Friday, June 13, 2008

You Can Go Home Again

Some readers know that Jean and I are going home tomorrow, despite Tom Wolfe's "You Can't Go Home Again." He also wrote, "Sorry, But Your Soul Just Died." And that one's not true, either. We lived in Manchester, NH, for almost forty years, raised our family of four sons there, and spent a good part of each year at Jean's family home, which her parents had bought in 1940. The Brown House on Sea Rose Lane, in Pine Point, Maine, where our front yard was Grand Beach, seven miles long.

We left New Hampshire in 1997 for our discovery of the West, settled in Fort Collins, Colorado, and worked for a company based at Lake Tahoe, California. It had offices in San Diego and Dover, NH, back where our roots were. We toured all the western states and criss-crossed America, from the Pacific to the Atlantic twelve times during the next four years. Indeed, our Great Adventure.

Retirement came in 2001. Our home in NH had been long sold. The one in Maine beckoned us full-time, and we stayed in sort of a gentile retirement, until taxes and our own wander-wonder-lust moved us on and out and back to – you guessed it, Colorado, that unique among states with three geologies. On the east, the High Plains, at 5,000 feet, nestled up against the foothills to the Rocky Mountains, known to Coloradans as The Front Range. This time we chose Longmont, about twenty miles south of Fort Collins where we had lived before. Longs Peak, 14,255 feet, is framed by our bedroom window. It is one of the 14-ers, those Rocky Mountains which exceed 14,000 feet. The Rockies are the second of the geologies, surging down through the middle of the state. The third is the Great Plateau, all the way west to the Sierras, through Utah and Nevada into California.

Easterners, particularly New Englanders, who do live in another of America's treasure lands, can never know the grandeur of the West, until they spend several years living here. It is magnificent. It is awesome. And it is hard to leave, even when going home.

In a blog recently, I wrote:

All the above sounds good, reads well. But, it is a close one. Like 9 - 7, in the bottom of the ninth, with two men on, two outs, and the slugger of the team at bat. The pitcher is tired. Or, it's 4th and 1 in the Super Bowl, the losing team on its own 45, 24 - 21, a few more yards for a field goal try, 30 seconds on the clock. But it could be what the ultras jeer it is: just pie in the sky, or Lucy in the sky with diamonds.

That eases the pain of leaving Colorado to be with our youngest grandchildren in Manchester, NH, ages 5 and 3, because the sports references show that we are going home to the sports capitol of the world. The Celtics came back last night from 20 points down to beat the Lakers 97 – 91. My home town of Boston hosts the Bruins and the Red Sox. All of New England claims the Patriots.

You Can Go Home Again.

As a farewell to one of the greatest of our 50, we spent a week with our oldest son in Dillon, smack square in the middle of Summit County in the heart of the Rockies. From there we went to the places which had taken our hearts: the Front Range, from Cheyenne, Wyoming, all the way down to Taos, New Mexico, and back up through the Sangre di Cristo mountains valley; a long awaited adventurous drive in our RAV4 on Trail Ridge Road, the highest paved road in the USA, around 12,000 feet – like Lake Tahoe, where we spent many working visits at the highest mountain lake in the USA, making our high points the highest on land and on water; to Leadville, an old mining town that looks like it used to be, though a bit touristy, not too much, at 10,150 feet; and the trip of trips yesterday due west out of Dillon and Frisco and Copper Mountain, west on I-70, to Glenwood Springs. The last part of that trip is through Glenwood Canyon, rivaling Emerald Bay in Lake Tahoe, as the most beautiful, inspiring places in this country of ours. When we get off the plane tomorrow, in Manchester,NH, at 4:22,pm, home after eleven years away, and back in the Merrimack Valley, we will always have our Great Adventure in the West deep in our remembery.

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