Buena Vista, Colorado

When I was between the ages of about 9 and 16 years old, my family always took a summer vacation. This meant heading west. I know now that my parents saved all year for those trips, and found ways to make them as cheap as possible. But I never knew it at the time--as a child, I thought we were living like kings. We went to Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado. We visited national parks, and out-of-the-way towns. We hiked the Grand Canyon, and drove our old station wagon to the top of Pike's Peak. We camped and stayed in YMCA lodges. We found swimming holes that locals told us about, and stayed up late to look at the stars. At the end of each summer trip, I felt my first real versions of depression. Back home in Ohio, I ached for the mountains. I asked my father why he couldn't get a job near the Rockies. I think he probably tried. In one month, I'm moving from NYC to the Arkansas River Valley of Central Colorado. There's a 12-mile paved trail--for bikes and pedestrians only--that goes around the historic mining town. It has views of the Sawatch and Mosquito mountain ranges. My adolescent self is so goddamn proud.