Tag Archives: imagination

Why I Love the American West


Eight o’clock rolls around. Along a wide open highway in Utah, bolts of lightning off in the distance illuminate the sky. Gentle rain taps on my vehicle. Yet, straight above, stars can be seen dotting the night sky in a manner that instills wonder into the hearts and minds of all who are paying attention to what is around them.


I wonder too. The lights of the car in front of me provide tiny clues as to what is actually there, but reveal preciously little. The rest is left to the imagination of all who travel at night on an unfamiliar highway.

I imagine a scene that could be out of a movie. A ranch house with a gigantic yard and one of those large swirly structures that starts twirling in the wind, like the one in the movie Twister. Miles and miles of endless open range with a mountain range that can be seen off in the distance. A 9-year old boy with his younger sister looking out the window, with a sense of wonder, at the storm rolling through a typically dry place. Dogs barking at tumbleweeds. A community of people alone together in a dry, isolated place.

I typically would not chose to travel at night, especially in a place like this. Utah is a place of abundant natural beauty, always shifting with the season.

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In March, the spring sun at mid-day shines bright upon the white snow on the mountain tops, brown forests and red rocks below.


The reddish looking glow, revealed by the headlights at night, gave but a small indication of what Utah actually looks like in the middle of March. Some combination of memory, imagination, and reasoning would lead anyone to conclude that the land was not dull, flat, barren, but how many would have imagined the cut out canyons, the rock structures, salt washes, and many viewpoints of unique natural features.


The other thing lost in my imaginative narrative about the family on the ranch in the storm is the fact that, with the exception of the occasional small town, there are no people here at all. Sure, there are the people who are driving along the interstate overlooking the various features. Five miles in either direction, there are no farms, ranches, or even people, just rocks, sagebrush, and wildlife. Had my imagination been more accurate, it would have been a story about moose, bighorn sheep, or perhaps a family of black bears getting in an argument about when to wake up from winter hibernation.

Still, there is something to be said about leaving some things up to the imagination. Much of what we experience today; movies, art, and even technology, began in someone’s imagination. While some people are naturally imaginative all the time, and some people only resort to their imagination quite rarely, not having all the facts can help trigger people imagine more. This makes it ironic that some of our present day technology, born of imagination, actually causes some people to engage their imaginative abilities less!

My imagined scene, of a family in a ranch house near Green River, UT was not nearly as spectacular as what actually is Central Utah’s unique landscapes. However, that will not always be the case. Sometimes our imagined world is, in fact, better than the actual reality we are experiencing. And, sometimes, there is something beautiful about being given but a small hint and riddle to solve regarding what is in front of you.


Sometimes, it is good to have the opportunity to travel at night.



A Weekend to Remember for Under $100?

Genesee Park is a place I had never really thought too much about.  For most of my first year and a half in Colorado, I was barely aware of it’s existence.  I mostly knew that there was some kind of park at the spot along Interstate 70 where the high peaks of the Rocky Mountains first appear, which is about half an hour west of Denver.  But, on most of those trips I would be on my way to the ski resort, or some other destination that is more well known, and farther West along the interstate.  With about half a day’s worth of spare time, and little appetite for a long drive, as holiday travels await, I decided to explore this area and see what I would find.

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Not surprisingly, I was the only person at Genesee Park today.  Not only is it off-season for places like this, but it is also a weekday, a time when most other people are working.  In addition, the park was closed for the season.  Being alone in a place like this is somewhat of a strange experience, especially for someone who is accustomed to an urban environment, with a plethora of noise and crowds.  However, being completely alone was what allowed me to truly tap into my imagination and discover what could come of a place like this during the summertime.

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What surprised me about this mountain park were the plethora of available activities.  The two short red poles are obviously for horseshoes, and the two taller metal poles are for setting up a volleyball net.

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Additionally, the park had a pretty wide open softball field, which even included a home plate and a backstop.  Combined with a subtle smell of wood near the stoves adjacent to the picnic tables and I instantly imagined myself here on a warm summer’s day, with groups of campers taking part in a multitude of activities.  I pictured not only the activities the park is specifically set up for, but a multitude of others, such as Ultimate Frisbee, or just simply goofing off with all of the logs and pine cones all over the ground.  Children seem to never run out of things to do at a place like this, but sometimes a weekend up here can bring out that imaginative side of adults as well.  With the right group of people, a simple weekend away at a place like this could prove to be quite memorable.

It also dawned on me that the experiencing I am currently imagining at this place would also be quite inexpensive, at least compared to many other activities.  I did not do the math, to calculate the cost of gas, food, tents, etc., but I could not imagine it coming out to more than $100 per person.  In fact, it could end up being quite a bit less.  Just the thought of having an incredible weekend like this for such a small price demonstrates what is really important in this world.

It is odd that Christmas time, a time originally designed for people to reflect on what is really important in life, can now have the opposite effect.  Regardless of what people think of the practice, few people avoid the stress involved in purchasing Christmas gifts at this time of year.  But, what is it that people really want?  And what do people really need for Christmas?  After a quick mental survey of the people I know, as well as society as a whole, I came to the conclusion that while a new shirt may help someone’s confidence, and a new game may prove fun to play with, we are generally looking in the wrong places to satisfy ourselves.  What many of us need is not a new gadget, or an expensive coat.  What we need is more subtle.  We need things like companionship, appreciation, a sense of purpose, and security.  These are the things that we can often find at places like Genesee Park when we share experience with one other, and share ourselves with one another amongst the breathtaking backdrop of some unexpected mountain views.

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However, it seems to me that all too often, rather than looking to places like Genesee, or to the people around us to fulfill what we need in life, we look to places like this.


I will certainly give and receive presents this Christmas.  Some may even excite me quite a bit.  But, in the long run, the things that matter most will be more reflected in the way we view ourselves, the way we view life, the people around us, the way we treat one another, and the experiences we all have.