Here’s the sort of story you hope you only tell once in a lifetime.
In July we rode the Cog Railway up the side of Pike’s Peak in Manitou Springs, Colorado. It was forty years to the month since I’d last been to the summit, and I thought the anniversary was worth celebrating with a return trip.
Our conductor, Mel, was a top-notch tour guide, friendly and ready to share mountain history and local tall tales. We heard compelling stories of the old west, saw actual history in the remains of telegraph poles and trappers’ cabins, and hobnobbed with the deer and antelope.
At the top, Wyatt and I stood at the abyss before ducking inside for coffee and the peak’s world-famous doughnuts.
Now for the once in a lifetime part.
On the way down, a dark, tattered scattering of clouds came in. When a funnel dropped from one particularly gruesome looking clump, a lady across the aisle said, “Look! A tornado.”
If life were a movie, there would’ve been screams and gasps and folks crying out.
Instead there was dead silence.
And then the reassuring voice of Mel over the intercom changed the subject completely and told us about the trees and the grasslands—and look at those elk over there!
We rolled down the hill without incident.
But just as the train came to its final resting place on the depot pad, Mel confessed all.
“Hey,” he said, “You know that cloud that looked like a tornado? Well folks, it was indeed a tornado. They’re rare, but they happen.”
Later that day, the Cog Railway posted the photo above on Facebook.
Every time I look at this, I imagine a sticker at the pointed end of the cloud: “You Are Here.”