“Silent night, holy night, all is calm, all is bright…”
Hello from your neighbors to the north. As in the North Pole these days and nights. Here in Pinedale, Wyoming, we have already hit the 20-below (actual) and 40-below (wind chill) temperature marks. It froze my mustache and I don’t even have one!
Then 15 inches of snow floated into town last weekend at our 7,800-foot elevation (probably the closest I’ll ever get to heaven), with many more feet of fluff in the sparkling-white Wind River Mountains.
It always amazes me and makes me so thankful for the closeness between Pinedale and Moab. Living in both has been and continues to be a highlight of my life.
The two fairly quiet stops along Highway 191 do have some differences. Moab has more residents than Pinedale, about 5,000 to 2,000, according to my fumbling facts. The incredible walls and spires of red rocks are a stark comparison to the surrounding peaks and the Continental Divide.
Spectacular sunrises and sunsets at both continually remind us that an ocean doesn’t have to be involved.
Moab has two awesome national parks, Canyonlands and Arches, at its borders, along with a local region and entire state filled to the brim with natural beauty.
Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks, where you could also spend a lifetime exploring, are a short and stunning drive from here, including the 75-mile stretch from Pinedale to Jackson Hole, yet another neat tourist town and a world skiing destination.
As you have previously read in my coveted Sun News space, I have lived in some great places during a long newspaper career and could go on and on about these special locations on Earth. An ear and eye crackling lightning storm in the high desert, a sideways and sonic blizzard roaring across Fremont Lake.
Last night, Pinedale was a real-life Christmas card. The flakes were still dancing and the temperature was a balmy 30 degrees. The Lights Parade was short but cute and had to dodge an aisle of plowed snow in the middle. The lighting of the towering town Christmas pine tree and its star at the top brought cheers.
Shortly afterward, at my Corral and Cowboy bar locations, I told everyone within a shot glass of the absolutely amazing Electric Light Parade in Moab. I’ve woken up to the Macy’s Day Parade just outside of a New York City basketball road trip hotel and that’s a great story to be sure.
But the Moab Christmas parade is a must on your bucket list. Float after float of music and magic and the beauty of the West is an incredible experience in every way.
Which, of course, humbly brings me to the best connection of Pinedale and Moab. Its people.
A few minutes ago I was looking out my kitchen window and there was my landlord and friend Dennis Moen shoveling snow from the icy sidewalks so we don’t fall down and break our collective crowns. In a few hours the hilarious Wisconsin native will be wearing a Green Bay Packers jersey and cheese head, (yes, a giant and authentic cheese head) on his way to cheer on his lads at the Brew Pub.
Big deal? Yes. At the age of 70-something he had all of his toes and most of a foot amputated after a horrifying fall just a few blocks from here last February and a long recovery.
Dennis also shot a nice buck this fall just to add to his story of unbelievable courage and, well, cheese-headedness.
Christmas for us getting-older folks can be really sad. I love when the kids light up and their parents and teachers are the heroes of our day.
My grandma, we called her “GG,’’ died on Christmas Day at a young age after a terrible fight with cancer. She could play the piano “by ear” and was an incredible woman in every way.
I especially remember my lost brothers and best friends Bus Bob and Vern around Christmas.
In Moab, one of my all-time favorites sent me to tears on Facebook.
Terryl Dickerson lost her soul mate for the ages, Devern, several years ago in the most sudden and saddest of ways when he just didn’t wake up from his inspirational life one morning.
Terryl reminded us to hug and appreciate those who fill us with love and happiness and are still with us. And hug them again and again, from near or afar.
Merry Christmas, my dear friends in Pinedale and Moab.
And to all a good night.
Mike Fitzgerald is a freelance writer who used to live in Moab. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.