Thursday, July 30, 2009

GMVW # 82: "Respite from the Merry Go Round"

Gem Music Video of the Week # 82:  Respite from the Merry Go Round
Song:  The Way by Fastball
(Songwriter: Tony Scalzo)
July 30, 2009

For the past 3 weeks, the family and I have been living the nomadic life style, traveling across and around the USA.  Most of our destinations included one-night stays at campgrounds and the occasional motel. We found our way through 30 States, 10 National Parks, 8 mountain ranges, and 7 capitals.  We’ve stood in 4 States at one time and crossed borders demarcating historic boundaries such as the Louisiana and Oregon Territories. Along the way we’ve seen bison and bears, canyons and mesas, caves and arches, rivers and waterfalls, prairies and mountain peaks, hot and cold springs, sand dunes and bottomless pits, cactus and blue grass, cowboys and Indians, cities and ranches, bridges and tunnels, cattle and corn, elk, antelope, lizards, and dinosaur fossils. 

We’ve driven over the continental divide.  On the Atlantic side of the divide, we crossed the mighty Mississippi River and many of its major tributaries, including the Missouri, Arkansas, and Tennessee.  On the Pacific side of the divide we crossed over the Snake and Colorado Rivers.  We also crossed over the Connecticut, Hudson, Allegheny, Susquehanna, Potomac, White, and Red Rivers and driven along the shores of 3 Great Lakes.

I found myself reflecting often on other cross-country travelers: The Gilligan’s, Smith’s (Jim & Ellen’s family) Johnson’s (Phil), and John Roche (post-college with his friend, Roger).

We’ve eaten at cafes, diners, picnic areas, campgrounds, rest stops, and out of our back packs. We’ve learned more about characters like Buffalo Bill, Lewis and Clark, Elvis Presley, Teddy Roosevelt, Stonewall Jackson, Crazy Horse, Sacagawea, Daniel Boone, Laura Ingles, Geronimo, and Jesse James.  We’ve investigated historic events, including Custer’s Last Stand, Pickett’s Charge, The Chicago Fire, and the War of 1812.  We’ve met Nez Perce, Mormons, Navajos, Bible Belters, latter-day hippies, truckers, bikers, Shoshone, rednecks, rangers, hikers, fishermen, Lakota, dreamers, schemers, and, of course, fellow travelers.  We’ve seen every license plate but Hawaii and Delaware (go figure).  We have heard many an accent; several that would have benefited from an interpreter.

We drove 5103 miles.

We’ve seen the effects of ancient calderas (super volcanoes), ice ages, earthquakes and inland seas, along with more recent natural and unnatural events such as forest fire, invasive infestations, drought, urban sprawl and climate change.  We’ve driven through industrial wastelands founded on fossil fuel extraction from the earth, along with the promise of the future in large expanses of modern wind farms and solar panels.

We followed for stretches along the Mason-Dixon Line, the Oregon Trail, Route 66, the Appalachian Trail, Sleepy Hollow, and the Trail of Tears.  Traveling folk like Jack Kerouac, Woody Guthrie, the Traveling Wilburys and Easy Riders were a source of inspiration at times.  Music was a constant companion in the car.  We lost track of the daily news.

We tried to grasp the meaning of State mottos such as ‘Show Me’, “Hawkeye’, ‘Hoosier’, ‘Lone Star’, ‘Bee Hive’, ‘Volunteer’, ‘Blue Grass’, ‘Equality’, ‘Gem’, ‘Natural’, ‘Badger’, ‘Lincoln’, and ‘The Land of Enchantment’ (actually, that one was easy). 

We visited such diverse and grand places as Cody WY, Durango CO, Luverne MN, Madison WI, Chicago IL, Santa Fe NM, Hill City SD, Thermopolis WY, Moab UT, Lexington KY, and Gettysburg PA.  We also stopped at the well advertised Wall Drug.

With all the setting and breaking down of camp, along with the enhanced fatherly duties that come with a life on the road, it was hard to find solitude and inspirational moments to write the themes to these gem videos over the past 3 weeks.  I probably should have taken a break.  The consolation, however, was seeing and hearing all that Charlotte and Peter were taking in.  Their scrap books are truly amazing to read through.  I will have little to add if I ever get around to documenting the trip myself.

As mentioned at the beginning of this email, Nancy, Charlotte, Peter, and I indeed lived a gypsy-like existence these past 3 weeks.  This brought me back to the state-of-mind I was in for several other ventures over my lifetime: The state-of-mind of leaving it all behind, even if for just a short time. Gem Video of the Week ‘The Way’ by Fastball is a fictional story of a couple that took this abandonment to the extreme. 

Removing oneself from the day-to-day grind can be eye-opening.  I’m not sure it will pan out this time around.  I need some time to rest first. 

It’s still a helluva country out there. In some places, majestic would be the appropriate term (particularly Yellowstone). It's good to be home, though.

- Pete

Gem Video of the Week, ‘The Way’

About the Video: Made for MTV-type video

Video Rating: 1

Best Feedback: John

Sounds like an AWESOME trip!

When I drove across the USA for 4 weeks, we only had one tape casette, and it was broken, so we could only listen to one song, and we listened to it the whole way.  I can't seem to remember the name of that song.....

And Tom:

Hi Pete

All I can say is Wow - what an awesome, most memorable trip you guys did!  We were down on the Chesapeake this weekend, and wouldn't you know that I brought along the latest National Geographic - about the Yellowstone supervolcano no less ... going back into the fascinating history of its discovery (and really, realization) and of how it's very much still active, with the lakes bed even tilting more and more toward the southwest every year.  There's also a write-up in there about the ever-sinking Venice, due to the rising tides (and coincidentally did the Wash Post have an article showing much of southern Manhattan under water in a hundred years ... leaving me to ask why bother rebuilding ground zero).  So glad you guys came back safely and full of great stories to tell - and those are thrills irreplaceable for Charlotte and Pete, that they'll get to now tell their grandkids about some day too.

Cuz Tom  

And Jeff:

Hi Pete, thanks for the nice recap of your trip.  Sounds lke the kids heads could be so dilled up they are ready to burst, but I guess kids heads are made to handle that.

And Jen:

Hi Pete,
Your nice message gave me yet another reason to write you. Thanks for your sentiments. Phil (Henault) was a great guy, and has a great famiy. He sure will be missed.
About your last gems....I really enjoyed them, and how they worked into your trip. The trip sounds fabulous.
About Charlotte's notes, postcards....they were excellent. I could read enthusiasm and joy, in them. And I love her goofy comments to Joe and Grace.
About your monkey postcard to me - it was fantastic.
We're heading to Falmouth tomorrow, to hang with mum and dad for a few days. Looking forward to the break.
xo Jen

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