It's All Beautiful
It's funny how you sometimes remember people whose paths crossed yours in only a tangential way. A guy who sat behind me on a Boston-bound flight originating from Salt Lake City a few years ago is one such character. We never exchanged a single word, yet I recall him because the poor bloke was ill: afflicted with an acute case of geographic snobbery.
After we landed and as we were taxiing to the gate at Logan Airport, he began chattering to the woman sitting next to him about the natural wonders of New England. (Loudly. Apparently he was looking for a larger audience.) Turns out this fellow wasn't much of a fan, especially when it came to the mountains. "They're not mountains; they're hills." He said he found it ridiculous that people willingly spend time there. Anyone who would do that has never seen real mountains; they don't know any better. Blah, blah, blah.
Aside from the fact that he was more than likely insulting some fellow passengers for whom this was home (we were in Boston, after all), he was also clueless about the irony. Clearly, he was the one who didn't know better.
We all have favorite places; that doesn't make others inferior. It's not a contest. It isn't a zero sum game.
As for the grandeur of expansive, imposing and exotic locations, of course they're spectacular sights. But intimate scenes and lesser-known (or little-known) out-of-the-way settings can be equally stunning. Sometimes Mother Nature shouts; other times she whispers. She's a multifaceted artist.
We have only to open our eyes and appreciate what's on display.
The towering peaks of the Rockies and Sierras are magnificent (though if you really want to talk "big" the conversation ought to begin with the Alaska Range). The mountains of the Eastern U.S. are magnificent, too - but in a completely different way. Each has its own charms.
Prairies and loess hills, low and high deserts, wetlands and marshes, old growth forests, expansive plateaus, swamps and coastal lowlands, vast plains, rivers and lakes, glaciers, tropics, rainforests, tundra...you can find all of that and more in the U.S. What a wild, wonderful, and varied cornucopia. Whether it's Nebraska or New Mexico or Tennessee - wherever you are - Mother Nature's features, unique to that place, are waiting to be admired.
Pictured here is Mount Chocorua in New Hampshire's White Mountains. Much smaller than its cousins in the west, it's never going to win an elevation award. But who cares? Chocorua is a looker. And according to my AMC White Mountain Guide, it's purported to be one of the most photographed mountains in the world.
Last call for winter recreation in Yellowstone National Park! Though it has done nothing but snow for the past month, the schedule is what it is. If you're going to be in the area and want to get in one last run, the clock is ticking. Roads will close to oversnow travel at 9pm on March 15th after which crews will begin plowing in preparation for the spring season. Weather permitting, the West Yellowstone entrance will be the first to re-open on April 16th at 8am.
In Grand Teton National Park the Inner Loop Road remains closed to vehicle traffic until May 1st, but don't count on it being groomed once we get past the middle of March. Moose-Wilson road will re-open sometime in May once plowing between Death Canyon Road and the Granite Canyon trailhead is completed.
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