So I’m packing my bags for the Misty Mountains
Where the spirits go, now.
Over the hills where the spirits fly.
--Led Zeppelin, “Misty Mountain Hop”
Early Saturday morning, Monkey and I are packing the Penguin and heading west for the Rocky Mountains. I look forward to this trip every year. Nothing brings me peace like being in or near the mountains.
Growing up, my family vacation was always to the east: the ocean. And, every year, I looked forward to that trip. I loved nothing more than rising before dawn, packing the car and taking a three hour (if we were lucky) drive to the Atlantic shore. I loved the roar of the surf, the smell of the ocean, the heat of the sun, the feel of the sand under foot. I loved to hear the cry of gulls. I loved the nightly trips to the crowded boardwalk, the ice cream, the vinegar-coated fries. I loved steamed crabs and fried chicken. I loved walking the beach and swimming in the breakers. But, as I recall those trips, there was very little peace. Of course, a ten year-old boy usually isn’t looking for peace, is he?
Once I moved from Maryland, trips to the ocean became less frequent. I did not miss them as much as I thought I would. And, once we made it out here to Nebraska, we discovered the Rockies an eight hour drive away. And here, I found a place that I may have always been looking for.
I feel a sense of happiness in the mountains. I feel clean, alive, refreshed; I feel like I am where I ought to be. I don’t have a clue why that is the way this place makes me feel, and I feel like questioning it is pointless. I just love being there.
There is indeed something about these mountains that other mountains I have experienced, namely the Appalachians, do not possess. The Cascades have a bit of it, but it is not the same. There is an awe and a majesty to the Rockies that other ranges that I have experienced (and granted, that is a limited sample) do not possess.
I feel, at this point, that this is about to descend into an even more random ramble than usual, so let me bring this to an I-have-to-go-to-bed-so-I-can-get-up-at-six-and-drive-eight-hours-tomorrow close. I am off for the mountains tomorrow, and I am going to love every minute I am there, and leaving in a week will be one of the hardest things I have to do this year.
Ironically, the following week, I will be heading back east to hit the beach. Don’t expect me to wax poetic about that (but I will have a damn good time, anyway).