Itch

Here I am, just returned from a week-long camping trip in the Sierras, and have already made plans for another long road trip halfway across America and back. The wife and I camped seven nights in Plumas-Eureka State Park and spent several of those days floating on air mattresses on alpine lakes, studying the snowy, craggy mountain peaks that surround the lakes. California wildfire season is in full blaze to the west of where we camped, such that westerly winds smoked us out for a couple of days. The umber skies made for some unusually colorful photographs, but I would much rather have seen blue ones and been able to breathe.

Amiel likens high lake country to that of the life of a human being. Precipitation first falls on the high peaks and begins to form small creeks and springs that then collect into these picturesque lakes that are surrounded with flowery meadows. The water then spills into formed river beds, rushes forcefully down canyons and steep rocky stream beds, then flows out onto wide, deep, level, gently moving rivers. I believe I have already been rushed through most of the canyons, so, following the analogy, I must now be floating out on the deep and wide.

Tomorrow begins a drive from the central California coast, east on Interstate 80, to Salt Lake City; then southeast on smaller roads to visit some LDS cousins living in the back country. From there we drive over the crest of the Rockies on the highest paved road in America, 12,183 feet above sea level; then down the eastern slope of the Rockies, passing through Denver; then a mad dash across the Kansas flat lands to Independence, Missouri for a family reunion.

The route for the return trip, weather permitting, is based on my ancestors’ wagon train expedition of 1842, which began in Independence; followed the Platte and Missouri Rivers; passed through Yellowstone; then west to where the Snake River junctures with the Columbia; then through the Columbia River Gorge and into the Willamette Valley at Salem, Oregon.

Much driving, much scenery. I have been talking over this road trip long enough. I wonder which part of the trip I will find the most interesting. As for scenery, the high country of Colorado will be tough to beat. Following the trail of my pioneer ancestors may be the most inspirational. Google maps tells me I have 4,555 miles ahead of me. Up until my recent retirement of a month ago, I have spent so many hours, days, months, and years, wishing I could be free to roam in wide open spaces. Maybe this long road trip will alleviate that itch?

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