John Ford Meets John Denver

A couple weeks on the road now and, like running antelopes, we’re covering a lot of territory very quickly. Traversing Western Colorado’s scenic byways, the highlighted routes on our map now resemble large linking puzzle pieces.

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We go up and down and up and down the many mountain passes like a roller coaster ride. From the summits to the prairielands, the views are panoramic scenes straight out of an old John Ford Western, but we’re the cowboys in this thrilling adventure.

Most of our travels have been in areas between 7,000 and 10,000 feet above sea level. After living at sea level on Maui for the last 25 years, the high elevations take my breath away. Feeling like I have weights on my lungs, deep breathing is difficult but the observation decks are delightful.

Our days are spent driving and sightseeing, stopping at sunset to set up camp, and sauntering down the road the next morning. We are adjusting to our new nomadic lifestyle and getting into a familiar routine with the camper now. We’ve divided up the daily household chores: I organize the inside of the camper and cook dinner and Trenton organizes the campsite and builds the fire. We both watch over half-blind Scrappers making sure he doesn’t get lost or become a snack for a mountain lion or coyote.

The early mornings are my favorite time. The first beams of light sneak in the camper window and wake me like an alarm clock. Stepping down from the bed, Scrappers is snuggled in his cat bed. He’s been such a trooper going from having run of my yard to the confines of living in an 8 x 6 ft. truck camper.

Opening the camper door and quietly stepping out, the smoke of a morning fire perfumes the crisp mountain air. The sunrays reach over canyon walls and fall through pine branches and warm the ground and air. Like Mother Nature hit a pause button, for a short time, the world is silent and still.

The silence soon ends as Scrappers follows me down the stairs, meowing with every step as if asking “where the hell are we now?” I put him on his leash and we both stretch and get acquainted with our surrounding. Scrapper sniffs around and with his blurry vision tries to find the grass and trees. With a little help from me, he finds a patch of grass to smell, chew and roll around in.

From the sheer cliffs and deep gorge of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, the cliff dwellings of Mesa Verde National Park, the tall tundra of Rocky Mountain National Park to all the forests, hot springs and lakes in between, Colorado is a place of western myths and legends and beautiful country.

As awesome as this place is, it will not be my new home; it’s too crowded and too far from family – and those are two reasons I moved from Maui. It’s an ideal vacation spot and we know we will be back to visit, but not to settle.

So we point our wheels North and roll to Montana. I leave Colorado with an appreciation of the beauty of this land and a greater understanding of what John Denver sang in his hit, Rocky Mountain High:

And the Colorado rocky mountain high

I’ve seen it raining fire in the sky

You can talk to God and listen to the casual reply

Rocky Mountain high

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Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

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