Colorado Thanksgiving: Rocky Mountain Sunrise

My favorite holiday is approaching. Thanksgiving. It has been the holiday to capture my affection since I can remember. Some reasons? One is family gatherings. I remember the Thanksgivings of my childhood as memorable (in a good way). Turkey and potatoes happen to be two favorite foods of mine (not to mention gravy, stuffing, pie…) and my family cooked enough food to feed a suburban neighborhood. There were a lot of us, but there were also a lot of leftovers!

Another Thanksgiving favorite is the Macys Thanksgiving Day Parade. I love parades and this granddaddy of the events is a trademark of turkey day. I have to say the pandemic caused some disappointment where the parade was concerned, but I’m hoping for a more traditional event this year.

At the top of list for favorite Thanksgiving events, however, are the outdoor activities. As a kid, my family sometimes played touch football on Thanksgiving. My dad, my siblings, the neighborhood kids… it was fun! In fact, football on the TV is a commonly loved event on Thanksgiving Day, but I’ve never really engaged. Football outside? Count me in!

I remember one Thanksgiving weekend I went fishing with my father. My memory tells me it was on Thanksgiving Day, but I’m going to assume my memory doesn’t always serve me right. Seven siblings and a mother would not likely have been left behind on a holiday. It must have been the following Friday or Saturday. Dad and I spent an afternoon wrapped in wool coats with other angling enthusiasts. I love to fish!

Other years have found me hiking through the woods, snowshoeing, or simply taking a post-meal walk along a road with other over-stuffed humans (who doesn’t eat too much on Thanksgiving?). This year is going to offer an outdoor adventure of another kind on Thanksgiving Day. I’ll be leaving Minnesota behind and catching a sunrise (cloud-cover permitting) from the Rocky Mountains. I will be in Colorado.

Colorado Rocky Mountain sunrise

I’ve long loved sunrises and have viewed them from lakeshores, ocean beaches, farmland, and mountains. My favorite has been the Rocky Mountain sunrises. Not many years ago, I was there with my daughter and watched a spectacular sunrise. We hiked up Horsetooth Mountain, which overlooked a reservoir below Horsetooth Rock, the tallest feature. It was still dark when we set out; climbing up, we found a place to sit and watch the sunrise. 

Before the sun came up, brilliant colors stretched across the horizon — bright orange to pale tangerine and a variety of blues and dawn gray. That sunrise hike was my favorite outing during the trip. Watching light dawn in front of me, at an elevation of more than 6,000 feet, the Rocky Mountain Range behind me, my daughter beside me… It was fantastic. 

After the sun rose, we continued on our hike. Several times, I was able to watch a Black-billed Magpie, a western bird that is part of the crow family. While common in the west, I don’t see them at home, so I really enjoyed their presence. They are noisy (true to their family name— crow). They are also relatively tolerant of humans. I watched one perched and several of them flying. They are strange in flight, I think. It appears as if they are going in slow motion (for a bird).

I remember feeling great – inside and out – after that morning hike. It’s true what “they” say about mountain air. The cool, crisp air of the Rockies is refreshing. It feels different from the air I breathe in Minnesota. An altitude thing, I’m sure. It’s always nice to get a different perspective, a new view of this world. Different air to breathe.

I’m hoping for a clear, Rocky Mountain sunrise next week. It will be a great way to begin the day with a grateful heart, in the company of my two kids, and (of course) a good way to build up a healthy appetite for the food that will follow. I doubt we will cook enough to feed a neighborhood, but I’m sure there will be leftovers. And not just the kind we put in the refrigerator. I’m counting on leftover memories of being with ones I love, spending time outside, and watching a Rocky Mountain sunrise.