Checking off

bucket list

“Those are the Rockies ahead of us!” my husband exclaimed looking forward to seeing another item on his bucket list. The van hauled us up to the Rocky Mountains on a smoothly paved road, quite unlike the path pioneers took in covered wagons. I never have seen so many broken blocks of granite precariously balanced for miles around us. Yet hundreds of bike riders come from around the world to pedal 100 miles every day for seven days in the Mavic Rockies event. We had no desire to join them for one day. We only posed for pictures on bikes designed to look like butterflies.

Our route to the next famous park took us through Monument Valley, where natural, massive sculptures pierce the flat valley.

Hubby checked another couple items on his bucket list with a helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon. The pilot, originally from Denmark, pointed out features of the big red hole in the flat plain of scrubby trees. Our fellow passengers (from Romania and Germany) took their share of photos of the canyon.

Afterward we said that the best perspective of the Grand Canyon was walking to the guardrail-protected edge. Many ignored the barriers to pose for “Look, Ma! No ground beyond this point!” pictures. One man sat on the edge, leaned way back and stuck his feet straight over the nothingness.

The tour bus driver said, “of the five to six million visitors who come to the park from around the world each year, three or four die from falls.”

I insisted that my husband “Stay on this side of the railing. I don't want that picture. I want you to drive me home.”

Later, early in the morning, my brother, BJ, drove us to the top of Pike's Peak for a fog free view. The road is carved out of the mountain with minimal road space to spare. He commented on the day's lack of traffic.

“Do they have many cars go over the edge?” I asked.

“No. Only some cars during the car races to the top,” he assured me.

When I said, “I feel dizzy,” he said, “breathe deeply.”

I huffed and puffed. I didn't look too closely out the window, nor did I lean out to take pictures. I didn't want to tip the truck over the edge. I welcomed the flat top of Pike's Peak with plenty of room to safely view mountains miles away on the other side of the valley. I walked slowly and took deep breaths. On the way down we passed the cog train hauling passengers to the top. At the base we drove pass miles of late comers waiting to buy tickets to go to the top.

“I have never seen the cars backed up this far,” BJ observed.

Go early, avoid the crowds.

Or go late, as we did to Natural Bridges National Monument. We arrived late in the day. No wind, no sounds of traffic, no crowd of people. We silently traversed the short trail to view each arch to take pictures.

I skipped walking the trail to view Black Canyon with black rocks and loose gravel path. I waited in the car for hubby to take pictures.

We both enjoyed Dinosaur National Park - a mountain of bones under glass, except one section where I reached forward and touched real dinosaur bones still imbedded in the the mountain.

So much to see, but duties called. We returned home where I added one thing to my bucket list: lean way back in the lounge chair and do nothing.

Joan Hershberger may be reachedat Hershberger is a retired journalist who has written her award-winning, slice-of-life columns for more than a decade and may be reached at joanh@eldoradonews. com. She lives in Parkers Chapel.