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Out West is where my heart is

I had an appointment yesterday with the autism specialist and he was asking me questions. What do I like to do? What have I ever saved money for? If I could have any job I wanted, what would it be? Etc. I noticed that most of my answers pointed west. (A play on words there). I enjoy traveling out west. I saved money a few times for a trip out west. My dream job was always to drive an escort car following a wide load truck all around the country - mainly out west. If I could live anywhere I wanted, it would be Montana. So, naturally I came home yearning for the west. I miss it and the only reason I'm not there is because my kids and grandkids are not.

For about 5 years, in my early thirties, I guess, I was moving around a lot with my husband at the time. My family did not know where I was and could not contact me. I would occasionally get a roll of quarters and go to a pay phone and call my mom, just to let her know we were fine and make sure everyone there was, too. I liked it. My husband drove a truck and was gone 80 % of the time. I liked it. I was a lone, no friends, with 1 baby, then 2. I liked it. I like being alone. In the eastern U.S., I can never really feel alone. Everywhere I go there are people everywhere. No matter how far I drive, there are cars and houses filled with people. There are big cities and small towns, but everywhere I look is civilization and people. That's why I spend 90% of my time inside my home. I drive anywhere and have traffic (even in the smaller towns and countryside). There are stop lights, buildings, road signs, bill boards, chaos.

So why do my answers all point west? There is no peaceful feeling as I get driving mile after mile and seeing NOTHING. I've driven over an hour through Wyoming along a two lane highway and see nothing. There's not a house. I don't meet a single car. There's no civilization, no chaos, no anything. I look and all I see is sagebrush, dirt, cactus, dried up ravines, antelope and prairie dogs. There's a spot as I drive across I 90 through South Dakota. I've been looking at corn fields and wheat fields for 2 days and the road inclines and there's a rest area that I pull off that is at the top of the incline. At the top I look behind me and see nothing but wheat fields. I look ahead and there it is: WEST. Barren ground with sage brush and cactus and I know I'm there. That peaceful feeling immediately comes over me and I'm where I want to be.

I stay on I 90 through South Dakota, changing directions toward the north in Wyoming and drive through Montana. I've loved every second of this drive looking out over all the barren land with a small, run down home here and there. Yes, I've driven through some small western towns and I love them all and want to stop and spend time at the all. I do stop at Wall Drug and drop down to drive through the Badlands with land erosion creating a beautiful site to behold. Some of the peaked land formation reach upward and while peaked crevices drop downward. The prairie dogs are popping their heads out of their holes or standing along the roadside to catch the breeze as I whirl by. Badlands was always one of my favorite places to visit as we traveled out west during my childhood. Climb up formations, climb down into the crevices with each formation completely unique. I enjoy the ocean, but you look out over the ocean and from every point along the coast, you see ocean and an ocean is an ocean is an ocean. But here, every inch of every direction I look has it's own uniqueness and amazement. The entire west is like that to me.

So as I drive through Montana, about halfway through I can see miles and miles across the flat barren land to see the rugged peaks of the Rocky mountains. As I drive, the mountains are becoming larger and larger. I turn north onto I 15 and then east again right for Glacier National Park. The land is still flat and I can see small storm clouds way over there and way over here, but I'm not close to either. I look ahead and see the rugged, rocky peaks with the tree line below that is so distinct. Pine trees cover the lower portion creating a slightly crooked line with gray rugged rock reaching up into the sky. There is snow covering the caps and creating patterns matching the formation of the jagged mountain top. I know that within an hour I will starting my climb across these rugged mountains looking over at all the splendor God put here for me to enjoy. I reach the top and feel like I'm on top of the world. I'm home, or, at least, closer to home.

I remember writing a poem years ago about being in love with Montana. Funny, I don't remember writing love poems to any man, but there it is, my love poem to Montana. More than one, actually. There stirs a passion inside of me when I dream of the west. Not just the beauty of nature itself, but I can sit among a dozen people overlooking the same sight and still feel alone with my thoughts, alone with nature and alone with me.

I may not live in the west, but I will always be able to return there in my heart and recapture those feelings of solitude. And I forgot to tell the doctor all this.

Comments

I moved from the East Cost to California many years ago, and I have a sister in Montana, so I can relate. The drive from Salt Lake City to Sacramento is 2 days through a lot of desolate areas in Utah and Nevada. New Mexico and the whole 4 Corners area are spectacular for that too.
 
I've never been to the US but whenever I see those wide open spaces you describe so well on the screen , I wish I could. There's some amazing scenery in the UK and so much history, but nothing on that grand scale.
 
I've never been to the US but whenever I see those wide open spaces you describe so well on the screen , I wish I could. There's some amazing scenery in the UK and so much history, but nothing on that grand scale.
Here's a couple more for you. Santa Fe, New Mexico (an amazing city) to Carlsbad Caverns is 300 miles of spectacularly desolate land. At Carlsbad Caverns, you can see one of the most amazing underground caverns in the world, and then at dusk you can watch 2 million (yes Million) bats exit the cave to go hunt for the night.
 
I've never been to the US but whenever I see those wide open spaces you describe so well on the screen , I wish I could. There's some amazing scenery in the UK and so much history, but nothing on that grand scale.
Many years ago, my wife and I stayed at Goulding's Trading Post in Monument Valley, which is on the Navajo Reservation, so it's a tribal park. We watched a lightning storm move across the valley, lighting the monuments from the back. I'll never forget it.
 
I moved from the East Cost to California many years ago, and I have a sister in Montana, so I can relate. The drive from Salt Lake City to Sacramento is 2 days through a lot of desolate areas in Utah and Nevada. New Mexico and the whole 4 Corners area are spectacular for that too.
I've stayed at Gouldings Trading Post, too and LOVED it. Did you happen to stop (if you were driving south) at Twin Rocks café?
 
I moved from the East Cost to California many years ago, and I have a sister in Montana, so I can relate. The drive from Salt Lake City to Sacramento is 2 days through a lot of desolate areas in Utah and Nevada. New Mexico and the whole 4 Corners area are spectacular for that too.
For me it was more than 30 years ago so I couldn't tell you about the Twin Rocks, but I'll always remember Gouldings. I was there in the mid-80s with my wife and in the 60s as a kid with my family. FWIW, I visited my 50th state when I was 16.
 
You are right about the wide open spaces in the west. I have lived in Idaho for fifty years and my wife was born here. One of our favorite things to do is exploring, whether it is in the mountains or the desert. There are a lot of places to explore in the western US.
 

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