Mike Fitzgerald

Silent Night. Holy Night. All is calm, all is bright…

Hello from your Highway 191 neighbor to the north, Pinedale, Wyoming.

Just like Moab, this is a place where words alone cannot describe the beauty. Not even the greatest painters or photographers could fully capture the sights and sounds of these outdoor masterpieces.

As a longtime professional journalist of 32 years – news reporter, sports writer, editor, columnist, (lousy) photographer – for more than 20 publications, I have been blessed to see and live in some spectacular settings.

Hawaii, Key West and San Clemente were three of the best. But none are better than Moab and Pinedale.

Sitting at 7,175 feet above sea level and surrounded by snow-capped mountains, Pinedale, with just 2,000 residents, is a living Christmas card this week. The towering pine trees scattered around town are also filled with snow.

The huge pine in front of the historic old courthouse is draped with colorful lights and topped with a big white star. Not too far is a smaller tree that shines in the brightest of blues.

When it snows you feel like a giant could just pick us up and shake it like a glass globe. Winter itself is a brilliant showing, especially the fiery sunrises and orange-red sunsets. Moab and Pinedale are proof that you don’t have to be on an ocean for an unforgettable sunset.

The Mountain Man Christmas Parade and celebration was a small-town delight in every way.

Moab is bigger than Pinedale, more than double the population. But the two share so many of the same features, physically and spiritually.

The Electric Light Parade in Moab is the most incredible Christmas event I have ever seen, including the big-city parades. Pencil it onto your bucket list, even if you have been to Moab and the surrounding national parks some other time of the year. Main Street and the many town parks and buildings sparkle with decorations.

Mule deer and moose roam Pinedale’s streets as if they own the place, especially cool for someone like me who grew up in Chicago. The “mulies” are big and dark brown and the lanky moose come in all sizes: papa, mama and baby, often together.

Whitetail deer, just as fun to see, wander through the Moab streets and yards and the colorful bird population is another of the best I’ve ever seen.

Both towns also have many beautiful old churches. I attended Saint Pius X in Moab and miss Father Bill, a terrific pastor.

Our Lady of Peace in Pinedale is even smaller, but filled with similar displays of stained-glass windows and old wood charm. Father Peter James, who hails from a small town in Africa, always has a holy grin on his face, especially when asked how he is handling the below-zero temperatures of his new home.

“This is one of God’s greatest places,” he says. “And I dress very warm.”

I could go on and on about the endless beauty Pinedale and Moab share, but perhaps the most important one really stands out during the holiday season.

The people of both towns are the most generous I have ever seen. Moab has WabiSabi and so much more, while Pinedale offers its Food Basket to anyone in need of food or clothing.

Both are also filled to the brim with volunteers, those heroic men, women and teens who donate their valuable time and energy to simply benefit others, usually strangers but in desperate need.

The spirit of giving is year-round in both towns, but it really stands out over Christmastime.

We also love to sing, with outstanding choirs of all shapes and sizes bringing carols and cheer to the mountains and high desert.

The towns are very safe and a great place to raise kids, thanks to so many dedicated men and women in law enforcement. The schools and teachers are also outstanding. Is there anything better than investing in our precious young people?

The snow on the shining red rocks of Moab is absolutely stunning. It will stop you in your tracks.

It’s snowing now in Pinedale, bright white flakes swirling and dancing in the chilly thin air with the might and majesty of the Wind River Mountains in the background.

The laughter of young children, a symphony of what’s really right with this world, is spilling from the library.

Merry Christmas, dear Moab, from your neighbors to the north in Pinedale.

And to all a good night.

Mike Fitzgerald is a freelance writer who used to live in Moab and now calls Pinedale home. He can be reached at revfitz22@aol.com. Merry Christmas Mom!