Wednesday, July 2, 2014

A Mile High

I realized after I titled this blog that I attended a panel discussion on the morality (or lack thereof) of recreational marijuana use.  Not my intended pun for the day, but I suppose I can use it as a segue of sorts.  During the talk, Fr. Peter mentioned that many who use marijuana recreationally are doing so in order to either escape from reality or to discover a sense of awe and wonder, to philosophize and ponder the deeper meaning of life.  Unfortunately, their chosen means robs them of an authentic human experience.  We were challenged to examine our own lives and identify ways not to escape reality, but to fully engage in reality, to feel that awe and wonder in the sense God intended, through His own creation, and communion with it.  As Fr. Peter said, "He created tropical fish!" We don't have to look far to be amazed.

That's waxing a little philosophical for what I want to write about, but one of the ways in which I'm routinely struck by awe and in which I find myself fully engaged in life is when I take advantage of this beautiful state.  Colorado, in all its glory and majesty, is to me, singular proof of God's existence.  Not all of the ways in which I've lived and loved Colorado are found in the outdoors, but I believe that the culture is rooted enough in beauty (whether or not people identify it as God's), that it permeates a lot of what the rest of the state is doing.  Of course, there's a lot of hedonism and narcissism and greed and godlessness in Colorado, but that's a topic for another day.  As I said...lousy segue.  I give you my favorite Colorado memories:

  • James Bond film festival at the Mayan, followed by Sweet Action Ice Cream- Broadway is an icon, and sometimes even just driving down it makes me feel part of something a little more artistic and human.  Other times, I see a guy lowriding so bad that he trips on the curb and loses his pants.  But for the most part, Broadway triggers the positive sense of culture.  And of course, who wouldn't want to listen to a five-piece band perform "Underneath the Mango Tree" live right before a 21st century showing of Dr. No?  I don't think I need to justify the Sweet Action part.
  • Mass atop Blanca Peak- Is it sad that one of my biggest regrets in life is being too self-conscious of camera noise to take a picture during the consecration?  Fr. John gave his permission to snap away, and my hand froze in my pocket (probably also literally as it was freezing at the summit) as he elevated the host, back to us, sun illuminating the Eucharist and shining over the incredible mountain range below us.  That moment, the whole trip really, was a combination of two of my true loves: Catholicism and the mountains.
  • Film on the Rocks- I have a lot of these memories, but my favorite was tailgating before the movie with a little gas Coleman grill, feasting on kabobs and grilled pineapple, drinking some good craft beer, heading in just in time to catch Marc Broussard in concert, and then enjoying a movie under the stars.  To be honest, I don't even remember what movie played that night.  But the whole experience was quintessentially Colorado.  Although I do remember in detail my film experience of the Princess Bride in which I got to be in the majority for once as I quoted nearly an entire movie.  Inconceivable!
  • Camping in the Collegiate Peak Wildnerness- the hiking was forgettable, but the camping was awesome.  It helped that it had been years since I'd been camping, so anything involving a fire and sleeping under the stars was probably going to amazing.  It's too bad the trip was marred by our least successful 14er attempts ever.  But not even the extra watery scrambled eggs (read the directions, Dad!) or the wind or the missed trail could ruin the trip.  Honorable mention goes to my most recent camping experience, full of five-star food (ashes 'n' pancakes, yum) and relaxation and good friends.
  • Memories I only have pictures of- despite the attempt of soccer tournaments to muscle out any other Colorado time, I do know that we had some highlights of my childhood.  Horseback riding in Royal Gorge, multiple trips to the Great Sand Dunes (if you haven't been- go NOW), fireworks after a USA v. Cuba baseball game, etc.  Even if the recollection is blurry, I know that my parents made an effort to show me some of this beautiful state.
  • Snowmobiling the Continental Divide- a long weekend trip with Mary to Steamboat Springs offered a lot of of Colorado-y things, including my favorite apres-ski slopeside with happy hour specials, snowshoeing a ski resort, James Bond marathons (not exactly Colorado), and some good skiing.  But the highlight was snowmobiling, rocketing over jumps, weaving down single-tracks, and taking in some of the most gorgeous scenery on the planet.  
  • Brewery tastings- it's no secret that I love craft beer, and our state has a LOT to offer.  Avery, Backcountry, Breckenridge, Bristol, Bull & Bush, Comrade, Copper Kettle, Denver Beer Co, Dillon Dam, Dry Dock, Epic, Gravity. Grist, Hogshead, Lone Tree, Prost, Renegade, Rickoli, Station 26, 38 State, 12 Degree, Tommyknocker, Twisted Pine, Wit's End... you get the idea.  I just like tasting the experiments, spending time with friends, seeing the culture, and watching someone's passion grow.
  • Miscellany (because my coffee is getting cold and I have other things to do)- hiking in Chautauqua Park, time spent at St. Malo's, any trip to the REI flagship store, lazy boating on Lake Dillon, running in Wash Park, lunch on any summit, hiking Bierstadt in the dark, tandem bikes at City Park, singing the sun down at STM, snowshoeing in Grand Lake, and many others I'm sure I'm forgetting.  
If I could take the time to create more of these memories by fully living an authentically human life, seeking goodness, truth and beauty rather than seeking escape, I think I would be doing pretty well.

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I reserve the right to make this blog as worthless to read as I feel like, and also to write as infrequently as I deem necessary. Just thought I'd let you know since I finally decided to share my blog.