The destination Fargo, North Dakota. The purpose a family reunion. Throw in a dinner table statement from my father, “If we are going to North Dakota, lets extend the journey to include a mini history tour of the western United States.” Some 4500 miles, 70 or so hours gazing out the rear windows of a Chevy Malibu, 8 motel rooms, a suitcase full of souvenirs and baggies full of soil, enough chicken nuggets to make Ronald McDonald dance a jig, and the history lesson was complete.
The trek began from a rural Arizona farming community located 30 miles north of Mexico and 80 miles west of New Mexico. Passing through high desert vegetation, the sage brush adorned in green with silvery-grey leaves freshly bathed by the monsoon rains, we arrived in Silver City New Mexico. Mom gathered soil for her sister’s attempted collection of dirt from all 50 states. ( I pray my aunt invites me when she collects from Hawaii.)
From local Chambers of Commerce we picked up booklets describing the history, geography, and topography of each state we passed through. Between watching laptop movies and playing computer games, I would read aloud interesting f acts and point out land marks along the interstate. “Everyone pay attention, there will be a test when we get home,” my dad would grow wearily fond of saying.
Pueblo Colorado was my first attempt at adjusting to sleeping on queen size mattresses with a fidgety older sister. I would drift off into dream land while journaling my thoughts of the day’s travels‘; while gaining respect for my mother’s ability to wake up rested after a night of thunderous snoring from her partner of 25 years.
4 A.M. wake up calls followed by zombie like car loading became the norm. Drive through fast food French toast sticks can stick to you ribs as well as your shorts, and Willie Nelson’s words “can’t wait to get on the road again,” now played repeatedly in my mind.
As we left the mountains of Colorado and entered Nebraska I had no idea how long it would be again until I experienced landscape with some kind of border. Row after never ending row of corn fields and silos throughout the heartland of the mid west. Corn for ethanol fuel, and for the 4th of July roasting ears. Tractor dust clouds from dawn to dusk as I said a silent prayer for farmers.
North Dakota, reuniting with long lost cousins, and experiencing humidity as a percent much higher than the temperature, making showering an effort in futility. South Dakota and a wonder filled day learning the history of our fore fathers at Mount Rushmore. Side trips to Sturgis South Dakota, meeting place of thousands of Harley Davidson hogs each summer.
Back through Colorado and mountain peaks above the timberline. A corner of Utah and it gorges, through drought stricken Nevada deserts until reaching a sparkling jewel, the city of lights, Las Vegas. Piercing the north western corner of Arizona with deep canyons that were only a suburb of the Grand Canyon. My first glimpses of the majestic splendor of the Pacific Ocean and its eternity of white capped waves.
At last the smell of a home cooked meal and the comfort of a bed lined with long forgotten stuffed animals. A tornado of images in my mind and captured on digital disks. Memories to share with classmates and one day offspring. A summer’s road trip never to be relinquished.
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