Monday, June 2, 2008


I used to think Minnesota had mountains until I said that to someone once and they just laughed. About 24 seconds later I admitted we were lucky to have hills.

I love watching movies that contain mountain-climbing, but I would not enjoy climbing mountains personally and I would likely soil myself when it came to rappelling. I think I like watching mountain-climbing movies because it helps me imagine what it would be like to have rippling abs and rock-hard biceps. Also, sometime I’d like to wear lederhosen and yodel. Alternatively, it would be neat to scale Everest and then, at the summit while the sun was setting, play the National Anthem on a didgeridoo.

I also like movies that are set in the mountains but do not contain mountain-climbing. Some day I’d like to have a really long bushy beard, wear hiking boots, and a red union suit. I’d don a flannel shirt and wear trousers held up by suspenders. I’d like to “plug a chaw” and cook beans over the fireplace in my log cabin. I’d also like to hunt and fish and fell trees and fry some cakes on the griddle. I’d wet my whistle with some whiskey and sing funny songs about Uncle Flinch and his pet wolverine. Kids would love my stories, but they would listen from across the room because of my bad breath.

I think this kind of life makes for a viable alternative to owning an RV.

I grew up surrounded by the mountains of Ecuador, so I feel most at home when I can look up and see one towering over my head. I prefer them to be patchwork green or snow-covered, or better yet, a combination of both. Like this:

It’s strange, because even though I grew up around them, I’m sort of at a loss of what to SAY about them. I have spent hours in vehicles, crawling along the side of mountains with little between our car and the river at the bottom of the valley below. I have sat in the silence that exists when you are so far above civilization that all you can hear is the wind blowing and your own thoughts. I have used them as my daily directional reference point. It’s easy to know where you are when you can look up and see Guagua Pichincha from anywhere in town. (That’s also why I can hardly ever remember street names in Quito because I navigate in reference to the mountains.)

I love mountains in tame ways. I don’t walk them much, let alone hike or mountain climb. And I wouldn’t consider down-hill skiing even for a million bucks. I like looking at them, and knowing they are there, but I don’t want to get too well acquainted with their perils.

I will say I think the best mountain experience is sitting with your body in natural hot springs and your head in freezing cold Andean air with this view:


Erin said...

I've only seen mountains a couple of time being that I live in the middle of the prairies. I'm not one for wanting to drive through them since I have this fear of heights and the idea of crawling along narrow mountain highways just doesn't appeal to me.

My cousins grew up in Quito, as their parents were missionaries there for 15 years. What a beautiful place, judging from all the pictures and stories I've seen and heard. But again, wouldn't want to have to drive along those roads. I heard too many stories about mudslides and roads being washed out. Not my cup of tea.

Victoria said...

could someone explain what plug a chaw means. i NEED to add that to my brain knowledge and general vocabulary. thanks.