We have wandered the west lassoing Wyoming, and taking in OK, KS, NE, SD, ID, and CO. My Dad loved wandering vacations so he took his teenage brother, his parents and three Taylor children and drove the eight of us to California in a Chrysler Imperial that looked like a batmobile. My dad had always wanted to show his parents the Grand Canyon! We arrived at the rim and we all exited the Chrysler except for Grandma. My dad asked, “Are you getting out?” To which grandma replied, “I can see just fine from here.”
We wandered this land looking for wonders and found them and they were people. The walls are fewer and you can talk over them in an RV. Last night the wind swirled dust and we quickly rolled up our canopy as a squall rocked our home on wheels. Next door a young mother soothed her baby who was crying during the storm.
Meanwhile, in Jackson, I found a fleece pullover at Lee’s T shirts and one of my all-time favorite songs played amongst this sea of tourists. Van Morrison’s These are the Days
These are the days by the sparkling riverV Morrison
His timely grace and our treasured find
Traffic jams and throngs of tourists smitten by the need to find just the right mug or shirt swarm like salmon swimming upstream to spawn leaving behind their money. We went looking for wilderness and found the city.
This is the love of the one magicianv Morrison
Turned the water into wine
Bob asked each of us what our favorite taste was from the trip. Mine was a maple donut from Wall Drug in Wall, SD. Fifty years ago I walked through that same Wall Drug. It’s totally changed now, as am I. How am I different from fifty years ago? Where to even begin. And yet I am still that same child in many ways. What makes us the same person as our childhood self despite a lifetime of change?
These are days of the endless dancingV Morrison
And the long walks on the summer night
Greek historian and writer Plutarch asks: If the ship on which Theseus sailed has been so heavily repaired and nearly every part replaced, is it still the same ship — and, if not, at what point did it stop being the same ship?
These are the days of the true romancing
When I’m holding you, oh, so tight
Substitute planks and sails for your own changes, body, relationships, work, spirit, mind and soul. And yet the ship each of us sail remains trimmed and bedecked by our beginnings. Makes me think of that old Bible school song from youth, “He’s still working on me”
All these places I saw once in my youth are still here and are remarkable. And yet our country has changed so much during the past fifty years just like me. But the roots of our country and the child within each of us still connect our present self to what once was.
We stood on the observation deck gazing at the Tetons with an Delta airline pilot from Seattle. He bought a forty acre farm somewhere down in the valley to the east in Idaho. His wife teaches special education and they have three children. They will move away from Seattle with all its congestion and traffic for the peaceful country we see stretching below us like a patchwork quilt of amber and green. We talk about his hometown of Pittsburgh and his grandfather who once played golf with Arnold Palmer in nearby Latrobe. And we stare at the blue-gray granite peak of Grand Teton in this quiet sanctuary of grandeur. We wish one another good travels and they walk away down the summit trail.
These are the days now that we must savorV Morrison
And we must enjoy as we can
Simone Weil once wrote that, “Joy is the overflowing consciousness of reality.” Wandering about on this RV adventure was about enlarging our experience and yet rooted in not only physical magnificence but in the everyday rootedness of people sharing space and air and beauty. Thanks to Bob And Sheila Martin for having the audacity to invite us along. We shared a lot of stuff, food, beauty, conversation around a fire, but mostly ourselves. Sharing the road together has made all the difference.
These are the days that will last forever
You’ve got to hold them in your heart. – – Van Morrison These are the Days
Thanks for riding along with us.
I’ll close with a note from Wendell Berry