After our trip west to see the country, we are home. After 4788 miles, 18 days, 10 states, 15 nights in 11 hotels, and uncountable memories, we are home.
Even though we know travel to be a great educator, Jim and I are home bodies. We love to get out and explore our world, but we typically make short trips of a few days’ duration. This time, we were combining a photography class Jim was taking with friends with a chance to see the southwestern US by car.
So off we went, visiting some friends along the way, and seeing the landscape. Our route to Arizona was along I-10 heading west and I-40 coming back. Every day, we ventured off those interstates and saw some of the country from back roads. Priceless sights included rice fields in Louisiana, bluebonnets and poppies in Texas, numerous new species of birds, new species of trees, jackrabbits, tumbleweeds, shadows on adobe walls, and natural wonders like White Sands and the Grand Canyon.
There were many opportunities to do some people watching, and people listening. There were lots of photos taken, Jim focusing on birds for his class, and on traditional landscapes. I did some of the same and added to my album of street photographs – of people unaware.
We drove through the Texas Hill Country during bluebonnet season and visited the McDonald Observatory. We toured the Desert Museum in Tucson, saw vast skies in daytime and at night, even saw a falling star over the Grand Canyon. We saw snow-capped mountains, purple mountain majesties, lots of trains and windmills. We drove sections of the old route 66.
Names of roads and towns fascinated us. Sundust Road, Wild Horse Pass, Dead Man Wash, Bloody Bases Road, Horsethief Basin; Checotah, Henryetta, and Lotawatah Road, Oklahoma. Wilderado, Muldrow, Porum, and Parkin. And, back in Georgia, another new one: Hog Liver Road.
Unplanned stops at local parks, a farmers’ market, and antique stores gave us a glimpse into the lives of the people living in all these places. That’s what we wanted to
see – people living their everyday lives; not catering to tourists.
For many of the miles, we didn’t play music, just marveling at the scenery and talking about how the pioneers must have felt following the trail westward. At other times, we chose music of the area: Jimmy Buffett near Mobile, Al, Jackson Browne and the Eagles in Winslow, AZ, Gillian Welch and Kate Wolf in Arkansas.
Inspiration for colors and design were everywhere. The landscaping and decoration on the highway system in AZ is full of graphic designs which would easily translate to quilting. As I studied the abundant cacti, I envisioned stitching them using tailor’s tacks and french knots (or Jude Hill’s thread beads) to mimic their textures.