The United States includes some stunningly beautiful country. And, thanks to Theodore Roosevelt and those who have taken up his mantle over the years, a lot of that country has been set aside in national and state parks so that all of us can share in it.
I traveled up to Boulder, Colorado, a couple of weeks ago to spend a long weekend with my sweetheart, and since I had time, I drove. (As I said in my “Stalking the Muse” post a few weeks back, I find distance driving unleashes my creativity.) Mostly I traveled on old U.S. highways, which are the way to go if you don’t mind slowing down for the occasional small town.
All along the way I saw areas set aside for common use: national grasslands in the prairie country, the edge of Palo Duro Canyon near Amarillo, national forests off of roads through the mountains in Colorado and New Mexico. When we took a trip up to Rocky Mountain National Park, I got around to taking some pictures of our natural beauty.
We stopped to picnic along Colorado Route 7 on the way from Boulder to the park, which is where I got this view of rocks near the St. Vrain Creek.
Once in the national park, we took the Trail Ridge Road up to the Alpine Visitor Center, which is above the treeline. The highest point we got to was about 12,000 feet — pretty heady for someone who lives at about 500 feet above sea level.
Storms were brewing the whole time, though we didn’t have to drive through any serious downpours on mountain roads. They’ve had enough drought and fire worries in Colorado that it’s impossible to hope it doesn’t rain, even when you’re on vacation.
I sometimes feel like our country is just one long strip of fast food chains and big box stores, but traveling through our national parks provides the counter argument. It’s so wonderful to be able to share in this bounty.
And I came up with a lot of good ideas for stories while I was driving.