Several years ago, I made a CD for road trips called "Songs Darren likes". It's also a playlist on my iTunes, so every now and then, we find ourselves listening to it. One of the songs on the mix is "Amazing Grace" by The Maverick Choir, and it always transports me straight to Bozeman, Montana.
It was 1994. Dani was three years old, and Darren and I had an itch to move to the mountains. He was stuck in a sort of dead-end job, we were broke, and we had nothing to lose, so we dropped off Dani at my parents' house in Kansas, and hit the road on a job hunt. We swung through Colorado Springs, then up to Boulder (I loved Boulder, but Darren hated it, which for years was a bone of contention between us!), then further north to Laramie, Wyoming. Along the way, we camped. Outside of Laramie, we pitched our tent above a frozen lake; to this day, that's the coldest I have ever been in my life. I thought the dawn would NEVER come! Coming down from the mountain the next morning, we could see rain storms way out across the plains, and our vantage point on the mountain made it seem as though we were at eye-level with the clouds that created them. We watched the gray sheets of rain slowly descend toward earth, and wondered in awe at how the rain just evaporated in mid-air, never reaching the ground. It was a scene I will never forget as long as I live.
From Laramie, we drove up through the Tetons and into Yellowstone. We'd both been just a few years earlier - during the summer we fell in love - but on separate trips. It was wonderful to experience it together this time. Our final destination was Bozeman, Montana, where we spurged on a cheap hotel room downtown. We immediately fell in love with the town.
That night, we decided to go see a movie. The old theater was a throwback to vaudeville, with its heavy red draperies and velveteen seat cushions. The curtains parted to reveal a single movie screen, and we sat back and enjoyed "Maverick", the rompy comedy starring Mel Gibson and Jodie Foster. It became an instant favorite of ours, in part because the story was fun, but mostly because of the setting and the fact that we were on this big, crazy adventure together. At the end of the movie, we were riveted to our seats during the credits while "Amazing Grace" played on the big screen. We loved it! I had always wished those lyrics had been put to more up tempo music; I always felt like it should be such a JOYFUL song, and yet when we sang it in church, it always sounded so gloomy.
The Maverick version of Amazing Grace was everything I'd always wished the song could be. It was the same familiar tune, but ... rockin'!
The next morning, we attended church and Darren even spoke with a man about a job. Eventually, by way of Idaho, Utah and back through Colorado, we made it to Kansas and then home. The move never materialized beyond our romantic notions, but the song remains the "soundtrack" of a carefree, idealistic, wonderful trip through the Colorado Rockies, and specifically, a beautiful town called Bozeman, Montana.