Trails End, and the Companies of Men Must Part
Trip Start May 13, 2010
5Trip End May 16, 2010
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I've been puzzling about how to write this entry. It's really just the drive home. We stopped by Devil's Tower, an odd, igneous formation that juts menacingly from the flat-ish surrounding landscape. We saw teams of climbers hoping to conquer the rock and prayer cloths left by native Americans who hoped the rock would conquer something for them. It's interesting how people are universally drawn to participate in the strange, but invent a million diverse ways to do it.
Anyway. We all agreed that we felt as though we'd been gone forever. Paired with the back-of-the-head knowledge that James and Julie would leave soon for two years on Africa (all the more frustrating as the friendships were just beginning to mature), the warped sense of time made us resist the end of the trip more than normal.
I get a lot of questions about driving to Yellowstone for a weekend, but the sights, powerful as they are, were an excuse. Americans are sort of unique in feeling the call of the open road and we tell ourselves that it's the going, the endless possibilities we imagine as we see the asphalt stretch out into the horizon, that drives us. But if the road trip stems from our cowboy culture, a sort of psychic attempt at a personal Manifest Destiny, then the end is just as important as the beginning.
James and Julie's departure reminded me that life is a constant process of abandonment and renewal. The decision to drive West, to do it in one crazy shot, was partly to grab on toour collective now and partly to remind ourselves that we start and end long journeys all the time; we survive the ends and find new starts without half knowing it. Diving into America's rugged history made me homesick for a place that disappeared long before I was born. In retrospect, my mourning over a forgotten time echoed my angst at my friends leaving to start another stage in their lives; in turn a reminder of my own fading youth urging me to find a path to an undiscovered West. If I'm supremely lucky, the metaphor will hold and the ones I love will come along for the ride.