Saturday, September 11, 2010

Warren and April's Big Trip

"Are you ever going to write about our trip?"

Warren posed that question to me late the other night.

"I don't know," I replied, adding "I have written about our trip."

Well, a little. And I did write about the wedding, which is, unbelievably, now more than a month behind us.

Warren's question came back to me yesterday as we headed to Mansfield, an hour north of here, for an afternoon rehearsal and evening concert. About three-quarters of the way there, I said, somewhat incredulously, "I think this is the farthest we have driven together since coming back from our trip."

I was quiet a moment, then added, "In fact, this the first I've been out of the county since getting back."

Yesterday was an early fall day. The soybean fields are turning golden. Trees are looking dusty as the summer greens fade. The afternoon sky was not the deep blue we see in October, but it was not the thin, almost transparent blue of high summer either.

A month ago we were driving across the plains at the height of summer.

Am I going to write about our trip? Apparently, judging by this post.

As always, the small moments stick in my mind:

Hot fudge sundaes in Le Mars, Iowa, at the Blue Bunny ice cream parlor and then, as we drove further east into the night, stopping on a two-lane road in rural Iowa, cutting the headlights, and seeing the Milky Way spread out above us.

The golden rolling hills of Montana.

Mount Rushmore being far larger than I remembered.

Clouds above the plains, endlessly changing.

The big buffalo. The big cheese. The big sundae.

The big spaces.

The terrible empty stillness at Little Bighorn.

Coming around a bend in the road and catching our first glimpse of Devils Tower.

Looking at the architecture everywhere we were. At one point, I turned to Warren and said "I've driven over 1700 miles and what do I do but look at buildings?" (To which he replied, grinning, "all you've done on this vacation is show me rocks.")

The Music Man footbridge in Mason City, Iowa.

Sheer American goofiness that works just because it is so goofy: the Corn Palace, the gnome Ferris Wheel.
The joy of crossing the Continental Divide.

Fistfuls of small moments.

Since coming back, the routine events of daily life, not to mention the demands of our schedules, have swept in again like the tide. Meetings, band camp, legal clinic, the first football game, the Symphony office move, coffee with friends, breakfasts, laundry, dishes, groceries - you know.

Daily life hasn't changed one bit.

But I am. Changing, that is. I have written about my disorientation since coming back. I am rooted again, but I am changing. The trip kicked open a door to change. I can't define it, I can't describe it yet, but I can feel it.

After feeding the throngs who followed him up into the hills on five loaves and two fishes, Jesus told his disciples, "Gather up the fragments that are left over, that nothing may be lost." (John 6:12)

We took a great many photos on our trip, gathering memories, that nothing may be lost.

Warren still speaks with reverence and appreciation about our trip. For him, it was a chance to see a part of the country he never thought he'd see. The highlight of his trip was Devils Tower, which we walked around the base of when we were there.

For me, it was the chance to revisit places I never thought I would see again. My highlight was the plains - the Dakotas, Montana - and their vast emptiness. It was driving US 12 across Montana, watching it unroll from east to west, and losing myself and my thoughts in those golden hills.

Sometimes my small moments seem like fragments of the day - a chance meeting of a friend while dashing to the grocery, an unexpected note in the mail, Warren's face lighting up in a smile. Our trip was full of so many of those moments - threaded together by laughter and wonder and shared companionship.

And hot fudge sundaes.


Sharon said...

It sounded like a wonderful trip. My mouth is salivating as I look at those delicious hot fudge sundaes....Oh my....

Thanks for posting the gorgeous pictures!

Frugal Scholar said...

Somehow, I happened upon your blog...such wonderful writing. Many thanks.

(Hoping I'll find you again...)

Deedee said...

Hi! I started with Donna Freedman (I'm a big fan of Donna) who had a link to @I am the working poor where you commented. Congratulations on your marriage! I wish you many years of happiness. Did you visit Helena on your journey? That's where I am. I will be exploring your site more and I will return to follow your posts. I enjoy your writing and what you have to say.

April said...

@Deedee: Welcome! The wedding was my son's, not mine and Warren's, but yes, it was in Helena. They live there (it is his wife's hometown). If you look at my August posts, there is one about their wedding.

Deedee said...

Oh, so sorry. I should have read further before commenting. Saw "wedding" and read about the trip and *assumed* (should never do that-duh) it was a honeymoon trip. Anyway, how lovely your post was about Ben and Alise's wedding! So I will shift my congratulations and best wishes to them. But I still enjoy your writing and will still return to read more! Thank you.

I am the working poor. said...

I love your photos. That's what I need, a big long wild road trip. Glad you had fun and fit so much in.