Rocky Mountain Arrival: Howdy from the Hogback

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Colorado greets us with winter, the first snow on the first day of fall which, apparently, has been cancelled this year. It is frosty on the Front Range, the sky as milk-white as my iPod, which means it is dumping in the mountains. Two feet of powder in Vail and Beaver Creek! The September 23 Denver Post shouts jubilation from the ski industry and frustration from aspen leaf lovers, their annual golden foliage show cut short by the cold.

Tay, my Colorado native wife, shrugs it off as not unusual. It has snowed on her birthday plenty of times, she says.

Sixteen months ago, our trip began here, in Colorado. We sketched routes across a world atlas as the long, 2005 winter melted off Mt. Crested Butte outside the windows.

But this day, today, the day of our autumnal return to the Rockies to begin a new life, coincides with other things as well. Like Tay’s birthday. And Rosh Hashanah, first day of the Jewish New Year 5767, a day to reflect on the past year and hope for “sweetness” in the year to come.

The serendipitous convergence of so many transformative moments is a fine excuse to throw a party, it is decided, to gather with family and friends, and we sit together as if Tay and I have never been away, as if I’ve been married to her forever. After sopapillas at her favorite restaurant, we go roller skating at Fat City.

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Of course, if Colorado can deliver an early winter, it can also taketh away. Two days after we arrive, the sky clears and classic Rocky Mountain sunshine blares hotly while it remains frigid in the shade. Dry, mile-high air washes out all that road in my brain, and my muscles ache from hiking in the Hogback every day.

I don’t care where you live, if you can reach a trailhead from your front door in under ten minutes, you’ve got it made (extra points if you can get there on a bike or by foot in that time). Hopefully, wherever we end up in this state, we’ll still be able to say that. In the meantime, the sky is blue and the sky is blue and the sky is blue.

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