Also known as the travel itch, the travel bug seems to wander into our lives right around these first weeks of spring. The days grow longer, the sun shines brighter, the roses in our yard begin to show signs of color. Awakening from our dark winter slumbers, we desperately want to be outside. There’s a whole world out there to explore, yet summer vacations seem too distant to satisfy the itch.
During the winter, our schedules bog down with tasks and to-dos, laundry lists of this and that. Spring cleaning brings more chores. And though the aroma of the open road sits just beneath the dust, can we make it to Memorial Day, the marker of all things summer?
My mind is heavy with this question as I finish a full and robust week of work on Friday afternoon. The weekend is actually free from responsibility, but the limited two days off keeps me pinned down to familiar territory. As we drive to Winter Park for this season’s last skiing, I realize I’m looking at my Saturday and Sunday from the wrong perspective. . .
We cross the Continental Divide at Berthoud pass. I can see mountains stretching nearly sixty miles to the north, and I notice shadows shooting down the ridge lines of Bear Claw Peak (my favorite Rocky Mountain). To the southwest, mountains disappear into the deep blue of late dusk, as the full moon later rises over Devil’s Thumb. These are peaks and geologic features I’ve marveled at many times, so many times that I’ve forgotten how fortunate I am to be amidst such beauty so regularly.
How often do I shuffle the familiar aside, failing to recognize the profound visual poetry of the everyday? How often do I long for the exotic, foreign land, when the most stunning vista awaits my gaze from the back deck?
So instead of falling into the travel itch despair, I fight the urge by spending the weekend moving towards a stronger enjoyment for the world right in my own yard. I smile away the afternoon, book-in-hand, listening to the trains roar towards their next destination. Later, we pull the car over to watch an Osprey hunt a lake we’ve driven by dozens of times, a momentary pause that draws my attention to another stunning, familiar mountain.
At Grand Lake Brewing Company, a spot we’ve visited on multiple occasions, I sip an Oatmeal Stout in which I discover a renewed appreciation for their approach to beer. Our enthusiasm is met with a mutual smile from the bartender, who pours us a small taste of a nine-year-old, carbonated-free barley wine. This is the brewer’s special batch, Holy Grail, but they are more than happy to share with a fellow craft beer freak.
It’s a simple realization, one I’ve come to before, but that I always so easily forget . . . I stick my nose deep into the beer sample and I savor the two drops that touch my tongue, lighting up my taste buds with a cool-caramel, whiskey malt . . . every ounce of life, whether far-away or right here, should be enjoyed with our most alert intensity.