A few things I’m thankful for today

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, bar none. The reason? Food. I love Thanksgiving food. Plus, there is the fact that the holiday is mostly free of the commercial spoilage of many other holidays (hello, Christmas/Valentine’s Day).

It’s also a good time to reflect. There are plenty of thing I’m thankful for. In the spirit of this space, we’ll keep it focused on the great outdoors and the ability to enjoy it. So here goes…

You can't help but to be grateful for vistas like this. (Chuck Erle photo)

You can’t help but to be grateful for vistas like this. (Chuck Erle photo)

I’m thankful for our wide open spaces and public lands. I love cool cities and the things they offer. I just love wild places more. Wide open blue skies, ancient forests, fragrant fresh air, expansive vistas and towering peaks – those are the places in America I love best. I think back to the peaks of the San Juans, dressed in spring snow and adorned in fresh green alpine grasses, and marvel at the amazing blessing that our public lands are. Times Square? The Vegas Strip? South Beach? You can have it. I’ll take a trail, a forest and an awaiting summit over all of that any day of the week.

My kinda gang. And there are plenty more where these folks came from.

My kinda gang. And there are plenty more where these folks came from.

I’m thankful for friends who want to venture into those wild places with me. I’ve met some of the coolest people in my outdoor circles. We are all pretty different, but we share a love of being outside and exploring nature. From there, so many other things come easy. Conversation flows. Food and beer is shared. And the toil, struggle and triumph of testing ourselves outside creates a special bond that’s hard to mimic anywhere else in life. I can’t wait for the next adventure!

We're all a little crazy, but running -- and running friends -- are pretty cool.

We’re all a little crazy, but running — and running friends — are pretty cool.

Speaking of buds, I’m thankful for my running friends. Many I’ve run with, many I interact with online. We all share a love of running, be it on streets or trails. We’re a little nutty, subjecting ourselves to the struggle of fast races, LONG races and months and months of training. People don’t understand why we run so much, and we just roll our eyes at the oft-used phrase, “You’ll only see me running if I’m running away from something.” We’re a special tribe. We’ve discovered health, achievement and the secret to an enjoyable life: If you run enough, you can eat all the tacos and drink all the beer you want. Sometimes during a race. So go ahead and sit on the couch, munching on your kale chips. We’re out there running some miles, enjoying pork carnitas in a tortilla and popping a cold one, and we’re still not gaining weight.

I'm just glad to be able to do all these things.

I’m just glad to be able to do all these things.

I’m thankful for my health, and a body that can put up with the strain, stress and abuse I put it through. There is a lot of punishment you subject yourself to when climbing a big mountain, or heading out on a big backpacking trip. And yeah, the pounding of a five-month training season to get ready for a marathon is pretty tough on the body. Joint strain, muscle soreness, overtaxed immune systems, and all the other things that come with endurance training can beat you up physically and mentally. But you know what? I have no complaints. Thus far in life, I’m healthy. Able-bodied. I don’t look at that long-slog approach hike as a chore, or that 20-mile training run as a burden. Yes, they’re hard. There is some suffering involved. But the fact that I’m healthy enough to be able to do these things is something that is not lost on me. There are plenty of people who can’t do these things. Some of them can’t because of circumstances beyond their control. They’d love the opportunity to try, but just can’t. My health is a blessing, and the summit views I’ve seen and the finish lines I’ve crossed are the harvest. Thanks be to God that I’ve been able to express myself physically in this way.

I could list a lot more things, but you get the point. We’ve got to count our blessings. Remember that while you’re chowing down on all that good food, while you’re soaking in endless hours of football, or, God forbid, standing in line for early Black Friday sales. Gratitude makes everything a little sweeter.

Have a great Thanksgiving!

Bob Doucette

On Twitter @RMHigh7088

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