"If an immigrant came from a flat land like Illinois, he would wake up one morning after crossing the Missouri to see the Rockies as clear as a row of corn on his farm back home, and he would exult and cry, ‘Tonight we sleep in the mountains!’
But he would travel westward all the next day, and the mountains would still appear to be where they had been at dawn, and the next night they would be no closer, nor the next either. Distance could not be calculated, and occasionally a man and his wife would become mesmerized by the noble mountains; never had they seen anything so grand and so perplexing. The good part was that close up, these splendid ranges were just as impressive as they had been from a distance. They dominated the plains and served as a backdrop of extraordinary beauty.
It was at sunset that the mountains came into their own, for on some days clouds would rest over them like a light blanket and reflect the dying sun. Then the mountains would be bathed in splendor: gold and red and soft radiant browns and deep blues would color the underside of the clouds and frame the mountains in a celestial light, so that even the most stolid Indiana immigrant would have to halt his oxen and look in amazement at a setting so grand that it seemed to have been ordained solely for the stupefaction of mankind.”
James Michener, Centennial
Rather than a Conestoga wagon and a team of Oxen, I came west with my mutt Abby and a Hyundai Accent packed high with most of my possessions. At 80 miles an hour along I-70, the Rockies had far less time too woo and mesmerize as they did Michener’s stolid Indiana immigrant. But woo they did from the day of my arrival to they day that I left.
Four years later, as I drove westward over Vail pass to leave Colorado for my new home, part of me wondered what the heck i was doing to leave such a beautiful place.