Friday, December 30, 2011

Mountains and Valleys, Version 2011

We got back from our trip to Pigeon Forge, TN yesterday. It was a good trip, albeit a lot of driving. The cabin was nice. It was part of a multi-home development that went up the mountainside. I can't say I agree with the mentality of destroying mountains with this kind of developmental blight, but the view was spectacular.

While we were there, I saw the need for hiking to the top of the mountain. It was a small mountain, but the climb was steep at times. Once I got past the paved section of road, it turned to gravel, so it wasn't that difficult of a climb, just strenuous. It was far from a nature hike in that I passed lots of empty electrical and water utility boxes that were set into the ground as part of future development. It looked to be a case of a development that had either lost its funding in the housing bust, or was just planned for slow development as the money came in.

When I got to the top, I took a few pictures and the bad video you see on this blog. It was a great view, but I've been to higher places. I "summited" this hiccup of a mountain with Ben on Wednesday. When we got there I placed a dollar bill on a flat rock on the summit. I weighed it down using two small rocks so it wouldn't blow away. I did it just to freak out the next person who chooses to find the highest spot on a non-descript Tennessee mountain. Ben thought it was kind of a cool idea. I just think its fun speculating what the person might do when they get to it.

It seems that my past few vacations have taken me to the mountains. From the Great Smokies, to the Adirondacks, to Colorado, we've seen all heights. I'm not sure if it's just coincidence that we've vacationed to these high spots or if there's some sort of unconscious intent to push ourselves as a family to higher heights. It started, I think, with Colorado. The massive mountains out that way just kind of take your breath away.

Driving to to the top of Trail Ridge Road and taking the Cog Railway to the top of Pikes Peak just kind of imprinted on us how small we are. At the same time, they allowed us to see life from a new perspective. It's one thing to look up in wonder at the mountains, but another to look down and out at the expanse of the world. Both can be life changing events, but first you need to look up to understand why you want to go there.

For me and my family, this year has been one of high mountain tops and some extremely deep valleys. While no one likes to dwell for long in the valley, life can't always be a mountain top experience either. They come as a set. There's a reason for both, and this year I found out more about what those reasons are.

Goodbye 2011. Here's to a happy and healthy 2012.

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