I was 33 when I went to geology field camp, prior to graduation with my Bachelor’s. Five of us were headed to the same destination from the University of South Florida that year, so it was nice to be amongst friends for the long journey ahead from Florida to Montana. The camp was offered by the University of Arkansas and headed by a professor named Dr. Doy Zachry. As I drove out of my driveway that early morning in May, I’ll never forget looking back at my two boys, ages 4 and 5, and my husband in front of our little, white house with orange shutters. It would be seven weeks without them and I was torn. Very torn. Guilt wracked me more and more with every turn, as I made my way to Tampa and every muscle ached already – almost as if I had been away for much longer than ten minutes.
But I continued, despite knowing I’d miss them terribly and before I knew it, I was standing in front of four University of Arkansas vans that were filled with students from all over the country who were eager to be on their way. This was actually the beginning. We would travel through several states including Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho and of course, Montana. Places I had never seen with many people I hardly knew.
We headed west through Kansas, passing golden fields, wind turbines and small, quaint towns along the long roadway towards Colorado. As we continued west, I could have never imagined the sight that I would behold for the first time. I didn’t pay much attention to the long line of puffy, white clouds that drew us in, but as we drove closer, these clouds grew larger and gave way to the peaks of snowcapped mountains that jetted upward, some taller than the clouds with the reflection of the sun glistening on the snow. I kept thinking how beautiful the mountains were becoming and felt overwhelmed for some reason I can’t quite explain. And as I stood before them just below the Front Range, the enormity of these mountains became real. “Majestic” is all I kept thinking – like the song. It was true. They were majestic. The immenseness of their existence, so tall, so absolutely beautiful with a color pallet I had never seen before took my breath away. It was actually too much to take in all at once and I had to look away towards Denver and then look back again towards the mountains as if to pinch myself. I grew up near the Catskills of New York, but no way did they compare to the grandness of the Rockies. Everything I read in college textbooks was standing in front of me and the opportunity to see all the rock formations, faults, erosion properties, snow, vegetation, rivers and animals finally sparked a sense of excitement over this adventure, and as I grew closer to Red Rocks, I knew I would never be the same. It was one of the most poignant moments in my life. If you ever have the opportunity to see the Rockies, don’t fly into Denver, or Colorado Springs, or anywhere else around them. Drive towards them! There’s nothing like the first view as you come upon the Rockies. “For purple mountains majesties…”
This is a link to a picture that captures the majestic view while driving in.