Colorado Lines – A Peace Corps Story From Travel Branyik

The lines on the winding Colorado country road are sunshine yellow on faded black. There were cracks from where the sun had dried it out and where cars passed it over hundreds of millions of times. Sometimes those cracks would break, pieces of road rumbling and crumbling from the surface spreading themselves along the road, some pieces crushed to dust.

With time, the holes got bigger, but no one seemed to care enough to repave it. Maybe they had forgotten how smooth the road could be once repaved. Maybe they had forgotten how mesmerized they could be at a shiny black surface. Maybe they had forgotten how much brighter the freshly laid yellow paint could be. Maybe.

He kept driving toward the navy blue evergreen lush mountains. There was no hint of snow on their peaks. They were a nice compliment to the clear sky and the fluffs of clouds. Had I seen this before? I swear I had, or maybe I was gone for so long that I had forgotten. I had forgotten how the yellow lines and grey asphalt seemed to lead to straight to the mountains and into the wilderness. How glad of a feeling, to be home, somewhere familiar, being able to see nature’s infinite life extend as far as the eye could see just from the side of the road.

He stopped at a small diner in Westcliffe, Colorado. Belle’s Diner. There was a table next to the window where generous amounts of daylight fell in. And then. Pancakes. Butter. Syrup. Sausage. Coffee. So much coffee and conversation, a simple sensation I dearly missed while away from home.

After two years away from Colorado, it’s easy for a person to forget how the road leads to the mountains, or how each deep breath is clean mountain air, how happy a $1.60 cup of coffee that was always full can make you, or even how water tasted from the tap. Standing in the middle of a meadow, with mountains on one side, a person could nearly see the edge of the world, and the places in the west where the sun disappears and wonder why they never loved this place more than before. I wished all my friends across the ocean could see this.

We often take our homes, or place we make our homes for granted. You can take mental snapshots all day long, eat your favorite foods until you explode, but you may not always remember those things once they go away. You will only remember the feelings you had when you looked at them.

Like people, we also take advantages of the places we love and cherish. We take advantages of our nature, our favorite restaurants, our most frequently traveled roads, or the comfort of our parent’s living room. We do. And it is not until we return home that we rediscover them. Not only do we rediscover them, we become more aware of things we hadn’t before and then comes new appreciations for the little things, the people, and the places.

Coming home has been like this for me. I never realized how blue the Colorado sky was until I lived in a place that barely saw the sky. I never realized how the golden sunset would paint the sky pink and orange until I’d lived where the smog hid the sun. I never knew how good green chili tasted until I didn’t have it anymore.

Yes, I missed Colorado. The things I missed most? Majestic mountains and breakfast with my parents.