Friday, May 25, 2007

Cross Country Ramble

I was reading my old journals the other day and one shot me back in time to twenty years ago, to a trip taken in an effort to heal a troubled soul and mend a broken heart. I was trying to work my way through a life changing and painful time and decided I needed to do something just for me, something that required enough courage to give me a feeling of strength and confidence. I decided to take a two month sabbatical and wander across the country, landing in Tucson, Arizona, where my father and stepmother lived. There I would spend six weeks getting to know if there was hope for a relationship with a man who had been driven from my life at the age of fourteen.

Since this is about the trip, I will tell you here that my father and I found truth and love and were very close until the day he died. And my stepmother, Mom to me since that trip, took the place in my life that was formerly held by a sociopath. As for the broken heart, as everyone knows, it takes more than a few months to recover from one of those, but I was headed in the right direction.

So, I had my car tuned up, collected maps from AAA, packed, grabbed my guitar and headed out across the land.

I headed south through Massachusetts, Connecticut and so on, visiting a sister along the way, then took my time cruising along The Skyline drive in the Blue Ridge Mt's. of Virginia. Beautiful vistas greeted me at every turn and I spotted many deer munching lush green growth as I traveled along. And there were thousands of delicate white butterflies, gathering at pools of water left by a passing storm.

Next, I rambled through the Great Smokies, magnificent, hazy, blue green mountains that seemed to go on forever. It was my first experience driving through small tunnels bored into the sides of mountains as I made my accent, and the views along the way were breathtaking. At the end of the day I headed down out of the mountains on a road that landed me on a strip of road that was wall to wall amusement parks, starting with Dollywood. I drove on to Nashville.

On through Arkansas, across Oklahoma and the panhandle of Texas, which is where I saw my first cattle yards...and smelled them! Next, New Mexico where, for some of the ride, I traveled along not too far from the Rio Grande, a ribbon of water with the only green for miles, along its banks. At every place I stayed I met the most interesting people and we shared stories of life in different parts of the country. A couple of people I met had never heard of Vermont.

After two weeks of meandering, I landed in Tucson. My parent's home is only two miles from the Catalina Mt's. which rise to nine thousand feet. While I was there I packed some food, a gallon of water and followed the above trail into the range for about three miles and climbed three thousand feet up. It was wonderful. The terrain, so different from home, offered many kinds of cacti, flowers and scrubby trees along with a prolific collection of wild life. Roadrunners, wild donkeys, havalina and jack rabbits were easy to spot. There were places where the going was a bit precarious, but what's an adventure with out a little excitement?

The last week of my visit, my daughters flew in to join us and we all went on a road trip together. We traveled north and took in so many incredible sights that I was dizzy from sensory overload. We visited Montezuma's castle, an ancient Indian dwelling carved high in the side of a cliff and drove down through Oak Creek Canyon into Sedona, the most spectacular red rock country anywhere. We went to Flagstaff, Ponderosa Pine country, then on to the Grand Canyon. I have seen the canyon four times in my life and the wonder and beauty of it never ceases to take my breath away!
Back to Tucson, a night's rest, a tearful good by, and my girls and I headed back home by way of Colorado, Kansas (no twisters) an on. It was one of the best times of my life and the memory is sharp and clear.
A few years later my husband and I took a trip across the land...adventurous, fun and romantic, but that's another story...


Blogger Tammy said...

What an amazing journey of healing! I was wishing that you and I could do this but we would need an entourage. :)

I'm glad you found your dad and your pictures are gorgeous.


10:53 AM  
Blogger thailandchani said...

I've done this as well... and I don't regret a minute of it. When I landed in Tucson (where I stayed for a few years), someone asked what brought me there.

"This is where I ran out of gas."

One of my previous lives must have been nomadic. I love to freely go from here to there, stopping wherever whim leads me.



10:58 AM  
Blogger Pam said...

