Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Wild West

In order for us to experience what is left of the Wild West, we have to drive East.

East, beyond the settled lands surrounded by rivers, forests, mountains. Up and outward, through the wind farms and ranchland, until all sound and scent of manmade congestion is but a memory.
There, in the middle of nowhere, is a little place we've been before.
To my mountain-girl eyes, which are accustomed to green everywhere, my daily world full of trees reaching toward the sky on all horizons, this landscape is entirely foreign and exotic.

Windswept undulating hills of grassland broken only by brave homesteads and weather-beaten barns, fencelines occasionally cutting across, following invisible lines of ownership.
We went to escape the bounds of duty and the weekly schedule. Out there even the cell phones are quieted, and the satellite wireless, although readily available while in the ranch house, is two-decades-ago s l o w. We drove for a full hour on the paved roads and only saw two other cars and one tractor.

We also went to shoot things.
Balloons for the kids and old trucks and empty propane tanks for the grown-ups. BB guns, .22 pistols and rifles, various other gauges and powers available for making adult boys' faces full of grins.
And maybe even this girl's face, a little.
If I were a landscape painter, this place would hold a grip on my artist's heart. I might have to give it a try the next time we go, just to stand in a place like this and capture the movement of clouds with something other than lens and aperture.
On a nearby hillside, in a place chosen for who-knows-what-reason, lies an old pioneer cemetery. The first night we could see lights glowing among the headstones, an eerie sight in a place where there is no electricity. We braved the tick-infested grassland to take a closer look by daylight.
The glowing lights turned out to be solar lawn lights placed in a family plot that holds both old and new burials. Both a relief and a reminder of the staying power of strong bloodlines that sometimes tie people to the ground that they toil over.

Being an old cemetery and created in a harsh landscape during a time with few medical advancements, it not surprisingly held a large percentage of young people and infants. This was sobering and disturbing to some of our party. I personally found the lost markers and unidentified sites the hardest to digest. Lives lived and lost with little or nothing left behind for remembrance.
In the grand turning of the wheel of time, our lives are really oh-so-short. Maybe that is why I like to visit old burial places... to help me keep perspective and remind me that I can only do so much, but what I can do I should, to add light to the world.
I didn't really set out to get philosophical in this blog post, but as usually happens when I set my fingers to the keyboard, words came tumbling out of their own accord. So I leave them there where they landed because they do somehow fit.

Our group, at the end of the weekend, was tired and ready for familiar beds, but happier and fuller for the memories added to our life stories. I like this new tradition.
Our final stop before resuming normal life had to be at our favorite giant-ice-cream-cone dealer.
The end... until next year, that is...
I hear the date has already been set.


Von said...

What a great weekend! Now that I've lived in the Tri-Cities for 30 years, I am positively claustrophobic when I spend much time west of the Cascades, lol! I can't believe that I've fallen for the wide open, constantly changing sky, and even the grass and sagebrush. I'm so glad you appreciate it too. :)

capecodgirl565 said...

Looks like you all had a great weekend. Nothing like some family shooting; great you are teaching your kids responsible firearm handling...kudos!

Thoeria said...

That's what we all need.....to just get away from the humdrum mad pace of everyday things and just enjoy the huge open space!

Pam in IL said...

Wonderful family time!