September 1st seems timely for a last-ditch effort to celebrate the final days of summer. Sadly, I can no longer enjoy those halcyon days since I've been neck-deep in meetings all week. Shew, my brain is tired! Before I fully embrace the reality that comes with the back-to-school fun and madness, I would like to wax poetic about the joys of road-tripping and exploring the 'great outdoors' during the summer months.
I know, I know, I spent plenty of time in Spain and France, so why romanticize the rest of my summer when it pales in comparison to those "grand dames"? Especially when I'm on the topic of road trips which can evoke a few negative emotions from me!
Still, there are just as many positive ones that also emerge in that murky pond that I call "memory". I believe that the trek from South Texas to Arkansas, every summer to visit my grandmother, instilled a slight appreciation for road-tripping. Not that it was a serious road trip - it took two days, but those seemed like centuries when my brothers were poking me and I was getting carsick by reading one book or another, even though I just KNEW that I'd feel pretty crappy after a while. It did have some of the elements of a good road trip, however, such as the Dairy Queen in Nacogdoches, TX and crossing over the Red River, seeing trains and then getting out of the car and smelling the pine trees.
These days, Michael and I are huge fans of roadtrips, which we frequently take with Gus and Milo (our dogs). Usually one of the main attractions is Colorado, and we've almost memorized the route from I-15 to I-70, anticipating certain curves in the road, convenience stores, rest areas, and the sun and shadows at different times of the day. With some frequency, we just blow through the entire state of Utah, oooh-ing and aaaah-ing from St. George on, but this summer, I begged Michael to stop in Moab, UT, and he acquiesced (he's great like that). Personally, I love Moab, and have visited this random outdoorsy paradise five different times now - while on a road trip of one sort or another!
I must admit that I was a bit nervous - what if Michael didn't like Moab? Would that be a total "deal-breaker" for us? What if the developers/tourists had ruined it completely? While it IS a bit more developed each time I visit, it is still clinging to a vibrantly independent spirit. One of many highlights of our short (14-hour stay) was the Apache Motel, which is not fancy at all, but John Wayne and John Ford stayed there and so did I!
We spent the night in Moab and then woke up early and headed to Arches National Park, another jewel in the Utah national parks crown. Again, I've hiked up to "Delicate Arch" at least three times in my lifetime, but I do not tire of the spectacular scenery.
Finally, back in the States, after our European sojourn, we were fortunate enough to spend a few days in Colorado and ended up on a hike at Brainard Lake. I think that we had finally recovered somewhat from jetlag and then we found ourselves with major headaches from the altitude. Despite being at 10,000 feet and enduring somewhat inclement weather, Michael and I completely enjoyed the experience! I am a total sucker for alpine meadows and wildflowers and alpine lakes. As much as I love being close to mountains here in the LA area, they don't have quite that "breathtaking" quality of the hikes in Colorado and other western states. Not to me, at least! And so, the hiking bug and travel bug continue to strike! Even though it's the beginning of the school year, I have already started to imagine the 'places we will go' next year. Hiking in Colorado is definitely on the list!