WOSTER: Family makes a better attraction than mountainsI struggle to enjoy mountains. My brother-in-law still hasn’t forgotten that I once bashed the Rockies after a family gathering somewhere near Estes Park several years ago. The brother-in-law loves the mountains. He thinks the prairie is flat and uninteresting. I tend to think mountains are uninteresting.
By: Terry Woster, The Daily Republic
Most of the family gathered in Denver for the Thanksgiving holiday, and I came away from the experience with many impressions — some new, some reinforced versions of impressions I formed on previous trips.
The family gathering was incomplete without the Brookings trio. They spent their Thanksgiving in Mitchell. It lacks the mountains, I suppose, but about six hours into the trip out to the edge of the Rockies last Wednesday — somewhere southwest of the Nebraska-Colorado line — I was envying the Brookings contingent their drive.
A collection of random impressions about the mile-high city and its nearby mountains:
We arrived, safely, a minor miracle given the number of vehicles speeding along I-80 in Nebraska and I-76 in Colorado. We took Nancy’s mother to Longmont, where she stayed with her youngest son. Our own younger son, Andy, who lives in what seems to be the southern part of Denver, told us to wait out the rush hour in Longmont before tackling Interstate 25 to his place.
It would have been nice to have made that drive down from Longmont to Denver in daylight, just to see where we were going and who all was going with us.
Driving a Prius in relatively thick traffic is a daunting task, especially at night on an unfamiliar highway and surrounded by vehicles whose drivers all seemed to know exactly when to scoot over to the far-right lane for an exit.
Yeah, I know, my driving and my South Dakota license plate probably set the state’s image back a couple of decades. I’d have said “Deal with it,” to those other drivers, if I could have taken my concentration from the highway long enough to form a thought.
The city has dog parks. People take their dogs to these places just like you might take a child to, you know, a city park. The dogs run loose, chase tennis balls and generally exercise themselves silly. The owners, at least Katie and Andy, seemed to know the names of most of the dogs in the park, as well as the names of several owners. I was bemused by the dog-park concept, having grown up on a farm where the dogs ran wherever they wanted whenever they wanted. I must admit, though, I enjoyed the place, and it made perfect sense in its setting.
I struggle to enjoy mountains. My brother-in-law still hasn’t forgotten that I once bashed the Rockies after a family gathering somewhere near Estes Park several years ago. The brother-in-law loves the mountains. He thinks the prairie is flat and uninteresting. I tend to think mountains are uninteresting. I know I’m not in the majority on that. I don’t mind admitting it’s a goofy way to think. I just like to be able to see where I’m going long before I get there.
We did a nice hike in the mountains one morning. Well, most of us did. I got about 25 or 30 minutes into a nice hike and realized the path was just going to keep going up and up with no particular purpose. Being way too old to have anything left to prove, I turned back, found a comfortable place at the foot of the trail, kicked back and softly hummed old John Denver tunes as I drifted in and out of sleep.
I renewed my fascination with the Sandhills of Nebraska, a fascinating place, enduring but fragile. The region must be treated with great respect or it is destroyed. I recalled, as we drove through those rolling hills, a line from a letter I received 20 years ago from the late John Milton. “For those who know where, or how, to look, the prairie and plains and desert are full of life,” he wrote to me.
Mostly, I rediscovered how much I enjoy the company of our younger son and his fiancé and of our oldest granddaughter and her husband, as well as the other family members with us.
On the drive home, I promised to jump at the chance to go back. I won’t, of course — jump at it. I’ll whine and complain for weeks. Then I’ll go, and I’ll love every minute — unless we go hiking.