Westcliffe freedom

Something about the wind in my hair reminds me I’m free. The windows open, the tendrils of hair that never seem to remain in a pony tail whipping my cheeks and the watering of my eyes from the wind with the radio blaring gets me every time. And if you throw in a dirt road, well, the layers of “I can’t, I shouldn’t, what if,” all slide away into the dust my car stirs up alongside the road. The sensation of possibility is rich and life affirming. Discovery is just around the bend.

watching weather arrive

the southern edge of the Sangre de Cristo range

And the bend’s of the road on a recent trip involved a ride through the San Isabel National Forest, lush pine and fir trees along the winding twisting road where my phone stopped working and Pandora went on a hiatus. That is another part of the appeal, and here in Colorado there are countless spots where you can disappear and be forced to go off the grid and for that I am grateful.

The first part of my trip necessitated closed windows with the air conditioner on as temps climbed to 98. Despite the fake cool air, my shoulders baked and one spot on my right thigh developed a red triangle. But once I entered the forest and my thermostat dropped to 82, all that changed. I opened every window in my car, changed to a playlist and let the wind hammer my ears.

Nearing the Cliff’s or Silvercliffe and Westcliffe, I was spellbound by the Sangre de Cristo mountain range (spanish for blood of Christ) arrayed before me like an impressionist painting, soft and blue blurred. Driving into a valley where you can see for miles and miles, spy weather brewing to the south though you remain in bright sunshine, all the while under the watchful eye of enormous mountains that defy definition, gets me every time. I hope my throat never stops catching at such a sight. The name of the Sangre de Cristo’s is said to come from the red color of the range at sunrise and sunset, and for the two days I remained in Westcliffe, in the Wet Mountain Valley as that area is called, a valley at just under 8000 feet, that’s exactly what I experienced. Light that calls to every wannabe artist and makes you slip on your flip flops, jump out of your chair, grab your camera and see what you can capture.

loving the light

My true love is the written word, yes, but like the wind dancing in my hair and the thrill I get from bouncing along a dirt road in my car, I am pulled to this light. I suppose I want to hold it in my hands, the sharpness of the setting sun as colors become impossibly brilliant on a summer evening, calling to me with the voice of a little girl riding her Schwinn bike home, rusted chrome and big fat tires, and no helmet, mosquito bitten and suntanned, and knowing that these moments are the moments after all that matter.

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