Monday, October 5, 2009
Rocky Mountain High
It's ironic that Colorado is such a haven for creationists, since they live among some of the most beautiful and compelling evidence of the Earth's geologic history. The Black Canyon of the Gunnison -- where 170 million year old sandstone (much of the tan in the desert's color scheme) sits directly on top of igneous rocks ten times as old -- has its two billion year history written everywhere you look. Fossils are everywhere. It's impossible for me to look at this stuff and imagine believing that the Earth is 7000 years old. I am no stranger to having faith in the face of contradicting evidence, but it's something I'm trying to do less of, not more.
It's a wierd vibe in Colorado, at least on the western face of the Rockies. If you haven't been I can't explain it. If you have, an explanation is probably not necessary. The conversations I overheard or engaged in while in Ouray, Silverton and Durango centered on wine, hiking, running, local commerce and different things one could do with chipotle. Overweight locals ate rare enough to notice. Every single television I saw in a public space was tuned to Fox News, with the exception of a reprieve for Monday Night Football. Virtually all the music I heard was pre-1995. I saw exactly one black person, which was one-fourth the number of people I saw wearing sunglasses with white plastic frames. The local book store in Ouray had as much space dedicated to Ayn Rand and John Wayne as to current popular fiction.
I know at least a half-dozen people who moved to Colorado for one reason or another. None of them lasted two years. On the other hand, I used to work for a company that was based in Denver and I knew a lot of people who were transferred around the country from various places in Colorado. Most of them talked about home, but as far as I know, none have moved back.
I have visited different parts of Colorado several times, and except for one sexual encounter on the Durango-Silverton Railroad when I was fifteen, I've never really been able to connect with people there.* They are nice in a way that does nothing to make me believe they really like me, and most interactions are dotted with what feel like non sequiturs to me. I get the feeling that many of the people I meet feel somehow inherently superior to the rest of us, which is of course impossible.
I realize that this is all gross generalization against a whole state, and there are probably a million people in Colorado who could easily disabuse me of my prejudice. Some of the natives I met at my old job were awesome people. But every region has a sort of default personality, and for me, at least for now, most of Colorado remains a nice place to visit...
* I think that girl was from Utah, or California or something, anyway.