Westbound and Rolling – Taking Refuge in the Road

Wheels keep on turnin…

I’ve driven through the desert, alpine forests, canyons, farmland, and cities.  From East to West, North to South…

At the moment I’m in a hostel in Bozeman, Montana.  What a place!  The people are incredibly friendly… I guess when it snows for eight months out of the year, the summer must be a pretty happy time.  Montana is a dream.  Just as Steinbeck put it, “I’m in love with Montana. For other states I have admiration, respect, recognition, even some affection. But with Montana it is love. And it’s difficult to analyze love when you’re in it.”

There really is nothing quite like crossing the Montana state border.  There’s just something different about this state… the golden hue of the countryside, the way the sun turns into a huge glowing amber orb sitting on top of the mountains… everything feels like there is just a hint of magic to it.

Washington and Oregon felt rugged.  There is just so much dense, mossy wilderness from all the rain that you feel like you’re constantly driving through a rainforest.  Beautiful, but exhausting.  However Montana… Montana feels like an oasis of natural splendor: A state with landscape carved so intricately it wrangles every feeling you intended to keep white fisted and hidden from the world, and then sneaks a lasso into your heart to yank them out in the form of tears.

At this point I can feel the road starting to wear on me… sometimes it feels like I’m chasing something and sometimes it feels like I’m running away.  When there is nobody but yourself for hundreds of miles in any direction, those two yellow lines on the horizon make the world start to feel a little bit bigger and a little bit lonelier.

Looking back on this journey so far, the past seven weeks have felt like seven years.  I experience so much in a single day that I feel as though I’ve learned and felt and thought about so much more than I had all summer prior to April 15th.  The road makes you feel things, it forces you to open up, shakes your heart awake… “Look! Look at the damn mountains! Look at the ocean! Look at the horizon of cornfields for more miles than your eyes can see!” The road begs you to feels its beauty, its history… to constantly be reminded of how small we really are.

There are days when I feel on top of the world… literally.  I climb and hike and run and jump and splash and then fall asleep feeling so rejuvenated.  There are other days when the sun peaks out from behind a mountain range and I can’t help but feel a sense of doom at the mere sight of it… knowing I have lived yet one more day and Kelly hasn’t.

I think processing all of these feelings and grieving and mourning while being on the road is the best possible thing for me, personally, to have done during this time of grieving.  I go back and forth with that, but I’m beginning to really feel the impact that this trip is making not only on me, but on those whom I love.  My dad told me that he had a meeting with my little (13 year old) brother, Joey’s, teacher at school and when the teacher asked him who he respected, he replied, “My sister. Because she had a terrible loss but still had the courage to drive around the country doing what Kelly had planned for her.”  In hearing those words from my little brother, I realize this trip isn’t just about me anymore… and when I feel like I would rather just give up and come home, I remember what Joey said, and it gives me the strength to keep going.

For the road, I am completely dependent, for it gives me the space to feel open.

For my friends and family, I am infinitely grateful, for they give me the strength to keep going.

And for the land and the sea, I am in love, for they are the glue continuously binding me to Kelly.







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