Having just returned from the rugged mountains of the region my memory bank has invested in it delightful deposits that will pay dividends all of my life. Here are known to be buried such former frontiersmen as Billy the Kid and Buffalo Bill. Up a small canyon leading off another remote canyon is a headstone noting other Western icons. It reads: "Here lies James McCoy (date noted), his gun was too slow." Listed are names of the three who weren't good grammarians but evidently good enough as gunslingers to prove McCoy was too slow on the draw: Cole Younger, Frank James and Tom Horn. Remember Tom Horn was the outlaw-turned-sheriff who sought to arrest Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (AKA Paul Newman and Robert Redford) at what is now nearby Brown's Park. This area of Colorado was their playground along with the Wild Bunch.
The sincerity with which people of the region still seek privacy is noted on a sign at the entrance of a ranch reading: "Nothing beyond this sign is worth your life." In smaller letters: "If you can read this you are now in range."
Also cradled here is the avant-garde ski resort Steamboat Springs. This former Olympic site has produced more Olympic athletes than any town in America. It is enveloped in magnificent mountains providing superb skiing.
The lovely ranch of a more modern Western hero, John Wayne, is stretched across a vast mountain valley.
The Meeker massacre occurred here when a settler plowed up the Native American racetrack. The Utes rebelled and killed the settlers. Later the Utes were resettled in the state that now honors their name, Utah. Teddy Roosevelt much later spent months on the Rocking R Ranch on the White River just outside Meeker.
Nearby is the ranch I was privileged to enjoy. The ranch house amid the other five supporting houses sits on a table overlooking the Yampa River.
Here deer, antelope, elk, bear and mountain lions are homed. The caves in the granite walls of some of the region's narrow valleys provide an ideal habitat for the bears and cats. I sat in solitude overlooking a secluded watering hole nestled high and remote expecting a proliferation of wildlife at dusk but had no visitors. The ranch manager said it was likely because five bears had been playing around the water hole recently and a 500 pound one was among them.
The dawn and twilight "bugling" of the bull elk gives one's goose bumps chill bumps. This is the means whereby the bulls call their harems together. Large coteries were frequently spotted.
Riding along cliff edges on a seven-foot-wide trail with hairpin curves at an altitude of nearly 10,000 feet on an enclosed Kubota RTV1100 with a view of eternity is good for one's prayer life. Kevlar tires and a hydrostatic transmission are needed.
A drive through the arboreal Aspen forest displayed a golden glow on all beneath like a canvas awaiting the brush of a master painter. Varying shades of gold provided by "Sovesberry" bushes and scrub oaks were splashed on the mountainsides. This paradisiacal setting provided a sensory overload. I wrapped my mind around as much as I could to cherish it for years.
An acute awareness of the surrounding in such a halcyon place gives a perspective of where we fit in this global garden designed by our imaginative Creator.
Enjoying this with friends, new and old, made it all the more gratifying. This compatible group of men in camp provided commendable comradery. Each of these colorful characters was a wonderful world worth exploring.
For more columns like this check my web site: www.nelsonprice.com
The Rev. Dr. Nelson Price is pastor emeritus of Roswell Street Baptist Church. Contact Price at email@example.com.