I read a national political opinion article last week basically detailing how much someone despises Trump, which in and of itself isn’t all that unusual. What made this one unusual was that it was in my beloved Rangeley Highlander, which I absolutely don’t like seeing in a paper that is normally a refuge from such nonsense. Because as I have said before, NOBODY cares about your political opinions. Left or right…

When I pick up a Highlander I wanna see ads for real estate that I can only dream about owning, what the selectmen are up to, and maybe a couple of goofy stories about what’s going on with people right here in Rangeley.

So I figured I better write a goofy story about somebody right here in Rangeley to try to make it so there isn’t any space left for any political articles. Or at least a story written by somebody goofy who lives in Rangeley on the weekends.

So I just got back from a work trip. Ya, maybe you remember, maybe you don’t. I got this new job that’s been killing me for the last year and a half, and it’s the main reason that you’ve been spared from reading my columns on an every two week basis. My life has become like what Ben Affleck says in Armageddon (during the big earthquake on the asteroid he’s sitting on for some strange reason)… “we got no time, no time!!!!”

Well, every once in awhile instead of trying to kill me, sorta like what NASA did to Bruce Willis, they offer to send me somewhere that I really wanna go. There was a chance to go to Utah and Denver on a work trip, and I was like, alllll over it…

You see, my college buddy and I had this plan 36 years ago. We were gonna graduate (ya, like, that totally almost didn’t happen), get jobs in Colorado, marry beautiful rocky mountain girls, and live happily ever after.

Only one part of the plan happened. We graduated. Just barely. And before I go any further, let me clarify things here so that I still get dinner tonight. You’re beautiful honey, I’m only referring to the fact that you’re not from the Rockies.

The economy had collapsed in the late 70’s under Jimmy Carter and his “hey, turn down the heat and wear a sweater cuz the world is running out of oil”. We graduated in the early 80’s, just before the economy took off like a rocket.

So all we had for job offers was Los Angeles County (don’t ask me why they recruit at UMaine, they just do). So my buddy got stationed in the Palmdale (middle class suburbia) office, and I got stationed in the hell-hole commonly referred to as downtown Los Angeles. I remember I stayed for 6 days. I rented a hotel room while I looked for an apartment. All the apartment complexes had bars on the windows. Ya, you know, so the street thugs couldn’t break in. I almost could have tolerated that . But everyone, and I mean literally everyone, in my new office did all their idle chit chat in Spanish. I felt like I had been kidnapped by aliens and dropped off on some planet not called Earth.

Yet still, I probably could have tolerated it, hey who knows, maybe I could have even learned a little Spanish and impressed the folks back home, if not for the dirty rotten air. I am not kidding you, the air was brown, and you could reach out with your hand and grab it and put it in your pocket if you wanted to.

So let’s not dwell on that, I’ll just summarize by saying before too long I had a job lined up back in Maine and I’ve been here ever since. Thank God. And now, as you know, I even got a little camp in Rangeley. Life is gooood….

Sooo, let’s see here, what was I talking about again?

Oh ya, Utah and Denver. Had all those great plans but had never been there. My boss one day was like, hey Steve, I got too much goin’ on, you wanna go to Utah and Colorado for me? Believe it or not, I actually hesitated for a day or 2 or 3 cuz i really hate traveling THAT much (mostly the flying part). But in the end, I knew that if I didn’t go, I’d regret it. Plus I think my boss was gonna make me go anyway.

So I went.

Started out in Salt Lake City. It’s like this big ol plateau surrounded by truly stunningly high mountains. Drove up to Logan, that was ok. Stayed in Moab on the way to Denver, and that was pretty cool, Dead Horse Point is like a mini Grand Canyon and honestly was breathtaking. They have these huge arches of rock that are amazing too, all these kind of reddish/orange hues.

Lots of wide open spaces,which look even more wide open because there also really aren’t any trees out there. Everywhere I went, I’m thinking, hey, there’s no friggin trees. Like how did those cowboys out on the range have all those campfires when there’s no friggin trees?

Drove across the Rocky Mountains, I-70 from Grand Junction to Denver. I think we got to like 12,000 feet and then dropped down into the Mile High City pretty quickly, cuz I remember hoping that the brakes on the mini-van weren’t going to overheat. The Colorado River runs along there, and cutting through the mountains was pretty scenic. Got to Denver which is another big plateau surrounded by mountains. Found out that although Denver gets a lot of snow, it all melts every single time after they get a storm. They were all like, “Shhh, don’t tell anybody”. Like they’re thinking that’s the greatest thing in the world. I’m sitting there thinking, well that’s no good, how do you get to play in it if it just melts away? I mean, seriously, I wouldn’t even be able to go out and hop on my 92 polaris indy lite and putt around??

I didn’t say that, but I thought it.

So as I was taking in all these things, you’ll never guess what keeps popping into my head. Well, maybe you will. I keep thinking about Rangeley. You see, I spend a lot of time in Rangeley. You know, cuz I really really like it here. Sometimes I think my wife thinks we spend too much time here. I know this because occasionally her poker face fails on a Friday afternoon and I can see in her eyes that she wouldn’t mind staying home once in a while. Especially in the winter when we don’t have running water at camp…

Sorry honey!

So anyway, ya, ya, ya, the mountains were huge out there, but they were also kind of brown. Every time I look I’m thinking those would be a lot prettier if they were green and that far away dark blue color like back here. And then there was the air. It’s not as bad as it was in the LA story I told you earlier, but there was a light brown haze everywhere (except maybe when we were driving across the Rockies). And I’m thinking, man, in Rangeley you can see forever and ever and the mountains look just as crisp 100 miles away as they do close up. And then there were the lakes. Or lack of lakes, I should say. Sure they got the Great Salt Lake. But Rangeley has a hundred different lakes with dark blue water and whitecaps everywhere you look, and they’re just gorgeous. So as I’m driving around out there I’m like, hey, where’s all the freaking lakes?

When i was headed out west I was actually kind of thinking, maybe it will be so damn pretty out there that I might even think about changing my retirement plans, maybe grab the wife by the hair and drag her out there to live out the rest of our lives.

For you young kids, the hair thing is a figure of speech so you don’t need to go bringing that up in your bullying class in school.

You have those now, right? I think that’s a good thing. And I say that with some authority, as one of the many former short kids with glasses who used to get beat up a lot.

Let’s see, where was I? Oh ya, so I get back home after almost 2 weeks out west, and of course I’m like, honey, can we go to camp??? So we throw all the crap in the back of the truck and start driving, winding our way from the flatlands of Gardiner up into the western mountains. Through the S curves along the Sandy River (hey DOT, I know how you like to straighten out roads, but please leave that stretch alone. It’s pretty.). And as we crest the hill coming up Route 4 just before the IGA and look to the left (like I know you always do too) out over Rangeley Lake and Bald Mountain and all those other crisp dark blue mountains, so many that I don’t even know the name of most of them, I just look and think to myself, man….

The more I travel, the more convinced I become that I will never find a prettier place on earth than Rangeley Maine.

Shhhh, don’t tell anybody…

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