"One day some of the other teachers and I decided to go on a trip to 14,000-foot Pikes Peak. We hired a prairie wagon. Near the top we had to leave the wagon and go the rest of the way on mules. I was very tired. But when I saw the view, I felt great joy. All the wonder of America seemed displayed there, with the sea-like expanse"
Katherine Lee Bates recalling the experience that inspired her renowned patriotic anthem, "America The Beautiful." A professor at Wellesley College, the piece was born of a trip to Pikes Peak during the summer of 1893 when teaching a short summer school session at Colorado College.
The myriad and diverse wonders of the American landscape could be marveled from the earth she stood. What she viewed prompted her to hurriedly jot in her journal what is now the most famous lyrical testament to America's spacious skies, amber waves of grain, and purple mountain majesties.
Modestly well-traveled. I can boast dipping in the Mediterranean. Jet skiing in the Caribbean. Dallying about West Palm Beach. Having a brew in D.C. ...I've never ventured west of Atlanta, GA.
Ignominiously the only one of my friends lacking a lascivious tale of a rollicking Las Vegas adventure.
Earlier this month I journeyed the six hour flight to Seattle, WA.
A trans-am virgin no more.
There were two people in addition to myself in our row. I wanted the window seat. Got the aisle. Better than the middle. The three of us were a multi-racial/cross-generational This American Life wet dream. Ira Glass you missed out .
Henry - From Oregon. Circa 58 y.o. Teaches advanced theater globally. Favors Ralph Lauren with a Dustin Hoffman visage. Owns a modernized cabin 50 miles south of Seattle near a mountain base. Returning from an engagement in Morocco, he's previously been commissioned long-term throughout the East, Europe, Africa, Latin America, and top-tier universities in the U.S. Taking a few weeks to rejuvenate, he's headed in August to teach in Korea. His finger nails were painted neon green with yellow polka-dots. But he wasn't an eccentric? His niece painted them for him. He promised to keep it on as good luck while traveling. Was reading Daniel Pink's A Whole New Mind. He was engaging, warm and trusting. Wise and stern. A personal Mikael Blomkvist.
Simón - From Bolivia. Precocious pre-teen. Bright. Reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Filled the plane with unbridled laughter during its presentation of several episodes of The Middle. Is it really that funny? Maybe one day I'll watch before catching Modern Family. When he bored of the former he initiated a discussion of Dan Brown novels with myself and Henry. But that isn't his favorite topic. Keen and animated interest in planes. Knows every type and model. Took at least 100 pictures from his seat of the different aircraft on the tarmac. Good thing he got the window seat. Would not have surprised me if he were a child agent with the Bolivian Air Force. Articulate and gentle spirit. Kept up effortlessly with the conversation of his considerably older travel mates. Sometimes enervating, but never annoying. He was a boy. A nice astute and excited kid. Like this kid. Visiting uncle in Seattle for 15 days. As we fly over a cluster of mountains including Mount Rainier and Mount St. Helens he tells us,
"When I come to the states it feels like coming home. ...You know I lived here for seven years. Nothing is like here. Wow... it's beautiful isn't it?"
I-95 boasts urban meccas of dépêche mode and industry.
Still, nothing compares to the vast Pacific Northwest.