Being a kid from Texas living in Colorado, I always thought it strange how wrong people were about Texas. Most of the kids I went to school with had the idea that we rode horses and tumbleweeds would regularly blow through our dusty little town out on the range. Except that the only horse I ever rode was at a fair and he was walking in circles harnessed to a pole, and the first tumbleweeds I ever saw were in Colorado.
When I first drove Jonny through my hometown, even he was surprised that there were trees and topography. He had assumed that since it was a small town in the middle of the state (not in the Hill Country or Piney Woods) that it would be flat and bland.
I used to think that people just didn't understand Texas, but then I moved back, and realized that people are just as confused about Colorado. Denver is not in the mountains. Not everyone skis. And despite some great recreational opportunities, living in Colorado is like living most places. It is not like being on permanent vacation. Kids in Colorado get sick of driving into the mountains to see Aspen trees just like kids in Texas get sick of driving in the car to get to the beach.
In general, I would rather experience places than make judgements from afar about them. I think it is all a matter of getting out into the world and seeing something that you haven't seen before. This includes things in your own backyard.
Jonny and I had both been to Rocky Mountain National Park on several occasions (both recreational and for coursework at UNC...If you ever want to exercise your inner Geology nerd, I have pictures and extensive notes that I would LOVE to share with you!). However, we generally frequented the same trails within the park. In fact when most people say they are going to Rocky Mountain National Park, it means they are going to Bear Lake, a popular spot within the park.
One weekend, we decided to break the routine and camp in a different area. It was so refreshing to see new things. New trails, new animals, new meadows, new waterfalls. It was beautiful, and serene, and not crowded with tourists. The serenity was probably aided by the fact that it was the weekend before Memorial Day which is not prime time for camping in Colorado (as the temps dipped to below freezing that night).
We cooked our hot dogs and marshmallows over an open fire while bundled against the cold in all the blankets we had with us. Later we walked to an opening in in the pines and Jonny pointed out all the constellations that we could see so much better while at altitude and away from the city lights. We woke up with frozen red noses peeking out of our sleeping bags and stiff necks from the hard ground. It was not glamorous, but it was invigorating and gratifying for a soul restless for new experiences.
This place that we thought we knew had great surprises in store for us just because we dared take a different road. Not to read way too much into things, but I think that applies to most adventures in life. It was just a camping trip in a very well travelled national park, but it gave us a new personal perspective and a desire to see and experience more. A desire that only gets stronger the more of this world that we see.
The new Camping Tent print in the Whitehall Shop Great Outdoors collection always reminds me of this trip, and one of my favorite 'back in the day' experiences with my best friend.