Vail Daily columnist Linda Stamper Boyne: Luxury lady goes camping
Vail, CO, Colorado
I told a friend recently of a plan to go to Moab this past weekend. She replied, “What are you going to do in Moab?”
I need to make sure this sentence is written so you understand the meaning correctly. The word “you” had the most emphasis. What are YOU going to do in Moab?
Now, this is the friend with whom I had a conversation in which I was trying to say that I was athletic, but it somehow came out of my mouth as outdoorsy. We both laughed so hard at my misspoken description of myself because I’m just really not outdoorsy at all. And at any opportunity to use that mis-description of me, she will. And we laugh each time.
Her question was a valid one. Why, of all the places I could go for a weekend, would I choose Moab? There was no shoe shopping, no five-star resort and spa, no upscale fine dining where someone would make me my high-maintenance cocktail. In her mind, Moab is only camping and mountain biking.
And I don’t camp; I used my camping allocation up in childhood. To take a trip centered around mountain biking seemed completely out of character.
The answer stems from an excursion to the Beaver Creek Arts Festival in August. Standing in a booth full of nature photographs, I marveled, as I always do, at the shots of swirling caves full of light, fiery red sandstone formations against an impossibly blue sky and deep layered canyons as far as the photos can show. When I told the friend I was with that I had never been to any of these places, it was announced that I would be going.
I love being friends with people who are doers. I can talk about something, about wanting to see or do a specific thing, but rarely put in action a plan to actually do it. So thanks to my action-oriented friend, I spent a weekend in Arches and Canyonlands national parks.
I think I’m dehydrated from my trip, not so much from the arid desert environment but from having my mouth hanging open in awe. Arches was completely stunning. Hiking right amongst and on these incredible rock formations, literally being able to see the evolution of the Earth, was energizing and inspiring.
Canyonlands blew my mind. I could not wrap my head around the vastness of what I was seeing. Layered canyons carved by the Colorado and Green rivers half a mile deep. Tall monoliths rising up from these depths, all for as far as my eyes could see. I had to take a nap after exploring this park; it was just too much to comprehend.
A bus full of British tourists pulled up to one overlook where we had stopped in Canyonlands. They started in Denver and went north to Rocky Mountain National Park, then Yellowstone and Grand Tetons and were doing the Utah parks on their way to the Grand Canyon. I got sensory overload just hearing about their trip.
With all that they had seen, it was their descriptions of the scenery before them that stuck with me. One woman said, “This is brilliant. Simply brilliant!” Right after that, and I kid you not, a man said, “Blimey!”
There are 58 national parks in 27 states, two-thirds of them in the western United States, and close to a dozen within several hours’ drive of my doorstep. We even have four national parks right here in Colorado: Mesa Verde and Rocky Mountain National Park are among the oldest and two of the most recently designated parks, Black Canyon of the Gunnison (1999) and Great Sand Dunes (2004).
How is it that I haven’t been to most of these?
I visited quite a few in my childhood. My parents wanted us to see at least one site within the national park system per year. We did Crater Lake, Redwoods, Yosemite and Yellowstone, as well as many other national monuments, historic sites and state parks over the years. At the time, I may have complained, but now, I am thankful.
I’m now determined to see as many national parks as I can. And, risking eye rolling and objections, I want to take my boys to see these amazing places so they can appreciate how vast, varied and beautiful our country is.
Linda Stamper Boyne, of Edwards, can be contacted through firstname.lastname@example.org.