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Road Trip Stories: The Monument

Despite my general feelings about social media, one thing I appreciate about Facebook is the memory feature. It prompts gratefulness by recalling good memories with friends, provides perspective by revisiting the exhaustion of grad school while waiting tables full-time, and it astounds me by letting me know it's been five years since that trip to the Colorado National Monument in Fruita.

One of the big themes of this trip was facing phobias, in particular my not being much of a fan of heights. Much of everything there is to see and do at the Monument sits atop the mesas. Touring Rim Rock Drive which hugs the edge of a sheer cliff kept my adrenaline pumping.

But I wasn't going to be kept from the epic views by my nerves and what they could do with a vivid imagination. The switchbacks and precipices provided sweeping vistas of the rock formations and all their age-old stories.

I made my way to the cliff before dawn, just in time to watch the molten light hit the crest and slowly set the entire canyon into a silent, beautiful blaze. After a good bit of meditating in the immensity of that scene, I headed down the switchback to town to get a little breakfast.

About halfway down the climb, a bighorn sheep was crossing the road before me. It was still early and no one else was coming or going on the road, so I stopped right there to get a shot of him. He deftly made his way up the rocky slope, but seemed to stop and pose for me before continuing on.

Speaking of being given perspective and prompted to be grateful, the ancient grandeur and profound silence of the Monument was the perfect place to experience both.

Life is short. See what's out there.

Mike Ensley, MA, LPCC is a counselor in Loveland, CO, and an avid National Park explorer & photographer.


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