Two Hundred Miles of Bad Road
Uncle Bubba: "Do you know what you remind me of?"
Me: "What's that?"
Uncle Bubba: "About two hundred miles of bad road."
A couple weeks ago my wife and I spent most of Saturday and Sunday watching various news channels cover the landfall and hover of Hurricane Harvey.
My Uncle Bubba happened to be on his way back down to Texas from Montana, and stopped by our house in Denver, CO on Monday afternoon. So we took him to dinner and gave him a bed for the night.
The news reports of rainfall seemed to be unrelenting, and communications with the rest of our family in the affected areas assured us they were still "dry" and "fine".
If you do not know many Texans, they have to be one of the most stubborn breeds of people that exist.
The following day I decided to drive down the rest of the way with my Uncle, brought my truck and a few 20L Jerry Cans, heading for our hometowns of Dayton and Liberty, just northeast of Houston. While it did not sound like anyone was in imminent danger of physical harm or property loss, I wanted to be there to help out if and wherever needed, whether they would ever ask me to or not, since I knew they wouldn't.
As I began up Raton Pass heading south into New Mexico out of Colorado, I lost the radio signal for decent stations out of the Denver-metro area, and just flipped my radio in the truck off. I originally intended to search for a station again on the other side of the pass, but simply didn't. As I neared the Texas border 100 miles later, I still left it off. Going through Amarillo, Wichita Falls, Fort Worth, Dallas, Terrell, and Tyler, I left it off.
On the back roads out of Tyler, I encountered a sea of love-bugs in the middle of their mating cycle through Lufkin, Livingston, and Cleveland, stopping at least three times to squeegee my windshield, but left the radio off.
After several days of making some grocery and fuel runs in and out of Dayton and Liberty to some larger towns north of the affected area, bringing in fresh bread, eggs, milk, and helping people fill gas tanks, cases of bottled water, and even finding one half pint of Blue Bell ice cream for an older relative, my services were no longer needed, so I left late one day to head back north.
Driving deep into the night I cruised through the Sam Houston National Forest, Madisonville, Waxahachie, Midlothian, Fort Worth, Rhome, and into Decatur, with the radio still off.
After sleeping just a few hours and getting back on the road early, I made short work of the day, retracing my steps through Amarillo into Clayton, NM and back over Raton Pass, up I-25 to my home just outside of Denver. When I pulled in the radio was still off.
I didn't really plan to drive some 2,000+ miles over the course of a week in silence...but once I discovered the comfort of such an experience, I became hooked. The entire trip was spent rather Zen-like, in a meditative state of sorts, just driving with all my senses focused on driving, and driving alone.
I drove, and I focused on driving, and I reveled in the silence. It was me and the road, with a heartfelt mission to help the 25 some-odd family members who had just sat at home for a few days as 50 inches of rain fell outside, and it was silent and wonderful.
I know what my uncle always meant when he asked me what I reminded him of. There are plenty of stretches of bad road, some just 100 miles, some 200 miles, some thousands of miles in length.
Yet, if we can find the stillness of peace, silence, and focus, we can enjoy even the roughest paths we find ourselves on.
I commend you for sacrificing your time and money to actually take action and help those in need. That was a very 'Jedi' thing to do.
Senan wrote: It is amazing what things we notice when our minds are not constantly being distracted by technology. Tuning out and unplugging once in a while can really make one appreciate the beauty around them. That's why I love camping. I get to spend a night in what is the perceived silence of the pitch black forest, but once you start adjusting, you see stars you've never seen and hear sounds you've never noticed before. After awhile, it's like all of nature is talking to you.
Camping is the BEST!
The silence I found on the road made me wonder what our ancestors thought of in their world. Our world today is SO cluttered with artificial noise that we can hardly find a moment to actually seek that silence and listen to what the stars, or trees, or rain, or wind flying by a cracked window at 80 mph has to say.
I need more moments of this sort of silence. The 2,000+ mile road trip was not enough.