Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Epilogue: Been there, seen a whole bunch

When you take a trip that covers more than 4,500 miles (so said the odometer but it was actually more when you factor walking and driving in other vehicles), you get to see plenty of sights unable to envision at the place you call “home.” There are no mountains or oceans anywhere near Plano, Texas, on the vast plains of North Texas; there are no sights that take your breath away or make you pause for an eternity to burn an impression into your brains.
You either forge that momentary memory into your mind and store it for permanent recall … or you take a photo to remind you of that frozen image. Between the two of us, we took photos totally more than a gigabyte of storage on our laptop. Perhaps close to 1,000 photos – give or take the hundred or so that were dumped along the way (out of focus, insufficient light, someone didn’t want her picture taken, etc.).
It’s like that on every trip we take and our files are growing with burned CD images of where we’ve been and what we’ve seen.
Well, almost…
There are some things that you just cannot forget; moments that WILL live forever inside your soul: seeing the Statue of Liberty in New York City, the Liberty Bell and Constitution Hall in Philadelphia or the USS Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor; the magnificence of the Mackinac Bridge, the lush green rolling grounds of central Kentucky (where the champion thoroughbreds are nurtured) and the silent lands in Virginia and Tennessee where brother fought brother during the Civil War; the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. and the sound of the creeks along the roads leading to that shrine.
Here are some of the things we saw, and heard, and did, (and will remember) – often odd, but always unique:
seeing wildlife, such as elk, prairie dogs and a herd of bison;
finding orange trees located (and growing) in a city’s downtown plaza (Riverside, Calif.);
locating the world’s tallest thermometer (in Baker, Calif., and it read over 100 degrees that MORNING) next to a store selling “Alien Jerky;”
getting passed by a Smart car, on an Arizona freeway, doing OVER 75 miles per hour;
watching several $250,000 Lamborghinis zoom past us on Los Angeles roadways (along with the stray Aston-Martin or two);
seeing HOV lanes … on freeway entrance ramps?!?! (of course, it was in California);
facing police check points for traffic going over Hoover Dam;
two-cent slot machines … at a high-class joint like The Bellagio;
noticing traffic warning signs for elk, ram/sheep, mule and horse crossings, as well as one warning people NOT to step close to the edge of a cliff for fear of falling;
seeing traffic stop lights SOLELY for the purpose of allowing pedestrians to cross busy streets (in Tucson);
drinking mango margaritas or eating salads topped with pomegranate dressing;
viewing two rainbows over the right-field fences in different ballparks (Albuquerque and Las Vegas);
visiting a minor league ballpark situated within a residential development (instead of a municipal park in most other cases);
seeing two-time Olympic gold medalist Jennie Finch (as stunning as she is talented) sitting 20 feet from me in Oklahoma City and then watching Manny Ramirez during his rehab assignments in Albuquerque;
watching a full (one hour) local evening newscast … without a sportscaster (ask yourself when was the last time YOU saw that!);
looking at the sun set over the San Bernardino Mountains and mule teams train down in the Grand Canyon.
There are more of those memories and they will flash before our eyes with the mere mention of a word, song or thought. It’s how vacations should be for everyone.
Things are back to “normal” at home; the dog chases the cat, the cat doesn’t like it and we both look at each other and shrug our shoulders. Jodie has to get up earlier to start her commute to Dallas City Hall for work, and I have to join her as chauffeur to the DART light rail station (to and from).
There are upcoming birthdays to remember, bills to be paid, problems around the house to be fixed and friends with whom to be reacquainted. We’ll complain about the heat, the roller-coaster cost of gasoline (please make up your damn minds on the price) and why a watermelon costs more than a steak.
In other words, life is back and we knew before the trip. But ... aha, for a brief second (or two or 10), we can flick the mouse on a folder containing photographic memories and for the shortest time, simply flash to that scene in the Grand Canyon or Isoptope Park or to a roadside along Route 66. It means we can “vacate” the present and go back to the “vacate-ion” ... and just smile.
For the final time … until we meet again … shalom!

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