Sometimes, life goes on autopilot, a veritable cruise control. Same stuff, different day. Such was the case on the evening my husband and I took a classic “after dinner drive.” We both felt a little low, be it monotony of life, tough work week, politics, riots, fires, school starting… pick one—doesn’t matter. We felt, for lack of a better word, blah. With our teenagers out and about, soaking up the final days of summer, husband and I ate dinner in silence, highlighting the blah. Dishes were put in the sink, no attempt at cleaning. Out on the deck we went; even the glorious hummingbirds failed to make us smile. We weren’t arguing, just simultaneously experiencing the doldrums.
“Wanna go for a ride?” suggests my husband while I lay on the outdoor recliner, body fully extended, staring up at the clouds. It’s amazing how they form images and dissipate within minutes.
“Sure,” as I make no movement to go, stretched out like a dog lounging in the sun.
Five minutes later, “Here,” he said, his hand extended in an offer to pull me up. Eventually, we make our way to the truck.
“Where shall we go?”
“Maybe Mount Evans?”
As soon as we enter Upper Bear Creek Road, the windows go down and the fresh breeze envelopes us. Still, no words were exchanged. Before us, the grandeur of Mount Evans unfurls under a smokey filter, a dismal reminder of the reality going on in Colorado. I decide to accept it as magnificent instead for the sake of sanity. The pups in the backseat curl around one another without whining; it almost seems they are just as captivated by our surroundings and the quiet. I’ve taken that road a thousand times to select destinations, but never in silence, never just taking it all in. The uniqueness of each home extends my curiosity. Some have perfectly manicured, bright green lawns, others are more rugged and natural in their beauty. A few look castle-like, while others are more simple and well loved. The bounty of kaleidoscope flowers, both wild and cultivated, thrive along the creek that meanders through properties like a lazy snake. Deer and elk peer around trees as we ascend further toward Mount Evans.
Cell service is unavailable. I feel a shift in my mood. It’s not necessarily happiness, but an ease in my shoulders. A calm that wasn’t there 15 minutes ago. We randomly pull over and let the dogs out, leash-less and bounding free through the wilderness. They pause and look back with smiles of gratitude. We begin to walk the road, quiet except for the birds, chipmunks and squirrels that serenade one another. The crunch of Birkenstocks on the dirt road is cathartic. A rock outcropping calls to us and we follow as if this is where we were intending to go all along.
As we approach the welcoming rocks, a view people all over the world would pay to experience comes into focus. The vista riddled with mountains of all sizes, tinted orange by a glowing sunset, causes us to pause. Then sit. Then lie down and stare up at the sky as dusk washes over us. Minutes, possibly an hour goes by until wet pup noses tickle our ears and we are awakened from our impromptu meditation. The first smiles approach our lips as we scratch and snuggle our second set of children. Even their overall attitudes seem to have been lifted as well.
Hand-in-hand, with pups on our heels, we walk back to the truck, continuing to absorb the stillness—and make our way home. The night was unexpectedly magical. All it took to lift our spirits was leaving our home and driving into nature. It reminded me of the Sunday morning rides my father used to take us on. He’d corral all of us into the wagon and drive to different places. Sometimes it was Pennsylvania Dutch Country, other times, New York State or the Jersey Shore. It didn’t matter, really, but I’ve learned that sometimes, all it takes is a little ride to shake things up, cleanse the mind and awaken the soul.