April 15, 2014 1:31 PM
The train is beginning to wear on me. The peaks are beautiful and the tufts of grass interlocked with patches of snow are brilliant, but I want out of the artificial environs of this train. I long to be on foot, breathing the crisp air for myself.
On the bright side, I’ve learned that Mountain Dew registers on a breathalyzer and that grapes, “really gas you up.”
We are following a gorgeous canyon dug out by the Colorado River. Conifers and shrubs are prominent along the otherwise dry, boulder strewn banks. White tufts of water rush like graceful snow ants protecting their mound.
Periodically, darkness encloses the train as we enter a cocoon-like tunnel.
We’ve passed the snow-covered portion and the land has begun to remind me of the dry desert lands of Big Bend I have grown to love.
The grass mesas at lower elevation seem more hospitable, stark, and real. The snow-capped jewels of the Rockies, while stunning, never feel real. Perhaps the beauty is too large to comprehend, simply not collapsible into the English language. For this reason, I prefer the humble grass and shrubs of an open plain.
The difference between the western US and the Midwest is profound. Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, and Iowa give glimpses into what civilization and culture have wrought upon the US. The route teems with failed habitation, factories puffing out smoke, cars and trains, a land unrecognizable to the natives of this land.
The Rocky Mountain stretch shows the audacity of incomprehensible geologic forces at work, and man’s pathetic attempt to saddle and ride a world as powerful and vindictive (rightly so) as an infuriated bronco. The towering white peaks and the burning red sand makes an overt stand against human encroachment.
We’ve reached sharp, dry cliffs. A land soaked in sun and shadows. A land where bank robbers and villains lurked in caves. A land of gold and theft, wealth and crime. Land like this tests a man, pushes him to his brink, and brings him back with the promise of challenge and adventure.