When people learn that I’m a traveler they often ask me what the most beautiful place I’ve been to is. When I reply that it’s the US they often look at me in disbelief, as if thinking “I didn’t expect him to be so nationalistic.” The thing is I’m not nationalistic. It’s simply that the natural splendor of the western US is really unlike anything I’ve seen before.
These past two weeks of biking through the desert have reminded me of just how true that is. Each day as I bike, I think there couldn’t be a more beautiful place to ride and the next day I relive the wonder as the landscape morphs into yet another new, strange and wonderful shape.
For those of you who have never been to the area, I can’t recommend it enough. Photos are nice, but the grand scale of panoramas like the one at Dead Horse Point , where the Canyonlands stretch out for a hundred miles 2,000 feet below you, simply cannot be captured by a flimsy two-dimensional image.
Biking adds yet another layer to the appreciation. 50 plus miles of untouched wilderness are passed so easily in a car, but on a bike the amazing scale of unoccupied land reveals its true significance. Of course riding through 100 degree weather isn’t always the easiest on the body, but even that grants a new appreciation to the stories of settlers and native Americans who explored and covered these lands, very often on foot.
We’ll soon be entering the Rocky Mountains, which have a beauty and challenge all their own, but even if the trip were to end right now I’d be grateful for the beauty I’ve been lucky enough to see. What a world…