Tammy - We would need and entourage, wouldn't we? But what fun! Glad I had time with my Dad, too, it changed my life.
Love you, little sister!

Chani - I'm a bit nomadic myself, I love to cruise and moved often before landing here. Love the gas story!

11:47 AM  
Blogger Laurie said...

What a beutifully told story. Thank you for sharing.

1:40 PM  
Blogger Laurie said...

Sorry about the spelling error in the last comment!

1:41 PM  
Blogger Anvilcloud said...

Neat. Here's my version of the Grand Canyon framed by a tree, and here's my view of the Oak Creek Canyon.

1:43 PM  
Blogger Pam said...

Laurie - It was fun to go back and remember!

AC - Hey! I have shots a lot like those. You can't take a bad photo out there unless your camera screws up, it so incredible.

2:39 PM  
Blogger KGMom said...

It is no wonder that great literature uses the motif of a journey to symbolize life changes. Sounds like your journey was both external and internal. And it is wonderful to recall such--with the images to go with it.

9:16 PM  
Blogger Pam said...

Donna - Such a journey truly does produce life changes. Not only did I start to heal and behold incredible beauty as I rolled along, I also met a diverse number of people who opend me to new perspectives on life. I returned home a different and better person.

7:35 AM  
Blogger Cathy said...

Oh Pam - what a beautiful story. It must have taken courage to start out alone, but I imagine you've always had strength.

It's so wonderful that you and your father shared love at last - to the very end. I guess step-moms get a bad rap - it sounds as though yours was a good woman.

Sitll, this wouldn't have happened if you hadn't taken the initiative to face your life and open your heart. Lovely, Pam. The collages are wonderful.

2:44 PM  
Anonymous caroline said...

Hi Pam,
That story, both the plot and the telling, took a mysterious weight off of my chest. Exhilerating. Maybe it was just vicarious thrill, or maybe something was troubling me. Hmmm.

I like the way you set the photos.

10:30 AM  
Blogger Mama P said...

You constantly remind me to journey when all I can think about is the laundry and the cooking. Thank you as always.

12:43 AM  
Blogger Kate said...

Your story was inspirational and the pictures wonderful. I love that you were able to reconnect with your Dad, gain a new Mum and enjoy time spent with them.

I am in need of some healing these days ... and being able to journey along with you brought some peace.

6:10 PM  
Blogger Pam said...

Cathy - Thank you, it was an extraordinay experience. The reconnection to my Dad was the cake, Mom, the frosting.

Caroline - If something was troubling you, I'm glad you feel better! If my story helped, that makes me very happy. I am SO glad that you are back.

Mama P. - It's always more about the journey than the arrival and most journeys are just the day you are in, the appreciation of the small moments in life. You do that so well.

Kate - Having my Dad in my life before he was forever gone was very healing, something I needed more than I knew. If you ever want to chat, my email is on my blog.

6:11 AM  
Blogger pepektheassassin said...

Aren't you GLAD now for kept journals! Great memories!

12:10 PM  
Blogger maureen said...

I LOVED reading this story, Pam! Your memory of that road trip -- and the personal transformation that came about because of your courageous and adventurous decision -- seems to be crystal clear, even now 20 years later. You are lucky to have a good mind for remembering details. And ... for such wonderful memories.

Your photo collections really liven up the story, but it would be full of life even without those pictures.

I, too, have dozens of journals beginning at age 14 or so ... the pages of those journals encompass many journeys like yours. I don't read them often enough, but you've inspired me to go back to a couple of particular journals about transformative trips, Pam.

Just also want to say again how lucky you were that you reconnected with your Dad before he died -- and that you found such a good friends and parent in your stepmother. Blessings ....

9:21 AM  
Blogger Bitterroot said...

Pam, I've just returned from a trip out west and have been enjoying the feast of your blog. This is a splendid story. You are giving us wonderful glimpses of different dimensions of your life - thank you for sharing these.

10:45 AM  

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