The Straightening of Crooked Things

Where I live, moments of transcendence inspired by nature have the potential to occur on a daily basis. Our little remote mountain town is tucked in the bosom of an expansive wilderness, surrounded by soaring granite ranges, miles of national forest, pristine lakes, and churning, emerald rivers.

I have lived here for close to sixteen years and still have my breath stolen away regularly.

Recently though, I have found myself experiencing a recurring brush with transcendence in nature, but it has come in an unexpected and unlikely form.

There is a highway that twists through our mountain pass like a curling black and yellow ribbon, joining our little oasis with the nearest largish city, some fifty miles away and twenty-two hundred feet lower. This stretch of road, famous for folks hurling either their cars or their lunch over the precarious edges is aptly called “Buckhorn”. It is at once treacherous and beautiful.

It has claimed lives.

 It is also a magical portal for the imagination that I have found to be a strange and rare spot for downloading some of my most inspired thoughts and ideas; a secret trysting place for my genius and me.

This year, courtesy of the economic stimulation given by the hand of the Almighty Powers That Be, a major (and I mean major) highway realignment project has begun…The Straightening of Buckhorn.

We are talking an earth moving operation of Biblical proportions…

Mountains being laid low and valleys being raised up.

Someone at the top has some kinda mustard seed faith, a fistful of cash, and some mighty terrible machines to pull off something this epic. Ten cuts. Ten hairpins pulled straight.

I make a weekly trek down the mountain to visit my shrink…ehrm…I mean for an appointment, and have been utterly in shock and awe as I have watched the army of yellow behemoths working their destruction.

Driving through the pass these days is like driving through an Ayn Rand novel.

It is the land of the giant Tonka Trucks. Massive mechanical jaws ripping great rifts through the green to reveal the rust-red flesh of the mountainsides. Towering hills flanking the left of each curve being literally chopped in two, their guts being scraped and scooped into the deep ravine on the other side of the road.

Giant contraptions like something only Tim Burton could dream up, receive two-ton servings of broken chunks of asphalt into their mouths as they simultaneously spew out finely ground black rubble from their…other ends. The old road being devoured and made reusable again—a small token of conservancy offered to appease Gaea for the obscene violence unfolding in the woods.

Further down the highway, past the worst of the carnage, great swaths of forest stand gaping in their shorn nakedness; mighty Oaks and Cedars lie scattered in heaps like soldiers on a civil war battleground—the land being made ready for cuts eight, nine, and ten. The stands of adjacent trees look on in horror and dread, like spectators at a crime scene, wondering if they are next.

The magnitude of the reconfiguration of the landscape is absolutely awe-inspiring. It is an engineering feat that leaves me stunned and amazed. I am repulsed and drawn to the strange awful beauty of it. I feel some kind of crazy hope kindle at the sheer ingenuity and fortitude necessary for such an undertaking.

As I head toward my ‘appointment’ each week, I feel like I am driving through a metaphor for this particular leg of my life’s journey. As I drive on toward understanding and awareness, out of confusion and lost-ness, I am hopeful that the reconfiguration of my innards will leave me a little more straightened out; a little more accessible to my self; a little more user-friendly. Scarred? Likely. Functional? Of course. Beautiful? Depends on how you look at it.

Nature and man. Destruction and creation. Progress and the natural way of things. Me, myself and I.

You and me.

A transcendent alphabet soup swirling together, forming new words and new roads. Where oh where will they lead us?


A View from the Mountaintop

More photos: A fascinating look at heavy machinery; man and nature; destruction and creation.

Click on any thumbnail to view this gallery.


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