Thursday, July 17, 2014

My Earliest Travel Memories

So, I’m not always great at being able to think up a blog when I need to. In truth, I’m a terrible blogger. I feel like I have too much else going on in my life to devote my energy to a blog. Probably why I have like three failed blogs floating around in cyberspace.
Anyway, the point of that is while I was trying to run through the Rolodex of travel stories in my brain, I came upon this one. It is one of the most simple, yet one of the most pure, and probably something that instilled the love of travel in me from an early age.
I’m not entirely sure how old I was the last time my mom, grandma, and I went to see my uncle in the Mojave desert. I think I was around 10. I was an eccentric fourth-grader, and the annual summer trip to California to see my many uncles was something that had been a staple in my life, so it really didn’t feel all that special at the time. It was a given. It was something that was going to last forever.
My one–and favorite–uncle lived in the middle of the Mojave desert, and was the foreman of the alfalfa ranch that was being cultivated there. It was kinda odd, thinking back, because there were miles and miles of nothingness, aside from the lumpy, hilly highway my grandma gunned it over in her 1971 Chevy Caprice in order to make a normal road seem like a roller coaster to a young child, but then…there was my uncle’s house, and fields of alfalfa that seemed magnificent to a young mind. I always felt like I had gone to a different land when I was there.
I have many memories of our yearly trips there, but I was small, and the memories are patchy, but that last year stands out to me. Probably because I was older, but also because it was the last time I ever saw my favorite great-uncle.
I remember I swept the porch almost obsessively because I was thinking up stories in my head. I remember my uncle swatting flies until I thought he must have killed the entire fly population only to have ten more miraculously end up in the house. I remember Jake the dog, and Radar the dog with his weird tail, and how my mom thought he was gonna eat us. I remember my uncle trying to teach my grandma to shoot a hand gun and me (being completely oblivious because I was ten) running from a horsefly right into the line of fire. I didn’t think it was a big deal, but I got a tongue lashing. As an adult, I realize it was a HUGE DEAL. I remember waking up to the bizarre sound of the hay bailer. I remember roasting to death, sitting in front of the swamp cooler, and watching Ray Stevens videos. I remember my uncle making tri-tip on the BBQ.
I remember innocence and wonder, and a hundred different things I will never get back.
It was the last time I saw my Uncle Stan. He passed away before I was ever able to go back. Time and life got in the way of our annual trip. People get older, circumstances change, and things that once were become no more.
But my heart is still there, sweeping that porch, because my head is STILL filled with those stories.
And I am happy I could share this one with you today.