During the school year I forget all about the incredible beauty of the interior Western part of the United States. This is the third time in the past four years we've spent our summer vacation driving to Colorado from Seattle, and the ride just keeps getting more beautiful as my kids get old enough to play Twenty Questions and Trivia Questions About Science in Exchange for Skittles as we fly past potato fields, nesting ospreys, grazing horses/cattle, and antique shops (like the one in Dillon, MT) I wish I could peruse. This is Wyoming as we neared the Wind River Range:
Someday I hope to backpack in these mountains, but in the meantime we have to settle for speeding by them at 80 mph marveling at the clouds, the wide sky--the biggest sky I've ever come across (the entire view is sky; the land is nothing compared to it, but we did enjoy and the rabbitbrush blooming all along the highway). And then there are along those Ron Paul stickers plastered everywhere, and those bullet holes through the "No Littering" signs. (It will cost you $750 if you litter in Wyoming, but who will catch you if you do? A day driving through Wyoming, and we never saw a police car).
I love the wild West, long to fish the Beavertail and the Big Hole, wish I could have spent a week instead of two days hauling ass in the Suburu through the best flyfishing streams in the world, but coming back to the Pacific NW is always such a joy. We live in such a welcoming, tolerant, diverse, and open-minded neighborhood. Not one ripe cherry tomato had been pilfered from our front yard veggie patch; no one even absconded with the ripening pumpkin! But more than that, we felt grateful to be a part of a community of good folk. The air smelled fresh (straight off the Pacific) as we supped on an arugula and proscuitto pizza at our local bistro, toasting our return from an amazing three weeks in NW Colorado.
It's a crap shoot where you end up living. Birth, economic circumstance, ambition (or lack thereof), and just plain bad luck can land you in a place with bad air, poor job prospects, a dead end in terms of upward mobility. I know damn well how lucky I got, and I give thanks daily to not only that luck of decent DNA, but to two parents who valued education over just about everything else except familial love. They also taught me to whip up a mean caprese salad. Mange!