In early spring of 2007 I decided to quit my job, sell my house along with nearly everything else that I owned, and to live out of my car while traveling the country. These are my stories (and pictures) of life on the road.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

A real Blow Hard

Even though I never forgot my least favorite thing about Iowa the whole time I was traveling for some reason I was still surprised by it when I got back.

What is it you ask?

The Wind

Every since I was a kid it's been the bane of my existence. When I wanted to play baseball/football/basketball it was always there to take some of the fun away; and don't even get me started on how it ruined many a potential fishing expedition. Any time I plan something to do outside the first step in the morning is usually checking the weather report so see what the wind will be doing since it has such a large effect on what I do.

Want to go kayaking or fishing? Better see what direction the wind is coming from so you can choose a protected lake/shoreline so you're not battling 3o mph winds and white caps.

Want to go hiking? Better see how hard the wind is blowing because it's not much fun on the open prairie when all you can hear is the roar of the wind in your ears.

I must have gotten spoiled while traveling around this summer because, while there was the odd windy day, everyplace I went had calm winds for the most part; it was fantastic! I always appreciated it though, always remembered that it wasn't like that in Iowa. So why did I seem to be taken by surprise when I came back home and found that everyday is windy?

I guess in my mind I remember the best things about fall; and one of those is the late fall days we get now and then. The leaves have fallen off all the trees and are crunchy under foot. There's a crispness in the air, the sun is shining, the sky is a deep rich blue, the air is clearer then you can imagine, and there's not a breath of wind. Those are my favorite days of the year. Even though the temperature may only be in the 40's it still feels nice and warm in the sun and the lakes take on a glassy look you very rarely see around here. They're made all the more special because you know that it's entirely possible that within a day or two there could be snow on the ground and a day like that won't return for another year.

Unfortunately we haven't had one of those days since I've been back; but I'm still waiting and still hoping. Sometimes the wind gets me down and keeps me from going out and enjoying the freakishly warm weather for this time of year; but other times I take the affront personally and vow not to let my foe keep me locked in doors. I drag out my wind block hat and jacket and go face the brunt of it.

The other day was such a day. I didn't really know where I was going when I left town, I just started walking from the house. I wasn't too far north of town when I decided to hop on the railroad tracks. I always like walking the tracks, it gives you a different perspective of things you've seen a thousand times and it brings back memories of the hundreds of miles I walked on the tracks as a kid.

Anyone who's walked along railroad tracks has played the game of seeing how long you can walk on a rail before falling off. I've never been all that great at it and with my knee still in a tender condition I wasn't about to try my luck that day. But as I was walking I noticed that people don't seem to be the only ones who get pleasure from walking the rail; in the dust were the foot prints of a possum dawdling it's way down the rail. He seemed to have pretty good success too.

It turned out to be a nice walk, despite the wind. I scared up a couple deer and even a coyote. On the other side of a small ravine from me I could see some cattle in their pasture. It was tough to see them through the thick trees but a couple of them saw me walking down the tracks as well. While cattle usually seem to be content by staring at a passersby with an unconcerned stare these cattle started to get restless by my presence. The few that actually saw me started to get a little jittery and this spread to the rest of the heard. Soon mass hysteria had broken out and after walking just a little farther down the tracks and past the ravine the whole herd came tearing out of their pasture headed for home with panic in their eyes. I always find the site of running cattle entertaining so I enjoyed the little spectacle.

After a couple miles on the tracks I turned around and followed them all the way back in through town, which brought me over the old trestle that crosses the river running through town. It was always off limits growing up and only the bad kids would walk across it. I guess now I am one of those bad kids because I didn't think twice about using the shortcut and admiring the view from the top.

And now this morning starts a new day. Looking out the window I see the one tree left that's still clinging to most of it's yellow and now browning leaves. The sky is blue, sun is shining and the leaves in the tree look pretty calm. Maybe this will be the day.

Or maybe not, I just checked the weather and winds today are supposed to be 15-25mph. Starting tonight and all through tomorrow they're supposed to increase to 25-35 with gusts over 40 mph. Looks like I better get my hike in early today. I think if I go to Ft. Defiance I can use the woods and ravine to mostly stay out of it.....


Roy G. said...

Glad to see you had your Rawhide moment, the urge to hop on a horse and run them done must of been overwhelming.(-:

Roy G. said...

Hi Alan, Saw this Poem in the paper today and thought of you.

The Crossing

The snail at the edge of the road inch's forward, a trim gray finger of a fellow in a pinstripe suit.

He's burdened by his house that has to follow where he goes. Every inch he pulls together all he is, all he owns, all he was given.

The road is wide but he is called by something that knows him on the other side.

At first it struck me as applying to you as when you travel you carry with you all you own, all you have been given.

In the forward though Ted Kooser U.S. poet laureate 2004-2006 has this to say.

What motivates us to keep moving forward through our lives despite all the effort required to do so, here North Carolina poet Ruth Moore attributes human characteristics to a animal to speculate upon what that force might be.

I will set the clipping aside for you.

You've reached the end of the page but that's not the end of the stories. If you want to read more (and who wouldn't!?) then click on the archive links to the right hand side of the page. They're listed by month; the adventure starts in May.

The February archives aren't actually from this trip but are previous adventures I've had, which are worth reading as well.