I woke up in a land almost indescribably beautiful. Two glacier-dimpled mountains surrounded by vast colorful autumn alpine scrub.
I drove my family and I to and through lands largely untold, where a small town means population 500 and no chain store has ever had a board meeting to even consider setting up a local franchise.
We saw jagged, jutting cliffs hanging from forests so difficult to reach they’ve never been cut. We watched as the firs receded and the ponderosa pines became rulers of the world. We saw where fires had driven thousands from their homes—us included as our campsite was evacuated and we high-tailed it south just weeks before—and some of those wouldn’t be able to come back. But we saw the exact line where the fire had scorched the earth, and just fifteen feet away every single home…saved. Their yards and trees still as green as a pot of emeralds, their homes untouched, and the hills and mountains behind them completely scorched. Decimated.
“Thank you, firemen” signs hung on every mailbox.
We went further. Into the desert, where the trees don’t grow at all, fire or otherwise. And it was beautiful.
And I began judging things.
The power lines and dams as we drove through North Cascades National Park. The guy who told us we couldn’t turn around after I made a wrong turn because, “this is a private road!”
He was holding a knife. I assume he had it for reasons prior to our arrival, like whittling or skinning a possum or something, but honestly I don’t know. He had it while we talked though. Argued, really.
And North Cascades? Well we didn’t even drive through it. Because the road through the park actually exists in a corridor separate from the park all together. Ross Lake NRA, specifically. The whole place is like a giant DMV garage and power plant mixed into one.
And then I realized I shouldn’t judge. But there are places that are immaculate. Pristine still. Yet we still find a way to clog them full of hair balls like a cat puking all over our last and only cup of coffee.
Some people though, they resist. They keep their gorgeous. Where we could keep our own little gorgeous. And that’s where I want to be.
It’s called Mount Baker Highway.
See ya there.