Not Your Ordinary Travel Journal

Solitary Tree

Solitary Tree in Iowa © 2008 Bo Mackison

As we drove the roads guiding us westward earlier this fall, I scribbled thoughts into my journal as they passed fleetingly through my mind. I’m sometimes fascinated, and a little disconcerted, at what I choose to document for future consideration. Here is a sampling of the notes from the beginning of the trip, as we began in Wisconsin and headed west towards Denver.

“West of Des Moines the country grows drier, though surprising to me, it has a distinct roly-poly-ness, rather like a split-second capture of grassy waves.”

There is a Las Vegas in Nebraska. Now what would the Spanish translation be for las vegas?” (I later Google the word and find it means “the meadows” – understandable, I suppose, in Nebraska, but does the Las Vegas in Nevada really have meadows?)

“Thirty miles west of Des Moines, the land suddenly flattens, the plains appear and seem to be infinite. I-80 narrows, in anticipation of less traffic. Suddenly it feels really out west.”

“I’m hungry. What I’d really like is a toasted pimento cheese sandwich. Craving a toasted pimento cheese sandwich. Really craving!”

“There is a town in Nebraska called Republican City. I wonder how many people living there are Democrats.” (Research tells me it is the only so named city in the world, named for the Republican River, not the Republican Party, but I haven’t been able to determine the percentage of citizens who are registered Republicans versus Democrats.)

There are sandhills in western Nebraska. I didn’t know there were sandhills here. Is there sandhill country like this in other places in the United States? In the world?” (Again, later that day I Google sandhills. I rely on the source of all sources, Wikipedia, to inform me that there are sandhill regions not only in Nebraska, but also in the Carolinas. I learn the Nebraska sandhills are the largest and most intricate wetland ecosystem in the United States, and never having been farmed, it is an intact eco-system with huge diversity. Wow! Way to go, Nebraska! Apparently the less fortunate Carolinas’ sandhills have been domesticated, and seem most famous for their golf courses.

“Came upon the first of many cattle feedlots as we approach the Colorado border. Horrifying. How can this be tolerated?”

“Such noticeable changes as we pass through the states – in Wisconsin and Iowa there were prairie wildflowers growing on the roadsides. In Nebraska, lots of tall, brown dried grasses. Now that we are in Colorado, there is a mix of sagebrush interspersed with the clumps of grasses.”

Such were my musings from Wisconsin through Iowa and Nebraska and finally into Colorado.

It re-affirms my daily task of journaling. These aren’t the kinds of things I would easily recall, nothing very noteworthy, but they add a little more dimension to the trip. They give me the opportunity to research and follow up on questions I might otherwise leave unanswered. And who knows what kind of inspiration they may provide in the future. Never can tell what kind of inspiration I may draw from a toasted pimento cheese sandwich!


About Bo Mackison

I'm a photographer, book-artist, traveler, naturalist, and creator of the Contemplative Creatives Journey, An Online Workshop and Community and Desert Wisdom Cards and Workshops. Though often not well known, I find the desert a welcoming place - a healing space. Its mysteries and gifts transformed me several years ago. Since that first encounter, I return again and again to fill my well in what most people think of as a desolate region. I'd love to share my desert discoveries and wisdom with you. Please subscribe to receive my five part mini email course The Gifts of the Desert. It's my gift to you.

Comments

  1. Love the bits and pieces of your journal. What a wonderful way to be truly present and record the world as it passes by. Simply perfect image. Excellent!

  2. I thought the way you worded these musings was striking, and often beautiful.

    ‘Suddenly it feels really out west.’

    ‘..it has a distinct roly-poly-ness, rather like a split-second capture of grassy waves.’

    I certainly didn’t know that about Nebraska and the sandhills. I would not have guessed Nebraska to have an intact wetlands.

    Maybe that’s a good secret to keep from the golf course people.

  3. Your bits and pieces are very well written. It’s a talent I don’t think many of us have.

    The dichotomy between:

    “Came upon the first of many cattle feedlots as we approach the Colorado border. Gross. Horrifying. How can this be tolerated?”

    And

    ““I’m hungry. What I’d really like is a toasted pimento cheese sandwich. Craving a toasted pimento cheese sandwich. Really craving!”

    is very interesting.

  4. Robin – Interesting, huh? I didn’t even notice the one observation following the other. In real time, they were separated by a hundred miles. At least I wasn’t hungry for a burger!

  5. I’ve also made notes of my impressions as I traveled, especially my first trip into Arizona. They were very interesting to review many years later after I had gotten better acquainted with the area.

    I love that photo!

  6. Wonderful shot. The tree looks like a lone sentinel, stoic & watchful – waiting for the winter.

  7. This is a wonderful shot — nothing says “solitary” like a lone tree in such a beautiful landscape.

  8. lady.percy says:

    I love this picture. The framing is really great.

    Nice tidbits about Nebraska as well

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