A couple of old friends met me at the airport Friday morning with a rental car. After lunch in a Mexican restaurant in the old mining town of Morrison, we drove to the Red Rocks around the amphitheatre and hiked around a little before proceeding to Lookout Mountain, where we ran through the woods and enjoyed vistas of Golden and Denver. Then, we drove to Mount Evans, the second highest point in Colorado. Driving up the winding, guardrail-free road to the top, I remembered about forty years ago when I caught a ride up a similar road to Aspen with a rugged, tax-resisting old anarcho-libertarian cowboy who was hauling a horse trailer behind his speeding pick-up truck. The Aspen road didn’t faze that guy at all, but my friends and I lacked his nerve and we had our fingers crossed the whole way. I was glad I was not the driver.
When we reached the end of the road and got out of the car, I had to sit down. That’s when I realized I had traveled that day from below sea level to over 14,000 feet. But we were soon able to scramble the rest of the way up to the top of Mount Evans, intoxicated with the thin air. We lost enough judgment to drive back down worry-free.
After that, the meeting was metaphorically and literally anti-climactic. As I’ve mentioned before, I did not like the “Real Utopias” theme of the gathering, since I thought the theme was just another vehicle for pedaling politically correct forms of social activism. But I managed to avoid all of the thematically related sessions, fulfilled all of my obligations, and met with a representative of the publisher with which I have a contract to produce another book by this coming spring. I was also gratified to receive a minor award, one of the “outstanding reviewer” awards of the journal Sociology of Education. My award consisted of a t-shirt with the phrase “Revise and Resubmit” on the front. I have to confess that I enjoyed seeing colleagues and talking with them. My secret vice is a fondness for people as individuals, even though I’m leery of humanity in the abstract.