.
Let me dumb it down for the smarty pants out there. I guess what I love and appreciate most about summering in Lovely Ouray, as well as the multifarious places we choose as destinations away from there, is "the forms and lights and colors" Mr. Stegner speaks of. Add to that they are right now forming and lighting and coloring right out my Imax Windows.
But sitting and staring out windows never accomplishes much, especially when there is a little boy inside saying, "I wonder what's way up there?" It's that tug of curiosity that soon has me pulling on boots, pack and hat, and setting off on a trail...self-propelling through unique, diverse topographies (forms). Whether walking, hiking, peddling, or paddling, I'm rewarded with physiological "fruits" that, to be frank, one-ups any recreational drug from college days and most of today's IPA's. Well, almost. What serendipitous, albeit sophomoric, irony...that the high I longed for was out west; the "Colorado Rocky Mountain High" that John Denver rode into the ground (and to the bank) virtually nonstop throughout the 70's. God bless 'em, you just can't help but sing along.
I mean, gee; let's not over-intellectualize this, people. We are curiosity driven human beings (well, most of us) with energy to burn (except in the south east where it's too hot and humid to leave the AC). So we climb mountains—first and foremost, because they are there...no matter WTF William James or his overzealous serviles say. We go to mountains to escape our masses, who are there trying to escape their masses, which is why eastern slope mountains don't work as well; just too many megalopolites lapping at foothills, crowding into parks and wilderness, and ruining your reason to be there. I blame John Denver.
I derive ethereal joy from self-propelling through western Colorado's solitary and pristine eye-candy, with its cool climate and pine scent massaging my senses. Wallace Stegner's words echo like poetry in the emptiness between my ears:
"It is probably a combination of a different landscape and an abiding human freedom-dream that tourists respond to in the west...
what a native recognizes and responds to, what tells him that he's home, is...aridity. And if he has the freedom-dream, as he probably does, he also feels the tug of its opposite: sanctuary.
...in spite of the huckstering of scenery and commercializing of beauty and grandeur and awe, there is a lot of the west where both illimitable freedom and perfect sanctuary may be found."
Cue Lovely Ouray, if you will pardon my prejudice. I believe Bobbie and I have resolved the "Freedom-dream versus Sanctuary" dilemma/argument (yes, we argued) because of this little southwest Colorado town. "Beauty and grandeur and awe" to be walked, hiked, peddled, and paddled out our doorstep. Arizona's winter warmth is one day's drive. Utah is most beautiful during transitional seasons here, and is only a few hours distant. How lucky to have found both the freedom I crave and the sanctuary to hole up in when needed. In "Through Painted Deserts," Donald Miller suggests "Home" is a place you must leave, so that you can come back and appreciate the other side of the travel coin.
What to do with the rest of our one-shot life. Me? I'm going to keep fluttering my eyelashes at gourmet wildflowers, self-propelling to blue lakes nestled in iron-crusted basins. I guess I've been persuaded to call Lovely Ouray our summer "home," a place to come off the road to, a place where I can Man-tinker and weld in a garage, sleep in a super kingsize bed, walk to town or the Hot Springs or the park or to a lonesome trailhead bound for glory. It's a place where I can climb a mountain or squeeze in a bike ride before work. And those are mighty important things, as they are cursed with a wretched "shelf-life" that strikes fear into the hearts of aging athletes.
Yep, I'm over and done with with the search for that fantasy "someplace better." Only now, as hair grays with wisdom, am I beginning to realize that "home" is a lot like people, “when you stop expecting (them) to be perfect, you can like them for who they are” (Donald Miller). Perfection does not exist except in the minds of dreamers, and Lord knows I'm a dreamer extraordinaire. Wisdom eventually finds its way to the most footloose old men, who someday might just appreciate and/or need "community" or familiar sanctuary when it's time to ease up on the gas...probably...maybe...I think.
Guess maybe I'm still straddling that fence after all :).
Now for a reunite hike with Airstream Wiseones, Susan and Maikel. As you recall, we spent most of last winter playing with them in Utah and Arizona and they never got tired of us :). Boonie and Coffee Girl are still around, so they joined us for a hike to Ice Lakes. Such great company in High Places.
Coming up, we get together with Rv'ers/bloggers Al and Engrid of Live, Laugh, Rv.
That's a great name!