Making Peace with the Box

My lovely wife posted a few days ago about our daughter’s struggle against living in a box.  It was articulate and heartfelt.  But as for myself, I couldn’t fight my way out of a paper bag let alone a box.  From the cradle box we are put in at birth to that box that goes underground at death, it is a box we call home.  And in-between those milestones we take shelter in-house shaped boxes, see all events unfold within the limited frame of our box window, and mostly travel in wheeled boxes.  A few of us think we work outside the box, but I would argue that even park rangers play and work in a box (an open-ended 1000s of acres size one with lots of wild animals one, but still a box). 

For me then travel is making peace with my box.  If I am never to be rid of my box (and to be honest, freedom is often just another word for being irresponsible), the least I can do is take it out for a spin.  We choose to live as much of our lives as possible in motion not to escape life, but to live it more fully.

So off we go on our 14th summer road trip; maybe for just a few weeks, but likely more than a month.  Over this time the mortgage still has to be paid, dogs walked and fed (and for this we thank our very large, former Marine cousin George for watching our house while we are away), and laundry cleaned.  As much as we like to go out for a good meal, hell for us would be trying to find a good meal three times a day.  So we bring a stove, a cooler, and utensils.  Sometimes we eat grand (we have steamed lobsters before), but more times it is a spaghetti and a can of vegetables.  A perfect night is one of tacos, a KOA swimming pool, and a nice fire toasted by a wine pricier than the lodging.

In past trips there has also been homework done (usually done on the interstate with Henna passing it to the front seat for us to go over) and lessons learned.  I would like to say the lessons are the type only gleaned in far off places, but often they are more generic like “don’t give a two-year old a watermelon without expecting a mess.”   

So where are we off to this summer?  Well, no one has ever accused us of over planning, but this summer we hope to do even less than usual.  If it is an itinerary you are looking for you are going to have to look elsewhere.   Instead I offer you possibilities: the Pine Ridge area of Nebraska, Rocky Mountain National Park, Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Mesa Verde, Sequoia National Park, Yosemite, central coast of California, up the spine of Idaho, and select parts of Montana.  I doubt we will see all that.  As with every trip, I hope we see many a place not heard of until the moment arrived.   And as always we welcome you along.

Why I Like the Cowboy Junkies

Neither cowboy nor junkie (I hope), the Cowboy Junkies have been making and delivering music for almost three decades.  I never really knew the band until last night, but I have always loved their name.  Cowboy Junkies.  Are they junkies for cowboys?  I think instead they are junkies for being a cowboy.  Many years ago Corey and I were driving our 1998 2 door Jeep Cherokee north into Nova Scotia with the sky darkening ahead and a sunset out the driver’s side window and I thought of us as cowboys (on a steel horse we ride- apologies to Bon Jovi).   To cowboy, for us, is to put a little art in the wander. After seeing them last night (and writing it up for Splash), I now like them for their music.  They’re good.  Not great, but better than many.  And they are more than capable of haunting every inch of venue with their delightfully gloomy sound.

Before seeing them last night I stumbled unto their website.  A prominent part of their site is their “tour diary” and it felt a lot like this blog in that you could never be quiet sure who was writing what, not everything was flattery, and it talked a lot about being on the road.  They talked up watching hockey in bars and on their tour bus, complained about dressing rooms and a lack of respect given, and were appreciative of being allowed to use washing machines and dryers in Omaha.  In concert last night they sighed at the thought of doing back to back shows (I saw their first gig at 7 and they were on again at 10) and applauded not only the audience, but the good parking at the venue.  The miles beneath their feet were evident in Margo Timmins deliberate pacing on stage as well in the stories she hinted at (which I knew more about after reading their blog but still much less than the whole story).  She also apologized for playing the new stuff first before going deeper into the catalog (“well, we hope to sell more music” is what I think she said).  The band played well, but they looked less than fresh.

And isn’t that what travel is?  The best of the best in travel writing, Paul Theroux, gives us long waits in third world government offices, battles with gout, and the bumps in a long bus ride to a desolate border crossing where he will wait some more.  All of it makes the sunrise over water or the honest conversation with a rickshaw driver more special for being real.  Travel is often nothing more than tedium interrupted by moments of illumination.  I love the Cowboy Junkies (and like their music) because they are honest travelers not above a complaint or two.  Driving across a foreign country (even one as lovely as ours) is tiring.  At the end of a long tour it would suck to do back to back concerts (they played last night, by the way, for almost 2 hours without break leaving them just an hour before the next concert).  I feel the miles on our trips and we do it for fun; them they do it for….   I don’t know.  But they did it (and did it well).  God bless the Cowboy Junkies.

If you want to check out the related article click here:  Here also is their website complete with Tour Diary: