When I moved to California from Toronto 16 years ago and met my (now) husband, we bonded over road trips in his old Bronco to the desert, the mountains and the Pacific Northwest forests and coasts. I was bowled over by the landscapes and fell in love with wide open spaces.
It was Death Valley that stunned me into silence, however. When we first arrived after an almost half-day drive from the San Francisco Bay Area, it was already twilight and the stars were coming out. We set up camp and I think I barely spoke a word for the rest of the evening. I couldn't believe how silent it was and yet how the stars vibrated and sang. It still defies description for me. We returned many times, sometimes alone and sometimes with friends and the magic never faded.
We recently made the trip again after many years, this time with our eight year old daughter. We silently hoped she would feel the same magic as we had, but braced ourselves for the fact that she might be bored and wonder why we'd dragged her all the way there. My husband sometimes talks about how I go "feral" in the wilderness - going silent as the silence and space take over and letting my spirit become awestruck. Although our trip was brief this time, we saw the same thing happen for our daughter. At twilight we stopped by the side of the road and she took off like a bird into the dusk, stopping to collect rocks and sticks and build sculptures with no need of any interaction from us.
Skiingrn1's amazing photo from somewhere between Idaho and Nevada reminds me of those long ago road trips to the desert, with mix-tapes on the car stereo as a soundtrack to the views passing by. The title of this post is taken from Big Sky Country by Chris Whitley, always included on any road trip mix-tape.
The Wide Open Road by Skiingrn1