|In Colorado, 1970s|
What an ugly thing to keep happening in such a beautiful place. There could be no greater contrast between such horrible events and what the state of Colorado looks like or the feelings its beauty inspires in people who see the state for themselves. Colorado is a place where even the town and city names mirror the state's natural beauty and wonder: Aspen, Boulder, Pueblo, Silverton, Colorado Springs, Cripple Creek, Pikes Peak, Garden of the Gods, Columbine, Aurora....I know a lot of people here in the Midwest who dream of moving to Colorado, of trading in flat cornfields and sprawling suburbia for mountains punctuated by more mountains, pine forests, alpine meadows, sharp peaks jousting high up in the sky with puffs of cloud.
|In the Rockies|
|My brother Eric and sister Arla, on a family vacation, 1970s|
|Arla, Eric, my dad...and that tiny creature in pigtails is me. Was I really that small or is it the Colorado mountains are so big? Probably both. :)|
|Eric, my mom, me, and Arla|
|Dad in Colorado, 1970s|
|Dad in Colorado, 1990s|
|Puebloan (Native American) cliffside village at Mesa Verde|
|Eric with Arla and me, Mesa Verde, after climbing the scary ladder|
|Mesa Verde cliff dwellings|
One thing I remember about visiting Colorado was that at times it was a scary place. We went camping the time when I was real little, and at night I worried about our family being eaten by wolves or bears. We went up in the Rockies and got caught in a bad thunder and lightning storm up there, and my brother got sick to boot. That was really scary (and thrilling too--watching the lightning strike below us, because we were so high up in the mountains). We went to Mesa Verde too, and found out belatedly that our tour of the old American Indian villages built into the cliffs overhanging a deep canyon involved climbing a bunch of shaky ladders very near the edge of the cliffs. (See the pics of the Balcony House at this blog to get an idea.) My mom is terribly afraid of heights, and as for me--keep in mind I was only about 4 years old climbing these things. I'm told after we reached the top of the scariest ladder, I told my mother "I wish I never camed here." Meanwhile, a boy about 10 or 12 years old ahead of me had burst into tears with of mixture of fear and relief. Years later, in my late teens, I went back to some of these same places (Rocky Mountain National Park, Mesa Verde) with my parents--and all those great heights were still scary. So was watching a couple cowboys nearly get trampled by bulls in a rodeo we went to in Durango.
|Dad and me in Rocky Mountain National Park, 1990s. Excuse the wild hair.|
|A deer--so tame! By the Royal Gorge in Colorado.|
|Dad, Wolf Creek Pass|
I mention these scary moments on our Colorado trips because this is precisely the kind of fear and adventure we go to places like Colorado to experience. It's all natural and somewhat expected fear. Cliff drop-offs, winding high mountain roads, snake bite, bear sightings, blisters from your hiking boots, wild horses, flash floods, sudden snowstorms--they're all trade-offs for the rewards of seeing magnificent views, breathing fresh air, getting fit and healthy from walking, skiing, boating, etc., watching the sun rise and set beyond mountain peaks, coming upon an unusually tame deer or a sweet-voiced bird on a morning hike. When we travel or pursue adventure, we expect there to be some scary moments, some danger in the deal--and we accept this and largely unavoidable. We do not expect such fear and danger sitting inside a movie theater, or while attending high school, or playing a ball game at the playground, or waiting for a bus on a city street corner. But we've created a culture and a society where that kind of danger is becoming sadly commonplace, despite it being arguably quite avoidable. I shouldn't have to be more afraid of going to a movie near Denver or walking down a street in Chicago than I would of camping in a desolate canyon or walking a trail shared by mountain lions or grizzlies. But it looks like that's the kind of place Colorado, Chicago, America has become.