(thoughts that played through my head on my recent trip up north, all pictures taken along Interstate 17 and Interstate 40 with my PalmPilot)
Every once in a while my job sees fit to yank me form my desk and throw me up into the wild reaches of Arizona to handle some business because we can't retain staff to do it.
I don't mind these long trips, because they give me time to think and reflect on a lot of things.
I-17 North from Phoenix
The American Journey isn't just one from point A to point B. It is a journey of understanding and figuring things out. How our views change over time and from location to location based on our experiences and what we have learned.
Sedona Near Flagstaff
I don't know a lot of conservatives that were not liberals at one point in their lives and vice versa. Folks that were conservative and now throw caution to the wind. Their journeys brought about these changes.
Cabin in the Sky
I chuckle at how much the youth of today can't wait to get off the 'farm' and make it to the big city where anything goes and they can party all they want. Only to find out that by the time they have grown up, had kids, taken out a second mortgage and fixed their car for the 18th time to commute to work, that what they REALLY want is to go back to that rural lifestyle that they longed to escape from so many years before.
These cars were once shiny and new, speeding down what was then Route 66 in a country that was affluent, run by caucasians, where Coke had real sugar and there was no HIV or Ebola. Those days, like these cars, are gone, transformed by the journey.
Yet, in their decay, there is a certain beauty to them. They undergo the slow transition back to the minerals from which they were forged. Like the delicate bones of some pre-historic creature momentarily exposed by the wind before being covered up again.
Once these silent sentinels pumped petrol for .29 cents a gallon. Now, in the shadow of the speeding semi-trucks that race by on Interstate 40, they stand as tombstones for the coming end of the petroleum age. More road markers on the journey.
In a way, the land is littered with the graveyards of our past. Those things that we held so dear (or were told to hold so dear) but have become obsolete because something new and better came along. But were they really better? Did we really 'need' them? Figuring that out is one of the purposes of the journey.
In the end, the journey teaches us that many of the dreams we had were not our own. We followed road signs that told of us great destinations, lands of milk and honey, with things that were newer, cheaper, better. But when we got there we found that in the long run none of it was true. The signs were not put up for our benefit, but for the benefit of others, to lead us to them.
Some say that we should make our own signs and leave trails to follow, and not follow in the footsteps of others. But the insecurity that is inherent in all our lives holds us back. The older we get, the more we lose that insecurity and the more we finally realize how important it is to blaze those trails, but often we also realize that we have lost the vigor of youth.
These are the thoughts that continually run through my head while taking these long journeys for my employer. A good use of the State's money, I must admit. In their never ending goal of finding new and inefficient ways of doing things with the taxpayers hard earned cash, they offer me the time and the distance to gage the journey and in so doing, show me just how far off course I am sometimes.
As I stopped at many of these old places along Interstate 40, I saw all those old days, those slower days. This highway parallels the old Route 66 and it is still visible in many sections. I walked some of it to take these pictures. The mother road had a lot to tell if you just stood still long enough and listened.
How many journeys? How many lives were changed by the wheels passing over this broken asphalt? A million miles, a million miles.
I hope the journey never ends; I have still have so much to learn.