Mike Fitzgerald

There is always the question of whether you can really go home again. Or, where is your true home?

Up here in Wyoming, which I currently call home, we just had a spectacular autumn that lasted two hours and 20 minutes before an 80-mile-per-hour gust of sleet blew all of the colorful leaves – along with a few dudes on horseback – into the neighboring state of Nebraska.

But we do have a catchy tune about where you hang your hat and I often sing it after a few stiff ones at happy hour.

“Home, home on the range, where the deer and the antelope play…” I have different versions for the rest, which tends to get garbled anyway.

Utah also has a similar song, but it’s much more modern and topical.

“Home, home on the rocks, where Bears Ears are even bigger than Obama’s…”

OK. OK. Let’s take this more seriously.

As I have mentioned in just about every column for the past 10 years, I have lived all over this awesome country of ours.

Twenty full-time newspaper jobs in 32 years, the thrill of travel and adventure, meeting new people, and being an irresponsible bum, have all been main factors.

Let me take a deep breath and rattle them off : Clinton, Mo.; Calumet City, Ill.; Albuquerque; Corona, Calif.; San Clemente; Anaheim; Las Vegas (twice); Los Angeles; Denver; Columbia, Mo.; Honolulu; Chicago (twice); Gainesville, Fla.; Provo (during Winter Olympics); Hollister, Calif.; Key West; Merced, Calif.; and here in Pinedale.

Add Atchison, Kan., for two years of college and Carbondale, Ill., for three more before the big party was sadly ended by graduation. Plus more than one or even two different addresses (or couches) at several of the stops and that’s a lot of home sweet homes from sea to shining sea.

Then I landed at one of my all-time favorites to begin a freelance career at your doorstep of Moab for several years. I love Moab and rave about it all the time. If you live there as you read this, believe me, you are very fortunate. And I hope to be back pretty damn quick. I also adore Pinedale, but these old bones are crackling more and more each winter.

The places where I have stayed and worked along a fun and fulfilling life journey have much in common. They are filled with many, many more good people than bad.

Volunteers are everywhere, the lifeblood and true sacrifice of every community big or small. The criminals, liars and greedy jerks get a much bigger slice of the publicity pie than they deserve. But it’s the hardworking parents, dedicated teachers, young people with so much positive vision and many more …those folks that make it a better world and what is still a great country.

The incredible natural beauty is also a blessing. Our national parks, Moab and Utah right there, are just jewels in the crown. The oceans, rivers, mountains and deserts take your breath away and lift any sagging soul. Even the big cities, with their scourge of unthinkable violence, have a canvas of their own with towering and powerful works of engineering, green space and waterfronts.

With a few exceptions, I have been a United States traveler and am more than satisfied.

I went to my hometown of Chicago recently and was so saddened by the shootings there, along with so many truly smart people just pointing fingers at each other instead of seeking solutions.

The heat and humidity were also brutal. And the mosquitoes are now officially bigger than hummingbirds. In almost a month, all I did for my 82-year-old Mom was screw in a new hose to the porch spigot. I was sweating and swearing too much to check if it leaked.

Then it was back into the air-conditioning to watch “Sports Center,” eat more of her food and complain about the heat and mosquitoes.

It was good to be home, though, where the story began. And where my Mom just went kayaking for the first time and my 78-year-old Aunt Lori grabbed her lung cancer and kicked it to the curb. I rode in my brother’s big boat on my beloved Lake Michigan with his cool wife and their dogs, and greeted old friends and neighbors.

But the shining mountains of Pinedale and the red rocks of Moab were always whispering in my ear.

It’s time to come home. You can love them from here.

And they will love you from there.

Mike Fitzgerald is a former Moab resident. He can be reached at revfitz22@aol.com.