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Sierra Magazine
Last Words

What's your favorite NATURAL escape from THE CITY?

This question reminded me of an exchange at Kepler's Books in Menlo Park, California, where Edward Abbey read just a few months before he died. As was his style, Abbey railed against the desecration of the wilderness and the vast loss of pristine places. One of the members of the audience asked Abbey, "Is there anywhere left that is unspoiled?"
The crusty author replied, "Well, if I did know of such a place, I sure as hell wouldn't tell you."
Gary Lichtenstein
Denver, Colorado

My favorite natural escape: why, my backyard, of course. No long lines. No high fees. No RVs. And no cell phones!
Barbara Nelson
Trenton, New Jersey

Away at college, I escape gothic facades and grimy streets by walking to the bluff at the edge of town. The trip to East Rock meanders across wooden bridges and up pathways that sometimes glow rust-red in the afternoon sun. From the top, the stoplights blink in Long Island Sound, but the city seems much farther away than it is.
Katrina Smith
New Haven, Connecticut

Especially after bleeding from the ears after reading case law after case law (I am a budding environmental attorney), I love to go into a tight cave in Giant City State Park near Carbondale, Illinois-and sit among a nice little raccoon family. They never seem to mind the company, as long as I bring them some dehydrated apple.
Brian Block
Carbondale, Illinois

As a resident of Vermont, it's easy to say that nearly anywhere in the state is an escape from the city. (Burlington, our largest city, has a population of only 40,000.) But it's the Long Trail and Green Mountain National Forest that are my favorites. Whether for an easy morning stroll or a few weeks of really roughing it, they're both fantastic places to commune with God. Just you, a buddy (maybe), nature, and a journal in which to recall it all. I pray that the park can withstand the onslaught of congressional bagmen for heavy industry, and weekenders from New Jersey with 80-foot recreational vehicles.
Eugene Fox, Jr.
Middlebury, Vermont

I moved to Boulder, Colorado, about 20 years ago because, at that time, Boulder was my escape from my home outside New York City. Much has changed in this once-sleepy little college town. The entire Denver metro area is on overdrive to grow bigger, get there faster, become more competitive. My favorite respite now is my tiny community of a dozen homes in an isolated and hidden canyon just outside town. Once within our hamlet, we find time to walk with the neighbors, share techniques to keep the deer out of our gardens, hear the land's history from the women who originally homesteaded the land, and help and respect each other. Our deep sense of community keeps the daily bustle in perspective.
Marie Cecchini
Eldorado Springs, Colorado

A great way to leave the ugly, chaotic world behind uses no petroleum products and takes very little time to get there. I have a hypnotherapist friend put me into a deep trance and I drop into a world full of ponds, wildflowers, sunny meadows, and distant peaks.
Gary Harrold
Aptos, California

My favorite escape? Any place at least a mile or two from the nearest road.
Fareed Abou-Haider
Mesa, Arizona

Anza Borrego Desert State Park: three hours from San Diego, accessible by country bus; the largest state park in the Lower 48; canyons, 5,000-foot peaks; a few developed areas, but lots of wilderness where one can escape the madding crowd and where Attack the Terrain Vehicles are banned.
Phillippe Vermeyen
Vista, California

On the deck of a Washington State ferry: white gulls with brown wings soar above fresh chop on gray-blue water. Light slivers sparkle the glass-and-steel frames of downtown highrises. Sun fade etches snowcapped silhouettes of Olympic peaks, while a ghost shadow of Mt. Rainier gently reflects the orange alpenglow of evening.
Bill Shecket
Seattle, Washington


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