This June, work brought me again to US, after a gap of almost 13 years. US was the first foreign land I had ever stepped on, at a time when I had still not found my own feet. I wasted my multiple trips there never venturing out, spending weekends in a hotel room, or going to pointless restaurants , or Walmarts!(with the exception of one trip where I found friends to enjoy the place with).
Now, 13 years wiser,and somehow with more curiosity, I was determined to explore more. Especially because it is unlikely that Colorado would be ever on my leisure trip itinerary, and yet it seems to be such a perfect place for someone like me who loves mountains so dearly.
I was staying in a suburb of Denver – Aurora, which became infamous a couple of years ago because of a cinema hall shooting. The first thing I noticed was how plain the land was. I could see long distances, because there are almost no tall trees, and positively no sky-rise buildings. Everything continues at the same level in mind-numbing monotone, until, far away, you see a few hazy mountains.
If you go closer, or if the haze clears up, you see that all those mountains have snow capped peaks. Colorado has multiple peaks which are above 14,000 ft – I was very surprised when we drove over to the first one with such ease. The altitude of Pike’s peak became palpable when we got out of the car at 14,115 ft, and felt short of breath, and terribly cold in a thin jacket.
Mount Evans was a bit more difficult to drive up to – the roads were less well paved, and often turned rough. At 14240 ft, it was also higher than Pikes peak. The most breath-taking part of the upward journey was the view of Summit lake, which reminded me of Pangong lake. In that moment, I was convinced that it was almost as beautiful as Pangong, but since then, I have had doubts on that verdict. (I feel it is only because I did not get a great picture of the lake – it is hard to rely on just memory about such things).
One of the most memorable parts of the trip was staying in a beautiful log house in Bailey (yes, AirBnB) It is not often that you get to go half way around the world and meet family there, but US is one of those places. It is so far, that at least someone you know has escaped there. Our weekend with family was great fun – over a fire in the forest, BBQs, short hikes in the area, playing monopoly all night, and tea sessions on the porch.
We had an interesting afternoon at the Garden of the Gods too (Colorado Springs). Just down from the freezing Pikes peak, we came out to this strange surreal land of red stones, and got out of the car with the intention to walk around the park. Only to meet the glare of a scorching angry sun, which, in the red-stoned grassland seemed even more fierce . We hurried back to the car, and got out for a much shorter walk in the shade of those very red structures.
The red stones almost take you back in time, standing tall and silent, in fabulous structures (one of them called the Cathedral, another called Three Graces, another Camel’s head). I felt there was a story there which no one has yet discovered – it will come out one day, for it seemed like a place a Stalker could guide you into to meet your deepest secrets or horrors.
There is much more of course, and I could only scrape the surface of this lovely land over two weekends which seemed too short. I want to say I will be back, but there is little chance of that.