There I'd be, trying to eat a sandwich, have a conversation or pay attention to my kids and ... boom! ... out of the corner of my eye comes the bold, body-slamming beauty of the Rocky Mountains, their snowy tips and dark contours dominating the horizon.
Of course, once you're actually in and among those mountains, twisting along the roads and hiking trails of Rocky Mountain National Park, all bets are off when it comes to concentration. The mind wanders from peak to peak, floating with the crisp, cool air. Nothing matters but the quiet grandeur of this magnificent place.
My family just returned from a five-day vacation in Colorado, where we spent quality time with Kerry and Mary, my brother- and sister-in-law, who are recent transplants to the state and who served as our advisers and tour guides. They took us hiking and mountain biking, introduced us to the local craft beer scene, showed us the many charms of the towns along Colorado's Front Range (Windsor, Fort Collins and Estes Park) and essentially kept us outdoors as much as possible. On our last day, I even squeezed in an excursion down to Denver by myself, spending an afternoon hitting that city's bars and bookstores and walking its crowded streets and questionable alleyways.
Returning home wasn't easy. I'll be honest: I'm pretty bummed our trip is over. It took me 48 years to finally get to Colorado, and it felt as much like home as any place I've ever been.
Countless others have fallen in love with the state's breathtaking geography, fresh-air offerings and spiritual gifts. Even the anticipation of a visit to Colorado stirs the emotions. As Jack Kerouac wrote in On the Road (before crossing from Nebraska into Colorado) ... "And soon I realized I was actually at last over Colorado, though not officially in it, but looking southwest toward Denver itself a few hundred miles away. I yelled for joy. We passed the bottle. The great blazing stars came out, the far-receding sand hills got dim. I felt like an arrow that could shoot out all the way."