April 28th – Yesterday, while sitting at an overlook at Bryce Canyon…it hit us. We were saying ‘goodbye’. We had been in the Southwest since almost the beginning of our trip 7 1/2 weeks ago. First, Chandler, AZ and visiting with Sarah and Jason. Then, the hike down to Supai. Next, the Grand Canyon and visiting with Joann, with Sarah and Jason visiting for Easter. Then, the Grand Canyon hike. Then, on to Zion and Escalante (and a chance meeting up with Joann, again). This is the longest that we had ever visited in one geographic area, and we were getting ready to head on down the road on Sunday.
We had come to appreciate the Southwest, in all its variations. We had been hot, cold and in between. We saw desert, mountains, canyons, waterfalls and hoodoos. We had been snowed on and rained on and blown by the wind, but, for the most part, our luck with the weather had been pretty good.
I felt very satisfied with our visit. No – we did not do everything…..but we are coming to peace with the knowledge that we could not possibly do and experience everything. It is enough to sample an area……knowing that one may not really understand an area even if one lived there for years.
So why the melancholy that I feel……….?
We had a lovely dinner at Joann’s campsite this evening. It has been fun knowing that she was just 1/2 mile down the road from us and fun sharing some wonderful experiences. But, more importantly, it was a touch of home…..and saying goodbye feels wrenching. And I suddenly feel very far away, knowing that we are heading farther away……..west to California, then all the way up to Alaska.
Leaving the Southwest also means leaving that feeling that we are just a short (or longer) day’s drive from Sarah. We had said our goodbyes with Sarah a couple of weeks earlier…..all of us trying not to fall apart (at least not until we were in the car). But this leaving, somehow, seems more definite. I know that we all can stay in touch……so much more, now, with cell phones and internet……but Fred and I really miss that easy day-to-day contact with the kids……
The saving grace…..we are heading west to California. In a short week and a half, we will be visiting with Laura and Dave in Oakland…….seeing their apartment, celebrating a graduation, and immersing ourselves in catching up and visiting.
These emotions are tricky things…..I can be present ‘in the moment’ ….then all caught up in planning the next part of our trip. I can look back and reminisce…...and look forward, both with eager anticipation and with a bit of anxiety. I can feel sad and homesick…..even while looking forward to the adventures ahead of us. I can feel far away from family….while still feeling ‘in touch’……and I can dearly miss my kids, even just after a visit with one and anticipating a visit with another…..and wishing that we could share these adventures with all of them.
These conflicting emotions are just a part of this journey (and a part of me, most of the time, anyway)……