This is what I think about when I’m sitting at my desk during the summer: wildflowers in an alpine meadow surrounded by big peaks. It evokes a sense of freedom unto itself. Running down a trail through said meadow only magnifies said sense of freedom. Last week’s circumnavigation of one of our local peaks proved that once more.
Some mountains are worthy of cross-valley staring. Mount of the Holy Cross, pictured above my friend’s head, is one. Even in late June, the famous cross on the 14,005-foot peak’s east face is clearly visible. It’s the same view pilgrims traveled thousands of miles to witness in the 19th century, and the best part about it is nothing has changed.
As I rode my bike past this tennis court just southeast of Crested Butte, Colorado, I felt a pang of sympathy. Its brethren in Florida and Arizona and most places in the country, really, teem with people and balls and action. Not this one. He sits alone surrounded by peaks and trails and aspen groves, pining for company, pining to be needed, played on. One can only hope he enjoys the view.
Skiing on the Fourth of July is a tradition for some, less so for me. But I love it every time I do it. Our parade of nine, hailing from near and far, convened at a trailhead up a washboard-y dirt road last week to say goodbye to the 2015-16 ski season on this swath of discolored white. After the turns (and caviar and champagne at the top of the hike) we barbecued bratwursts and drank beer.
In the hours before this double rainbow appeared, I sat on a plane that was forced to fly 200 miles off course due to thunderstorms, while a wailing baby (ours) threw a temper tantrum in the seat next to me. It was stressful; the boy was angry for at least an hour straight. After the flight finally ended, we walked outside in the rain and took a bus to the parking lot, with a two-hour drive ahead of us. Then this rainbow appeared. We stood in silence and stared at nature’s little gift. For the first time in half a day, everything seemed OK.
Spring is all about new life. In the high country, aspen trees bud, dandelions bloom, fox kits scamper around the junkyard. In Minnesota, as my uncle-in-law showed me last week, blue birds lay eggs in PVC pipe nests.
You would think that after forgetting my poles twice before, I would’ve designed some kind of system to remember them no matter what. Not the case. Last week, I repeated my idiotic move once more and was left foraging at the trailhead for wooden replacements. They actually worked well, which was only partial consolation for how stupid I felt.
I have never ridden a bull, but I’ve watched a few rodeos and always yearned to be among them. Last week I visited Cave Creek, Arizona, just outside Phoenix, and attended an intimate weekly Friday night rodeo at a barbecue joint. Big-time rodeos might get the ink, but, like many adventurous pursuits, the small-time culture is where the sport shines. This cowboy got up and was fine after failing to last eight seconds, a bevy of high-fives serving as his consolation.
There aren’t many places in America where you can drive to a parking lot on public land, walk down a gorgeous boardwalk in the middle of nowhere, and soak in a 105-degree natural hot spring while staring up at one of the most famous mountain ranges in the country. I got introduced to this oasis last week in California’s Eastern Sierra after a nice day of spring skiing. I can only hope to one day return.
Some tables just have a better view than others. This one, a two-top at the Oasis restaurant in southern Colorado, stares out at Great Sand Dunes National Park and the Sangre de Cristo range. Come summer, it would be nearly impossible to score a seat at this table. But in early May, it sits empty most hours of the day and night, waiting for someone who appreciates world-class landscapes and homemade fruit pies.