Fourth of July evokes celebrations of our country’s independence. Fireworks, family barbecues, and parades.

This year, all of that goes out the window.

During my life, I’ve experienced the full spectrum of Fourth of July celebrations. Right after college, I went with a bunch of friends to the Mall in Washington, DC.  Staking a spot at the Lincoln Memorial, surrounded by thousands of people, we watched fireworks illuminate the memorials.

Other holidays, I’ve spent in remote locations, spending more time with wildlife than people. There are times that I saw more bears and squirrels than people. I’ve even seen it snow over the high peaks of the Sierra.

One particular memory stands out. I worked at Independence Historical Park, where the Fourth of July is especially steeped in history. What I found out working there, is the holiday is somewhat misrepresented. Most of us think of it as the day we declared independence. But in fact, the vote for independence took place July 2. On July 4, the Declaration of Independence was read in public for the first time.

Each year, the rangers who work at that park dress in period costume and reenact this public reading. It reminds me of what true patriots went through to create our democracy. And gives me chills and a sense of pride to think about it.

During one summer as an exchange student in Germany, I spent the Fourth of July going to school. After all, in Europe, it’s just another day.

Living in wildfire country, Fourth of July hasn’t been about fireworks for a long time. After all, fireworks can ignite wildfires. And no one wants to celebrate our nation’s independence by evacuating for a fire. In fact this year, Boulder County has a fire ban up, which prohibits the use of fireworks, no matter how big or small.

For me, this year, I’m lucky enough to have a 4-day weekend. What I want most is time to get away from all the depressing news and circumstances that surrounds us right now. I want to commune with nature and have a walk in the woods.

We’ll be heading out backpacking to spend time in the great outdoors. I won’t share where, as we put a lot of thought into going somewhere off the beaten path. Far away from the Front Range, and the hordes of people that seem to crowd the trails around Nederland. I’ll revel in the view of snow-capped peaks, sparking alpine lakes and the smell of pine trees.

in the view of jagged, snow-capped peaks, pristine alpine lakes and the smell of pine trees.

I hope this Fourth of July brings memorable experiences and connects you to the beauty of all that surrounds us in the Colorado Rocky Mountains.