“It had been like dying, that sliding down the mountain pass. It had been like the death of someone, irrational, that sliding down the mountain pass into the region of dread. It was like slipping into fever, or falling down that hole in sleep from which you wake yourself whimpering. We had crossed the mountains that day, and now we were in a strange place…” –Annie Dillard
The divide between Colorado and Kansas is not what one expects. One expects to come upon the towering mountains, to feel some sort of existential power, like coming upon god. Instead, you cross the border and nothing changes. For hours you pass fields of sunflowers and wind turbines. For hours the land is flat. The plains gently roll and roll and roll until finally you see some differentiation. Until finally the hills begin to form. You have to press your foot harder on the gas, the engine revs. And then you see them in the distance, deep purple, rising on the horizon. In fact the horizon disappears and becomes a hazy congregation of what you assume to be pure splendor.
Which it is. As John Muir famously wrote in Our National Parks, “Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity.”
21 years ago, my mother carried me on her back through the Rocky Mountains, and perhaps something in me felt the need to return. Perhaps it runs in my blood.
Or perhaps it was just time for change. A change in topography. A change in people, which inevitably means a change in ideals and mindsets.
Today, someone at The Laughing Goat coffee shop told me that people come to Boulder to find themselves, and once they do, they never leave.
I am watching innocently.