On one of our many visits to Colorado we went to a theme park took the roller coaster road from Independence Pass to Aspen. It is considered one of the highest paved roads in North America. We flatlanders had been in the mountains only for a few days so the initial shock of altitude change had worn off, we thought, but I guess it takes much longer to fully acclimate to the environment.
This picture was taken at Highway 82 overlook, a breathtaking stopover at 12,095 feet above sea level. In my travel journal I describe the air as thin and cold. I observe that we are on tundra, above the tree line. The views are dizzying and exhilirating. I realize the little squiggle below is really the road we took to get here.
The drive to Aspen is nothing but a series of hair-pin turns and switchbacks through the peaks and valleys of the central rockies. It was the equivalent feeling of stepping off the Tilt-A-Whirl at the local carnival — after you’ve unwisely ingested a hot dog with everything.
This picture was taken in 2004. I could have sat on that bench all afternoon, soaking up the sun, feeling the wind whip my hair, and inviting the utter peace and serenity of the landscape to infuse my soul.
It’s a feeling I can only get in places of nature’s extremities. The surf crashing on the rocks at the seaside or on a snow-covered peak in the mountains. I’m not a religious person, but these moments are the closest thing to feeling a God, a higher power, a presence greater than myself.
Why I can’t get that feeling in a Michigan cornfield I don’t know.