Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Return to Tornado Alley

Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don't be afraid.
Frederick Buechner

AP Photo

Last April 27 a massive tornado struck Tuscaloosa, Alabama. My youngest son, Ian, a then freshman at the University of Alabama, took the following picture just moments after the tornado left on its path to further destruction.

A few days ago, I drove the 11 hour and 38 minute drive with Ian back to Tuscaloosa for his sophomore year. (On the road again. Seems to have become my mantra.) Our arrival rekindled many memories for him - not such great memories of his hasty departure from a city without power or water. Of the newly homeless wandering aimlessly. The agonizing search for loved ones.

We returned to the location where he had taken that picture and he took another.

The sky is blue and no longer menacing. The destruction, albeit somewhat more organized, remains.

This small lake, still filled with debris. A dumpster. Pieces of wood. Pieces of homes. The wrecking crew slowly plows through the once upon a time neighborhood, hauling away the pieces of once upon a time lives. Many demolished homes await the crew that makes its way methodically through the mess that once held such life.
All this land, once filled with homes and businesses. Trees.

Life does go on. This path through the university quad this day bustles with new and returning students. The first day of the new semester, teachers and students, take on the new year in spite of the anxieties many retain from the frantic aftermath.

My boy included.
New room, new classes, new adventures awaiting.
Of course, this meant I had one of those goodbyes that stab my heart.

"Be good, Ian. Do well. I'll see you sometime - soon."

Awful quiet around here.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Adventure Continues - Blowing Down the Road

I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don't notice it...People think pleasing God is all God care about. But any fool living in the world can see it always trying to please us back.
Alice Walker, The Color Purple, 1982

{This post has taken longer to put together than the entire trip. I don't want to download any more photos to Blogger for a very long time.}

Middle son, Jordan, and I continued our adventurous trek through Wyoming. After a good night's sleep following a day of geological delights, the Thermopolis hot springs, and the Buffalo Bill Historical Museum we headed out from Cody to take on Yellowstone National Park.

Finally Yellowstone.
This was our first view of geothermal activity. Smoke coming up out of the rocks on the roadside.

We stopped at places where we could read signs, like this one explaining that grizzly bear live in places like this.
When we turned around to look on the other side of the road, our jaws dropped. Damn, it was a bear. Right there in the middle. A grizzly bear. We watched him swim all the way to another island. He definitely swims laps faster than me.

From Yellowstone Lake to the Yellowstone River.
"Hey, we'll take your picture if you'll take ours."

The water was bringing it.

Jordan liked taking pictures of the Cutthroat Trout, waterfowl, and bugs. Me?
I had to take a picture of my shoes, of course.
Then, we spotted the buffalo.
They got closer...
and closer...
and a little too close.
Hey, big boy.
I made Jordan a bet that park rangers bring these guys in on a truck in the morning. Set them up beside the road. Then at dusk, come back, blow a whistle, and the buffalo all file back on the truck. Sleep in a barn overnight.
Jordan just looked at me, wondering how he ended up with me.

Onto the sulfur mud springs.
Nice. Bubble, bubble. Gurgle, gurgle.

Another stop light in the middle of no where. At least this one had actual workers, doing something.
This was Jordan's favorite part of the trip. After enjoying the hot springs the previous day, I couldn't wait to find another spring. We ventured to the Madison Junction campsite. Big signs said you had to register to drive through and Jordan pointed to them as I drove by. My guidebook said to go to a certain campsite, park at the bathroom, and find a small trail. We found it and then found the scene above.
You can see how the water was bubbling.
This one too, That little section in front of the river was hot, hot, hot, but certainly soakable. Several hikers passed us as they headed downstream to a more well known swimming hole. They didn't have my guidebook and I most certainly didn't share what they were passing.
I didn't make Jordan go swimming again. And a few miles down the road, he said, "Are we done with the hot spring hunting now?"
I closed my hot spring book, earmarked with several more spots.
"Yes, we are."

Onto a spot for lunch.Salmon jerky, elk sausage, Brie cheese, carrots, bananas, cinnamon bread spread with honey. Animal crackers. Wine for later.

We moved from the beautiful water to this -- the Geyser Basin.

Paint pots.

Reminded me of the blue in the Caribbean

And then, Old Faithful. Jordan and I sat there for 85 minutes waiting for it to go off. Just as it began to bubble, my camera died. Go figure. Jord covered me though. He got 21 pictures of it.
We drove away from the multitude of tourists and buses and back into the country. As we came to a rare intersection, I spotted a moose cow right by the road. As Jordan was teasing me that I didn't have a camera ready, we came upon all these cars parked on the road.

Had to stop, see what was going on.

Bear JamOur second grizzly of the day. Everybody was scrambling around to get good photos. Poor park rangers trying to keep people from standing on the bridge and getting run over. Some people running to get the shot. Crazy.
After a pleasant night at the Grant Village, a bison burger eaten in a restaurant right on the 141 mile around Yellowstone Lake, we headed out the next morning. Came across this group on a float trip.

As the Teton Range began to peak out at us through the haze, we came across a herd of elk. Due to bear activity, we couldn't walk further into the area.

Then incredible beauty rose before us, and we hit every roadside stop to take it in.

"Hey, we'll take your picture if you'll take ours."

Happened upon this church - The Chapel of the Transfiguration

I'm thinking I would have a hard time concentrating on the sermon in this incredible place.
A side note - two days before, we were driving through a small Wyoming town. Came across a church with a big white sign on the side. OPEN SUNDAYS.
Cracked us up.

On to Jackson - and lunch. A pesto calzone accompanied by a Teton Ale.

Our hotel room - The Anglers Inn
A walk about town. All the sidewalks are made of wood and Jordan's boots sounded cool against the wood. Kind of like the old westerns. Just needed a horse to leave at a trough.
Town Square
Dance Hall
Delphiniums. I so can't grow them at home.
The best part of the restaurant where we ate dinner. (Youngest son, Ian, was right. Don't eat Mexican in Wyoming.) Loved the artwork, though.

Next morning, we picked up the local paper and had breakfast. I took this photo as sometimes I look at my children and they remind of when they were a child. Same pose. Have seen this one many times.
Of course, payback is a bitch.
Had the best Eggs Benedict. Open all day. Would go back for dinner, but... was time to get back to Jordan's ranch.
Anyone know what kind of animal this is hanging on the wall in his cabin?
While Jordan cooked me dinner, I sat on his front porch and

kibitzed with one of his friends.

Who told Jord's other friends to come by and say hello.

Next morning it was time to drive back to Denver and catch a flight home. I don't like goodbye's. I'm not very good at them. So I stole a line from my dad, who wasn't very good at them either.

"I'll see you sometime," I said to Jord as I honked and drove away.


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