Having just returned from two weeks of travel in the Western United States, I am in awe. My husband and I drove through Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Utah, Colorado, Wyoming and Montana, and I am once again struck by how different landscapes affect the people who live in them and those who are fortunate to experience being in them.
Everywhere we went we encountered places with Native American names, the mark of early pioneers and settlers, vast, open country and big big sky. In southern Idaho, we camped in an agricultural area complete with a nearly dry river bed and the smell of cattle. In Utah, we encountered holes in the cliffs, colors to astound, a thunderstorm to rattle us and scenery to gaze at in amazement and hike through in wonder. In Colorado, we walked among red rocks and aspen-ringed lakes, scrambled over boulders and sat by the confluence of two rivers flowing through an urban landscape. In Wyoming we drove through barren landscape and discovered hidden gems like ranches against the mountains, and across Montana we were mesmerized by clouds, fields, mountains and oh that astounding sky
We met campground hosts living a semi-nomadic lifestyle; young people drawn to Western towns for mountain biking, river sports and backpacking; people of all ages making their homes in the thriving metropolis that is Denver; a young man in Wyoming who took up the sport of bowhunting and shared about the start of the antelope hunting season. We had interesting conversations with gas station attendants, park rangers, and other travelers like ourselves. All of these encounters made us appreciate the vast, fascinating and stunningly beautiful country we live in, and gave us a special peek into the particular culture of the West.
I am still assimilating all that we saw and learned, and mostly just happy that we were able to travel like this. Experiences not too far from home can certainly be as enlightening as those across the globe.