Most people this day and age are sure to appreciate the numerous amenities that cities have come to provide for us, but there are times where I really wish I lived further from them. It seems that much of city life, and in fact modern living in general, seeks to separate us not just from each other, but from the natural world in which we live. While I’ve not spent as much time out in the wilderness as I’d like, I have had the privilege to be out in some of the most beautiful places in the country.
Having seen just a few of these places, they are still some of my most cherished memories. It also seems only fitting that the best views of the cosmos from our little blue dot, are from some of the most magnificent places that are still virtually untouched by modern society. I doubt I’m the first to postulate it, but it seems we can best know something by immersing ourself in it.
My time spent in the woods, on the shores or above the tree line are when I most feel myself. It’s a wonderful thing to be able to see nature in such a way. It makes it all the more challenging to live in the midwest. There aren’t any mountains nearby to scale, something I have developed a taste for on our recent trips. And, the landscapes are hard to capture without man’s fingerprints all over them.
We recently returned from a trip to Utah. We were fulfilling a promise we’d made to ourselves on our first trip out West. I remember it well. On our first long road trip, we had planned to go to Las Vegas and enjoy the shows and city and such. While the shows were good, and the city was fine, we were still lost in what we had seen along the way. This was the first time either of us had been through the mountains of Colorado and the canyons of Utah. So at about 4am on our last day in Vegas, we packed up, checked out and headed for the Grand Canyon! There are many stories to be told about this adventure, but before I deviate too much, we made it to the Grand Canyon and as I’m sure most people are when they first see it, we were speechless. We knew when we got there that we wouldn’t be able to linger long, as we’d also realized during the rerouting of our trip home, that Arches National Park was not that far off our new route and we just might be able to make it there in time for the sunset.
So, after managing to keep myself from pulling off at every overlook, we were back on the road, later than expected and further away than we’d like to have been. With a quick check of the weather report, we soon realized that sunset was going to very closely coincide with our arrival time. Despite our best efforts and perhaps questionable adherence to the speed limits (most of which were already 70-75 mph), we arrived just as the light had faded. We were able to drive through the park, though it was difficult to see much. It was then that we promised ourselves that we would return. It took over 3 years for the opportunity to present itself, and even then it almost didn’t, I’m thankful that we made the trip.
With every trip we take, I come to appreciate nature more. And though I sometimes quibble about the average landscapes of the midwest, I try to appreciate nature in all forms that it takes. Perhaps our average landscapes and seemingly non diverse wildlife are more an effect of man’s presence than anything else.
For most of my life, I’ve only known the night skies of the midwest. They simply cannot compare to those in the high deserts of Utah or the plains of Montana or the Dakotas.
And the landscapes, while beautiful in their own right, do not compare to those of the Rocky Mountains or the Canyon’s of the Colorado River.
I am anxious to return to the West, to the mountains.