Thursday, August 4, 2011

Wide, open spaces

My family recently traveled from the Bay Area of California to Breckenridge, Colorado. Three days of travel to get there allowed my husband and I to reconnect with the the vastness of the Western United States and to introduce our children to it.  It has helped to adjust my perspective again.

If you have never traveled by car through the Western States, I highly recommend you try it.  It is an experience without parallel.  Between California and the great Divide, you can see life teeming in apparent barrenness, experience both the loneliness and solitude of the middle of nowhere, and truly see how Nature still trumps human ingenuity.  The basin and range of eastern Nevada is full of hidden treasures from dry lake beds with icthyosaur fossils to gem-like hidden lakes in the mountains.  Wild horses, elk and deer can occasionally be spotted int he distance. The salt flats between Salt Lake City and the Nevada border is uniquely beautiful with it's blinding whiteness and crystallized ground.  Eastern Utah is place where you can literally view the passage of eons. If you know where to look, you can see the evolution of life on this planet from the Cambrian explosion to the rise of mammals, alongside the art of ancient native peoples.  The Rockies are huge in a way that cannot really be explained.  So tall and so strong are they that most of them have yet to be conquered by engineers.  The sky is different as you rise in elevation and exit the truly settled lands of towns and cities.  The air is cleaner, and at the same time, harder to obtain.  Water cuts through the land.

I have been reminded of the beauty, power and timelessness of nature.  I spent time feeling how truly small and fleeting my life is in comparison to the earth.  Stripping away the illusions of civilization has reinvigorated my senses and washed clean a part of me that I hadn't noticed getting dirty.  Perspective is a lovely and powerful thing, isn't it?

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