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Big Dan sees the Rockies: loses power of speech

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I saw the Rocky Mountains for the first time about six hours ago. For as long as I am on this earth, I’ll never forget how powerless and small that horizon made me feel.

Somewhere on Interstate 90 I stopped for gas. Everything I own was packed in the bed, and my life savings (a few hundred dollars) was in my back pocket. The drive from Chicago to Ronan takes about 27 hours, and I’d been in the truck for well over 20. Every single muscle was stiff as a board; I was angry for no apparent reason and I could feel the wad of cash in my pocket shrinking with each tick of the gas pump.

When you’ve been driving for that long and you’re that far from home, you can get more than a little upset. When you get upset, you start to question whether or not you’ve made the right decision. What if I was wrong? What if this is a huge mistake and I don’t make it out here?

What if Montana has nothing to show me, or worse, nothing to teach me?

Mind racing and spirits low, I took the I-90 on-ramp and continued towards the certain unknown.

I rounded a particularly tall hill about 15 miles later and looked up at the horizon. My first thought was, “Those are some weird clouds. And they’re massive.” A few moments later it dawned on me that I wasn’t looking at clouds; I was looking at the Rocky Mountains.

I hear the words, “epic” and “awesome” quite often. So much, in fact, that the true meaning of these words has been watered down and lost over the years. This is unfortunate, because I can think of no better way to describe the first time I saw the Rockies.

Time stopped.

My mouth fell open and my eyes widened as the only horizon I’ll ever refer to as “epic” or “awesome” came into view.

“Ouoh...”- an involuntary noise I’d never heard before escaped my chest and I was speechless for the first time in my life. The feeling was so powerful and beyond question that I instantly turned the truck’s stereo off and nearly apologized to the mountains for trespassing.

I drove for three more hours in silent admiration and respect for the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen. In the wake of this experience, any doubt and uncertainty about my decision to move from Chicago to Ronan instantly fell away.

When you’re standing on top of a mountain and looking down on green river valleys and wild bison, it’s difficult to feel anything but freedom.

(Editor’s note: New Valley Journal reporter Dan Martynowicz will be covering mid-county and other stories.)

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