Monday, August 13, 2007

Top of the World

This weekend we took some time to be together as a family before Puff and Buddy both leave for their separate schools. Puff leaves tomorrow.

So we found ourselves in Colorado Springs this weekend, where we went from the top of the world, to the center of the earth. Ok, maybe not the center... but we were in some pretty cool caves!
Here's the view from Pike's Peak:

If you look closely, you can see Kansas. Really.

We had SO much fun over the weekend. It was something we really needed to do.

We did have an experience that I'm still mulling over.
When we boarded the railway to go to the top of the mountain, we came in and found our assigned seats. We sat quietly listening to the conductor give his opening spiel... and then we heard it coming.

A group that was very loud, and very obviously NOT local. We cringed as - you guessed it - they sat directly behind us. We could no longer hear the conductor. Instead we were treated to a loud conversation about the different foods at the snack bar, and why the hamburger was better than the hotdog. Or whatever. We also got to hear about their dread of getting on planes. Any planes, but particularly the one that would take them all back to New Jersey. The 3 teen boys, 2 teen girls, and 2 sets of parents were nice enough, and really had no idea that they were being obnoxious. And did I mention they were loud? I gave The Brain a look - and we just figured there was nothing we could do about it....

But as they settled in, they actually quieted down and started listening to the conductor talk. And the further down the tracks the train went, the more we liked them.

They were SO appreciative of this beautiful place we live.

Bits of information that I thought were very mundane and uninteresting were fascinating to them. For example, when the conductor mentioned that the trees with the white bark and the small round leaves were the famous Quaking Aspens, I was in mid-yawn, when their whole group jumped up and rushed over to that side of the train, so as not to miss capturing the famous trees on film.

They were genuinely awed by the beautiful surroundings that I am lucky enough to see every day. It was very endearing and somewhat amusing to hear them talk about the things they were seeing. I loved it when one of the dads misremembered (is that a word?) something he read on the plaque at the top of the mountain:
Now remember kids; the Colorado Rockies is the largest mountain range on earth. Isn't it great that we get to be here today?
They were still loud - and taking pictures with everyone hanging out the train windows like a scene from The Sound of Music - but now we liked them.
And I wondered how many times something cultural that I do has offended or annoyed someone else. Like for example the time a shopkeeper in France greeted me with a "good evening" and I nodded and smiled at her. She was offended and asked why I didn't say "bon soir" to her.

And I swear, I sat there at the top of one of the most famous mountains in the US and all I could think about was how embarrassed I was about my small-minded snap judgment of these people. Good grief! We're are all brothers and sisters, and maybe if we tried a little harder to be tolerant and patient, well it sounds trite, but the world really would be a better place, and why can't we all just get along?

Sitting on Pike's Peak, I turned into Rodney King.

And I was glad.


Randi said...

OK, now i have "can't we just all get along" rolling through my head! ;)

I always notice the beauty of where I live more when people are visiting because they can't quit talking about it! My dad goes nuts over the view from our house (we can see Pike's) but unfortunately I am just used to seeing it everyday. It is nice to have new perspective!

East of Eden said...

Pike's is one place that I've always wanted to go! I should go I live only 6 hours south--no excuses here! But, I've always wanted to go because that's the mountain that was the inspiration for "America the Beautiful".

Along the line of your post. I have a good friend who lives here in N-NM near us, and she's from Maine. She loves, loves it here, and how the red-rocks glow, or something. One day she commented how much she loved the surroundings, and asked me if I felt the same. Honestly, no, because I grew up in the West. Now, take me back east and let me sit under a really tall, and very old tree or visit a house made of rocks or see where George Washington slept, and I'm there!

Heather said...

Great perspective, that picture if fantastic. Jer has never been to CO and I keep telling him he would love it.

Maybe there'll be a job opening someday...