I was touched and honored!
(And yes, I will be Paying it Forward so be on the lookout for that!)
We woke up at our regular hour this morning (that being sometime around 6 a.m. as that is about the time we get up each day to drag ourself to work)to the S word! (Some might conjecture that I might mean that the dog had done his/her business on the carpet but I have no pets and as generally we are a clean lot, you can figure that I do not mean there was anything on the carpet that smelled and would require scrubbing.)
Glancing out the window there was a blanket of whiteness covering the ground and a white coverlet overhead portended more of the frozen whiteness in our future. We let out a collective groan and fell back to sleep, thankful that it was a day off and we didn't have to get outside to face cold snow-filled shoes or shoveling (no point shoveling till most of it had finished). I considered bundling up to take some pictures... after all, freshly fallen snow can be lovely in pictures for those looking at it. Alas, it is not pretty to me and I had no will to find any loveliness in it today.
So, instead: We journey instead into the past (on one of my Friday's off after dropping off my son at school) when I adventured to the Foothills for some solitude...
In a car not terribly mountain worthy, I dared not drive too vertically before I find someplace to park. I'd headed up Highway 285 knowing that I might find a quiet path not too far from the main roads when the sign ahead caught my eye and I decided to veer right to the infamous Amphitheater-- Red Rocks.
Red Rocks has some personal history for me-- I attended several concerts here (at one having gotten very drunk and... well, let's not finish that particular story.) But I also graduated here and stood on the stage with the band and choir awaiting the diploma that would see me out of high school and on to so-called higher education. I stood at the base of the red clay rocks recalling my history here (at least all that I could) and marveled at the changes that have occurred. And then headed on my way...
There are several quiet paths amidst the towering rock and after a false start (batteries dead in the camera! damn! Thankfully Red Rocks is made for tourists and the tourist shop opened at 9) I headed off.
(This path seemed innocuous enough as I first started up the slope but quickly realized that the top half of the incline was loose rock.)
It was a quiet morning... the people I ran into were ambitious exercise types who were stair-stepping in the amphitheater. I, having no interest in seeing the familiar concert hall, wanted the solitude of the back paths and this is what I received...
As I stand here, looking at the red shale of Red Rocks, I am a Time Traveler in the most literal sense of the word. While the Rocky Mountains that lie to the right of the camera's lens are older, this exposed shale is 300 million years old-- at least that is when the sand was first deposited in their current location.
And over millions more years, dinosaurs roamed this region, laying their eggs, devouring their prey, and harvesting the plant life... then at the end of their life finally lying down to die and leaving behind their remains for us to find like giant puzzles in the clay. In fact, not too far from this point lies the Morrison Formation- a spot which has produced some of the largest dinosaurs that have ever lived and finds are still common there- academic studies an ongoing event.
(by the way-- Rusty Ol' Bastard, a.k.a. ROB is the car parked at the bottom of the hill)
Something about the rugged way the rocks lay against each other and perhaps the craggy lips that jut out above you... it as though they have been tumbled there under violent circumstances and you can very easily imagine a world in turmoil as volcano and earthquake push the shale and sandstone up toward the blue skies of Colorado.
Red Rocks was originally known as The Garden of Angels and is a favorite of performers because of it's natural acoustics which are not duplicated anywhere else in the world. (Having sung on the stage, I can tell you that it is a remarkable place to sing with beautiful scenery as a backdrop!).
It is tempting to many to attempt to climb these rocky outlays-- in fact when I was young (that would be about the same time the dinosaurs walked the earth), it was a favorite activity to head to Red Rocks in the summer and do some rock climbing. A challenging climb and a lovely day all to be had a mere 30 minute's drive from home! Alas, like so many pleasures of youth, signs abound...
Climbing on the lowest, most inoffensive boulder seems to alert the ever vigilant Park Rangers so I will wind my way back to my car on this walkway for concert goers- careful to keep my feet on the cemented path. The "$999 dollar fee or 100 days in jail or both" that is exacted for heading off into verboten areas is not worth it in my humble opinion.
The winter months have changed the timbre of my day's off. The shortened days, bare branches and cold breezes do not invite me to linger out of doors... that along with feeling the limitations of time. I have fewer hours to write so my day's off need to be spent Getting Things Done rather than meandering the rockways and backways of the Foothill.
I can't wait till spring!