My obsession began within seconds of seeing the “Welcome to Colorado” sign.
“So, we’re definitely going to see some mountains today, right?” I asked.
“Yup. Just wait,” Tony replied.
“OK,” I said, squirming around in my seat as I craned my neck to and fro, hoping a little extra height would allow me to catch a glimpse of some snow-capped peaks somewhere across the disappointingly smooth terrain. But it was hopeless. As far as my eyes could see, it was flat. A pretty flat, as golden plains rolled out to meet the cornflower blue sky, but flat nonetheless.
“It’s just that I REALLY want to see some mountains, while we’re in Colorado,” I mentioned a couple of minutes later, on the off chance that—in the intervening time since I had last stated it and now—Tony had forgotten my primary sightseeing mission for the state.
“I know. Don’t worry. Just wait,” he promised.
“I’ll be soooo disappointed if we don’t see some mountains today…”
“I got it. Colorado’s a big state and we’re still on the fringes. We’ll see some mountains once we get closer to the continental divide. Just wait!”
Resigned that I’d get my mountains when they were ready for me and not the other way around, I slumped down in my seat and cranked up the radio, dedicating myself wholeheartedly to my role of roadtrip DJ. Alas, after thirty minutes of driving and sneakily glancing out the window with nary a crested peak in sight, I began to get a little impatient.
“Let’s play a game!” I announced. “I spy with my little eye, something that’s NOT a mountain.”
“Ha ha. Very funny,” Tony said, clearly less amused by my clever brattishness than I was. “And besides, you’re wrong. If you squint and look over there, you can see the outline of a mountain.”
I whipped my head in the direction Tony had pointed and, smooshing my face against the glass like our dogs in the back seat, narrowed my eyes in both skepticism and concentration. The sky was thick with haze but—lo and behold!—Tony was right: if you squinted, the shadowy form of a mountain—dotted with a snowy peak and everything!—loomed to the north. It was so faint it almost seemed like a mirage, but it as definitely there.
My heart flipped in my chest and then plummeted to my stomach; I had said I wanted to see a mountain and the foggy figure in the distance technically qualified, but one slightly obscured solitary summit didn’t really cut it as far as my mountain cravings were concerned.
“Is that it?” I asked forlornly. “I thought Colorado’s mountains would be… better some how. More impressive. More majestic.”
Sighing and shaking his head, Tony took my hand in his and squeezed.
Our time in Colorado was an example of “drive by” tourism at its finest. We stuck to I70 as we made our way through the state over the course of a single day, straying only briefly (and just barely at that) when we stopped in the cozy little ski bum town of Frisco for lunch with the delightful Sarah & Tyrhone of Sarah Somewhere and Tell Them I Said Something, and for the occasional “scenic pullout” (a term I snickered at every single time).
As Tony promised, the farther west we drove, the closer we got to the heart of the country, the more spectacular the scenery became. I was dubious when we reached Denver as the mounds around it seem more like foothills than proper mountains (which I say, using the Himalayas as my metric for “proper mountains”… a lofty yard stick, I realize!), but once we pushed past the capital, the landscape exploded skyward and fulfilled all my pointed-peak fantasies. As we continued westward towards Utah, the deep grey mountains dusted with bright white snow gave way to craggy tan sandstone columns and rises that completely surprised me but were no less stunning.
Patience has never been my strong suit, but Colorado and its mountains were definitely worth the wait.