Saturday, July 14, 2012

Road Trip

As I navigated the last few miles from Montezuma Creek west towards Bluff and the trading post where I have spent the last 22 years of my life, the distinctive, earthy voice of John Denver flooded the car.  Radio station KRTZ, 98.6 on the FM dial, had reached into its 1974 archives for a song that perfectly fit my mood.  I was about three miles short of finishing an approximately 2,500 mile road trip that had taken me from Washington D.C. to Maryland, on to Pennsylvania, back to Maryland and then through Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, South Dakota, Nebraska and Colorado. Jana and Grange, who had by then logged more than 5,000 miles, accompanied by Kira, had left a week earlier.  I had arranged to meet them in Washington.  After our joint venture into Pennsylvania, where we visited Philadelphia, the birthplace of our nation, and Gettysburg, where North and South attempted to destroy what had been so carefully built, Kira stayed behind to participate in a two week engineering and student leadership conference at the University of Maryland.
Highway 163 Through Monument Valley (the Forrest Gump road)

"Hey it's good to be back home again", Denver sang.  I nodded my head in agreement.  When we turned into the shimmeringly hot gravel parking lot of Twin Rocks Trading Post a few minutes later, I noticed Priscilla standing behind the sales counter.  Buffy the O Dog, having been left with our friend during the duration of our trip, was not at her usual location.  Entering the store, I happily greeted Priscilla and breathed a large sigh of relief.  It was indeed good to be back home again.  As is most often the case since the great financial calamity of 2008, the shop was quiet.  Many of our former customers have more important things to worry about, so turquoise jewelry and Navajo rugs and baskets get less attention than they once did.  Barry had left for northern Utah a few hours before my return, so Priscilla was the store's only occupant.  After taking a little time to re-acclimate, I sat down at my computer to address the mountain of email I was sure had accumulated in my absence.  When it comes to electronic mail, I am old fashioned and refuse to remotely check in while I am away.

As I scanned the list of messages, one in particular caught my attention.  It was from my old schoolmate Greg, and the caption mentioned Tracy.  Tracy was our running partner from law school who had died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound only days after our graduation.  Chronic depression was how the professionals explained it.  We could not help thinking it was strange how we had overlooked that trait during the three years and thousands of miles we had logged together.  Greg's missive mentioned that he had recently met with several fellow students and that Tracy's name had come up during their conversations.  As I ran through the years subsequent to Tracy's death, I began to see how the trip I had just completed might be a metaphor for life.

Ours is a big country, and I did not realize just how big until this trip.  Like life itself, my journey was long and tiring, punctuated with unusual occurrences and unexpected experiences.  Speeding across the Midwest, with its never-ending fields of corn and soy beans, reminded me of day-to-day life.  As I often tell Kira and Grange while we slog through a particularly tiring run, there are things you just have to get through; efficiency and speed are not a factor.  The Midwest can be like that.  While I found its gently rolling, deep green hills perfectly beautiful, I was amazed by how much of it there was.  Never, however, was I bored by the land or its inhabitants, and I constantly found things that captured my attention.

Hidden among all those miles were treasures that defy one's imagination.  A sculpture garden located along the freeway in a location miles from any recognizable habitation; Wall Drug, with its endless inventory of kitsch; Mount Rushmore, with its indescribable majesty and raw beauty; and the mountains of Colorado.  These are things that I equated with enduring love, children, literature and unexpected friendships.  One can never be sure when or where these gems might spring up or what effect they will have on your life.

At Twin Rocks Trading Post unusual detours are a daily, if not hourly, occurrence.  A telephone call from Santo Domingo bead maker Ray Lovato can keep me laughing for hours; a visit from basket weaver Lorraine Black will inevitably confound me for weeks and a stopover by Elsie Holiday is certain to make me question my fiscal sanity for months.  Like this recent trip, the trading post journey is uniquely engaging.  One thing Tracy's death taught me is that while the road may be long and the travel tedious, exiting the freeway prematurely is a colossal mistake.  I cannot imagine missing one single mile.  Hey it's good to be back home again.
With warm regards,
Steve, Barry and The Team

Great New Items! This week's selection of Native American art!

Our TnT's purchased new treasures! Check out Traders in Training!

Enjoy artwork from our many collector friends in Living with the Art!

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