“What’s the difference between a National Monument and a National Park?” was my first question to the ranger at the Visitor’s Center. Her reply… “A monument is designated by the President and a park is voted in by Congress.” Simple. President Taft established the Colorado National Monument in 1911. It is gorgeous. I was on my way to Moab from Montrose, sadly leaving the cute cowboy behind on the eve of the weekend rodeo. He recommended a visit to the Colorado National Monument, a short veering off the path and it was well worth the leisurely meander.
Pulling into the park, the first views were spectacular along the windy road. There were tunnels that opened up into red rock views, a gorgeous hike along the rim with breathtaking drops below and views to the far horizon. The contrast from the mountains I just left was shocking and stunning, a wild beauty that hits you deep in the gut especially when your eyes are not used to it. In place of tall evergreen trees there were now cactus and scrub bushes growing out of rocks and caverns.
The hike along the ridge had excellent views, beautiful drop offs, with a blessed lack of fences to keep you from the edges. I could walk right up and dangle over the rock cliffs.
As I drive on new highways and in new states everyday, there is never time for my eyes to grow accustomed to the nuances and each day is brand new. This is one of my favorite things about adventuring. When something is familiar and I see it over and over, I can tend not to notice it anymore, rather like artwork hanging in my home. I walk by it everyday without taking it in. If I move it to a new location in the house then I have a whole new appreciation for it. I think this happens with places I’ve been, like growing up in Napa Valley. It’s only in moving away and coming back again that the depth of the beauty strikes my soul. In Love’s Labour’s Lost Shakespeare writes, “For where is any author in the world, Teaches such beauty as a woman’s eye?” This is completely out of context but my eye really is teaching me such beauty.
I read recently a quote from Joni Mitchell about her mom…“Where other parents would quote from the Bible, she would quote Shakespeare. She was a romantic woman. She encouraged me in all those old-fashioned things. I kept pressed-flower scrap books.” This makes me smile with some understanding of why I’ve related to Ms. Mitchell’s songs. Quoting Shakespeare and doing old-fashioned, romantic things have always appealed to me as well.
I am on a lonely road and I am traveling
Looking for the key to set me free
Oh the jealousy, the greed is the unraveling
And it undoes all the joy that could be
I want to have fun, I want to shine like the sun
I want to be the one that you want to see
I want to knit you a sweater
Want to write you a love letter
I want to make you feel better
I want to make you feel free(Joni Mitchell- All I Want)