Look back at your life. Somewhere there is a person you knew when you were young that you adored, that made you a better person, that was larger than life, magical. You meant to stay in touch, tried even, but life took you down two different paths and somehow they got away.
That didn't happen with Jackie.
It could have, easily. She lives in Idaho. College was a long time ago. Life is busy. But it is not so busy that Jackie and I have not managed to keep that tender spot in our hearts open for each other. She is the one that didn't get away. After our time enjoyed with Guy's sister, Kathi, we tootled on up the road a mere 30 minutes and were with Jackie and John and their girls and sundry animals for the last few days of our big trip.
Not much that we did merits a blow by blow account here, though staying up til dawn talking, and looking out upon the moonlit fields in every direction while visiting, perched on a pile of palates with six farm kitties vying for our attention were most definitely highlights (and for those of you who know that I don't like cats, you must understand that I don't like spoiled, city cats that live pampered lives and eat food from a can, begging to be pet, only to sink their teeth into your hand 5 seconds later when they feel "done". No, my friends. But country cats - thin, sleek and mouse fed, independent but grateful for the occasional pat on the head - are an entirely different story!).
But there was one evening I will want to record, just to make super-sure it doesn't dim in my memory. John invited us to go 4-wheeling. It was summer-evening time, and the sun was low. We drove out to the hills and took turns on the beasts. When it was our turn, Jackie and I took the Ellie and Tessa on the backs of our quads and headed for a place Jackie called "the bone yard". It was up a dirt road a good ways, and the setting sun cast a moody, pink light all around. We turned off the main road to a side trail, and there on the ground we passed dozens of skeletons. Bones of cows, sheep, deer, even horses, lay all around. Some were poised as though they had just lain down to die right on the spot. Others were pulled in half by coyotes. Then there were the strewn bones that had been trampled, maybe by off-roaders like us, and lay like blanched confetti all around. One cow, newer than the rest, still had they hide stretched over its frame, though it was sun dried and tightly pulled across the ribs. It had a rope still tied to its hind legs by which it had been dragged.
It was a strange and other worldly-place, clearly created by humans, though we were the only souls around. We got off our quads and walked carefully around the bone yard. There was a sad reverence there, and a feeling in me of mystery and mischief all at the same time. The girls were smitten by the wildness of the whole thing, and seemed a little awestruck that the mamas were the ones spearheading this venture into the unknown. We explored, curiosity taking the driver's seat, looking closer at the remains, imagining the reasons they had gotten here. We felt bold and brave, and left feeling changed.
We were met by slightly cranky husband-faces when we got back to the cars. We hadn't realized how long we had been out. The sun had set and it was getting dark. I felt sheepish, a mischievous child caught in the act, and guilty that we were gone so long that we had swallowed up the remaining time. Guy didn't even get to ride. But honestly, walking around the bone yard with my girls felt so adventurous.
It may be my favorite memory from this trip, and that is saying a mouthful, because it was a trip full of amazing moments.
The shirt says it all... crazy!
Bone Yard finds.
Ellie and Gracie
Emma and Tessa
When it was time to say goodbye to Jackie, I tucked our precious time spent together into a pocket in my heart. I cried, but Jackie was stoic. I cried some more as we drove across the Idaho hills and into the Nevada dessert. I hate saying goodbye to her. Though she is one of the precious few friends I have held fast to, that doesn't make leaving her any easier.
For 200 miles she sent me text messages with reasons I should turn around and come back.
All numbered. They were most convincing.
I spent the next 200 miles making a list of reasons she should come visit us.
My list was equally compelling. I think it is her turn.
A few grey hairs between us.
Ok, mostly me.
(shhh. don't tell on me. I took a picture of the boy.
I thought he looked very handsome)
in a potty with very confusing mosaics on the walls!
Yes, they were unforgettable.
"...we're on a road to nowhere..."
Somewhere in the middle of "nowhere".
A monument made by a Native American chief in the dessert that was begun in the 1960's, and made ENTIRELY of junk he found in the dessert.
Don't ask me. I have no idea.
We thought we would stop in Reno and go to an inexpensive buffet. Ha, that is a very funny joke. After choking our way through the casino to get to the restaurant (why on EARTH are people allowed to smoke in public buildings?!?!?), we took one look at the prices and walked right back out. $15 for a kid's meal? I think not.
As we left the building, a woman admiring the kids said, "They're beautiful". I thanked her and said I thought so, too. Then as we were walking away, she called out, "Keep them close to you." Her look was intense and kind, and though I usually feel irked when strangers try to give me parenting advice, this time I could see clear to her heart. She sensed these children's importance (like that of all children), and her words were less of a warning, and more of a wish. Keep them close. Not just to guard against the world and it's ways, the smoke filled casinos and the dangers, but close. Close enough to be the one they turn to in times of need. Close enough to make memories out of time spent together.
We left the casino-buffet and went to Johnny Rockets.
It was quiet.
We had fries.
And there wasn't much talking.
Everyone was spent...
all tuckered out.
Just like you, after reading about this trip.
Thanks for hanging in there with me.
Oh. my. cute. ness.
The world through Jonah's eyes.
Home sweet home.