And the road goes on forever...

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Farther East I Go, the More My Western Shows 8/2

Take a good look at that introductory photo. It’s the biggest vista I’ve seen since dropping from the mountains of Laramie outside of Cheyenne, WY. So why is this a bother you ask? Well…I get nervous when I feel all hemmed in and believe me, with dewy mist-laden skies every morning until at least 10 a.m. making visibility two miles at best and then low-slung clouds like we had on the coast in Oregon the rest of the day, thick trees and rolling hills, the above vista is, what, maybe 15 miles? My mind yanks back to Yuma, where even on a dusty day I can see at least 40- 60 miles out across the desert. Let alone thinking about Central or eastern Oregon where the vista may be at minimum nearly 80 miles from a high vantage point.

The forests are thick here since entering eastern Kentucky and Tennessee. Everything is steep; we pass cities quickly by on the freeway and don’t even glimpse a town for God’s sake—it’s all hidden! We see the signs and no notation of any habitation save for a few McDonalds and gas stations. Don’t tell me all these people live in the deep, dark woods? How could they stand to do that? What must that be like when it does nothing but storm and rain the way it must here because everything is so green?

It bothers me a little that people are raised in this and think nothing of it. Some never know or have the experience of the wide open empty west—where your mind, thoughts and feelings aren’t closed in by a line of sight of mere hundreds of yards. We passed by the sign for Pigeon Forge and Dollywood today and I’ve heard her story about living in the “holler” and I could see some of what she was referring to. Does the closed in nature of those woods give a native the same comfort as the endless vistas of emptiness that the West provides me?

Kentucky has a great freeway system. So does Missouri and Indiana. They were overlaying and “repairing” a long section today already in such perfect shape it far outdoes our best highways in the west. So how come they get to spend federal dollars on improving a road which is pristine, while I-5 in CA, OR, and WA suffers some of the worse neglect in the federal highway system? Does it have anything to do with the fact that the freeways are more numerous than fleas on a dog's back here, running helter-skelter every which-way at each and every major exit it seems; whereas, in the far west, we have the backbone of I-5 intersected by I-84, I-80, I-10 and that’s about it? As Marc explained to me over the radio today as we drove, the federal dollars aren’t far from the roost here.

In actuality, we’ve been very impressed with the freeways all along our trip so far. The worst we have encountered are in CA, OR, WA, and AZ. This stuff east is like smooth sailing. And I’m sure I’ll get used to closed-in and lack of vistas. Or maybe not. Maybe my feet will be itching to get back west. We’ve been told our first assignment is to last about two months in Newport News so we’ll see.