Road Trip: letting go

That last road trip was not really as much for pleasure as business – we had to get our kid loaded into his dorm room. 

We woke up in the motel the next day, here’s what we encountered in the parking lot.

This column of smoke is headed straight out of Yosemite National Forest, where there were 12 fires burning.

This column of smoke is headed straight out of Yosemite National Forest, where there were 12 fires burning.

But, I’ll be damned if I’m going to drive that far and not do something relaxing. Visiting one of the state’s most active volcanic areas, we always search out a good hot spring. 

I've brought you here before  - this tub is just a few miles off Hwy 395, on BLM land.

I’ve brought you here before – this tub is just a few miles off Hwy 395, on BLM land. It is actually maintained fairly regularly by federal maintenance workers.

We didn’t have much time so we checked an easy spot we’d already been before.  There are springs all over this area, but this tub is all cemented and has a neat little pipe running hot water straight out of the ground. So, it’s pretty popular, sometimes people camp right on it, which is bad form. We were lucky this time, there were several campers, but they had left this spot open.

The surroundings are spectacular, if muddled a little in smoke. There were 12 fires burning in Yosemite when we drove down.

The surroundings are spectacular, if muddled a little in smoke. 

We were lucky to find the sage in bloom - the desert is an incredibly beautiful place.

We were lucky to find the sage in bloom – the desert is an incredibly beautiful place.

It was quiet except for the peeping of a little batch of killdeers. Killdeers are the little birds that nest on the ground, and if you come too close to their nest, they pretend to have a broken wing, to draw you away from their eggs. I’ve never seen so many at one time – they were enjoying a warm puddle, splashing and running through the water. 

Then a pack of young cattle, supervised by a very old, dirty Brahma bull,  appeared over the rise. They acted excited about the water running across the road. I was almost afraid they’d try to get in the tub with us.

This white faced cow seemed curious as to what we were doing.

This white faced cow seemed curious as to what we were doing.

It was a sad time, I hate being an empty nester. All the while I tried not to think about why we were there, why our kids weren’t in the car. My husband seems excited to get on with our business, but he was distracted too. We’ve spent the summer doing projects with the kids, so now the quiet seems to be closing in. At every meal the last few weeks, we silently wondered, “is this the last time we’ll be together as a family?” 

I remember a passage from my Aunt Belle’s memoirs, in which she described the last time her mother and all her aunts were in the same room together. She was about five years old, and the somber scene made a deep impression. The seven women joined hands and made a circle around their mother, who wept.  After that my family drifted, with some members heading south and others heading north, some east to Nevada. There were no telephones, cars were an oddity, computer e-mail was not even imagined. Cousins wandered off and got lost. 

I always worry about my sons sticking together, being brothers forever, depending on and being dependable. I know they’re just kids still, and I know they love each other, but years go by, miles on miles, and people become strangers to each other. Leaving my son in the parking lot outside his dorm room, I felt a panic I have not felt since I watched the mortuary attendant load my mother’s old bones into an ambulance. When my son reached to me for a hug, I wanted to sink my claws into him and hold him like my own breath, but I forced my arms back down to my sides. I noticed his face was taut and white too, so I managed to squeeze my eyes to keep the tear drops from falling, at least until we could get in the car and turn away. 

As we drove along the highway out of town, I realized, Good Bye is hard, but the world opens up to you like a new day, and you can’t help but look forward to the next adventure. 

When we got home, we got pictures from both our kids. They text us silly messages.  I like the new technology, I’ll have to learn to text (stop laughing!) and send pictures with my phone. Sure, that’s better than dealing with long distance calls, like our ancestors had to do. Remember those $300 phone bills? Now there’s no excuse not to pick up a phone, send some photos, yak yak yak. 

It’s a whole new adventure.

 

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