Monday, July 19, 2010

Wanderers Anonymous

My name is Dave and I have wanderlust.

I inherited this compulsion from my father, the late Don Williams. He lived for the fever. It was unyielding.

He would throw a few things into a bag and hit the road alone with only a moment's notice to his wife. She learned to be okay with that. It was who he was. He needed to chase the horizon every few weeks or he would surely wilt and become a joyless, withered old man.

He would jump in his old Ford pickup and speed away from California as quickly as possible.

Achieving Nevada he slowed and began to breathe easy. Meandering across the desert in the good company of his own thoughts, he stopped occasionally to stretch, take a walk, kick a few rocks and get a cup of coffee and a sandwich. He chatted amiably with the waitress and the truck driver seated next to him at the counter. The three of them would inevitably find things in their lives, sometimes people, they had in common. If Dad whiled away most of an afternoon in idle conversation he'd find a motel room. A snort of scotch and a snootful of Louis L'Amour would soothe him to sleep for the night.

At the hint of dawn, he'd move on, eventually showing up unannounced on the doorstep of distant relatives in Utah. The visit might last an hour or two, sometimes a day or two.

Soon enough he would reunite with his heart, which still lived in his boyhood home in Rock Springs, Sweetwater County, Wyoming.

Sweetwater County, where the wind whips the jackrabbits mean.

Trout as big as a man's arm frolic in Green River until a Super Duper garnished with a savory red salmon egg invites one to fight its way into your creel.

Here's a little secret most wanderers don't know: when you travel through Wyoming the horses you see on the prairie are still wild. If you don't see a fence, that's because there ain't one.

I'm romancing the place. Frankly, if you've ever driven through that country you have probably driven through without noticing. I-80 is straight and fast. You go thataway, zipping past the offramps for Green River, Purple Sage, Rock Springs and Reliance. If you do it in a winter tableau of prairie white the freeway exits may actually be blocked with signs reading "Town Closed".

Keep moving, wanderer. Rawlins, Laramie and Cheyenne lie east, dead ahead. Pinedale and Aspen Hole -- I'm sorry, Jackson Hole (but never just, plain Jackson) -- are north on Highway 191.

The Tetons are always in sight. Salt Lake is a hop, skip and a sandwich stop away.

Move on when you're ready and not a moment sooner.

© 2010 by David L. Williams, all rights reserved

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