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Elwayville: The Big Story

Get in Touch with the World Again and Take the Time to Remember Every Day Is a Gift

Hey there! It’s been awhile. How are you? Have you found some time to get outdoors and enjoy this magical state?

I know the trails are packed because the stadiums and theaters are empty—losing a season at Red Rocks really hurt our ability to dance under the stars and support our favorite local and international artists—but whether you’re a mountain biker, hiker, climber, camper, stargazer, or s’mores culinary artist, I think being outdoors in the Rockies in the fall is still better than anything else.

It’s been a hard change to our lives and our lifestyles since the first reports of the pandemic in Colorado swept through the high country in early March—especially for first responders, caregivers, and the millions of people who have contracted and even died from this virus.

And it’s been tough for every one of our friends in the outdoor/entertainment/food/fun industry who show us the best lines and secret trails, brew the most amazing local coffee, get us out of our seats with a sing-a-long encore, or pour another cold brew of our favorite pint.

I miss all of you. I miss handshakes and hugs and hucking hand sanitizer-free Frisbees across long fields as the weather cools and the peaks go pink and blue in the early sunsets.

Here at the house, our home-cooking, kitchen-cocktail-making, dog-walking, Zoom-talking, and old-friend-calling-game has greatly improved over the past few months. I have also taken advantage of the quiet time to do some deep reading. Along with Amazon, UPS, US-save-the-freaking-Post-Service-mail-in vote, FedEx, and alcohol sales (or edibles), I’m thinking books—online or otherwise—have done pretty well through all of this.

I steamed through The Ship of Dreams, a haunting take on the sinking of the titanic and the “End of the Edwardian Era,” (which took me so completely inside the glorious voyage that I was shocked when the great ship started to sink), rocked the celluloid soundtrack of Twenty Thousand Roads: The Ballad of Gram Parsons and his Cosmic American Music, went full patriot over No Time for Spectators: The Lessons that Mattered Most from West Point to the West Wing, and I am learning yet one more lesson in incredible writing while enjoying Joseph Conrad’s incomparable Nostromo, which seems to promise another novel in every perfect paragraph.

Which got me thinking: What great books are being written right now that will define this penultimate moment in American history?

Are any of you currently writing one of them? We’d love to hear about it. In regards to one more famous Mark Twain quote about producing great content, “Write what you know,” there’s certainly no shortage of world-changing material to mine as we live and learn through all of this.

Sure, George Orwell’s 1984 and The Hunger Games get name-checked daily in Twitter and Facebook references to the current crisis, but I am convinced there will be new post-apocalyptic Westerns set against the drama of unchecked pestilence and raging wildfires descending on the brave inhabitants of small mountain towns, as well as searing exposes about a soulless collective of grifters continually lying about the truth before our eyes, saying inaction was the best course of action so as not to “create a panic.”

I believe the next generation of science fiction will continue to look more like reality does today. And that action thrillers in which one lone hero must battle the stinking rot of corporate/political corruption will continue to find the stink goes “straight to the top.” And extended essays on finding an end to racial injustice will continue to quote the Constitution, saying that every American has the inalienable right to, “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”

On a side note, it always blows me away how our nation’s founders wanted to make it crystal clear we all need to have the freedom to “pursue Happiness.” It makes me think of us all skipping through wildflowers, skiing down snowy slopes, and falling in love with each other as we embark in an ongoing search for smiles and laughs.

Which is why I believe there will be love stories, too. Stories about survival and comprehension and redemption. Stories about the faith we place in each other, our families, our neighbors and our immediate friends, and how that faith is rewarded again every time we remember to embrace it.

I look forward to reading those stories more than anything, because it does feel like we are all living in a novel right now. Every day there is some new drama unfolding, something momentous about to take place. History is not happening around us, it is happening to us, and we need to be part of it.

A few weeks ago I turned off everything except my phone, and every day I went out my front door and started to walk—sometimes with my dogs, sometimes my wife, sometimes all four of us, but mostly by myself.

It felt good to be part of the world again—not society and culture and bustle—but of the planet. It felt good to watch the day break away on its own special arc. To feel my own feet propel me, and like I still had more stories to tell. Stories about how life is such a gift, for the world and for all of us. 

—Elevation Outdoors editor-at-large Peter Kray is the author of the God of Skiing. The book has been called “the greatest ski novel of all time.” Don’t believe the hype? Buy and read it here:

Illustration by Kevin Howedeshell,

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