Her Voice

Happy Mother’s Day.

A couple of years ago, I took a work trip that brought me back to the west coast. I decided it would be a good time to catch up with my mom doing one of the things I absolutely love, visiting a national park. She met me at our car rental, we fueled up and headed off to Joshua Tree. It was the middle of July so triple-digit temperatures were expected. The nights were not much cooler. To me, I booked a unique “off the grid” rental and did not consider my mom’s thoughts on showering outside. We spent the car ride catching up. Me complaining about the things I’m not satisfied with, while simultaneously bragging about the things I am proud to be part of. She caught me up on the happenings at home. Lots of deep conversation coupled with hilarious anecdotes and small talk, “so how’s the weather been?” And of course her Del Taco experience. Simply put, it was nice.

After arriving, very late, to our rental we unloaded the car and both took wonder at the sparkling night sky. Once we got the AC working and mom discovered the shower was outside (oops) we sat in the living room talking. I was beyond tired barely coherent but I do remember her neat trick about how to catch pesky bugs inside (a lamp and a bowl of water – it worked). I can’t and never will forget one of the best things of all, her obsession with trying to capture on video the bats flying around outside. As I tirelessly mumbled away about my new job, she sat in a chair at the big picture window tablet in hand bifocals positioned just right, snapping away. I fell asleep to the sound of her on the job wildlife photography training and woke the next morning to her excitement that somewhere in the 200 plus photos and videos of the small fruit and bug-eating bats she “got one”.

I kid you not, I sat through her rifling through an endless digital archive of reflections of her self off the big picture window, “Oh I figured out, turn the light off, yeah.” Then more photos of the flash off the big picture window, “oh yeah forget to turn that off.” Then finally photo 200 whatever, “here watch this. I’m going to go get ready.”

A 5-minute video until I finally saw a light-colored flint across the screen and moms voice say, “GOTCHA!”

“Ohhh that’s what you took 200 plus photos for!” I said.

It makes me laugh, it made my sister laugh as she drove my mom home after the trip and was subjected to the same show and tell presentation. I am sure it made my bother think, “where the hell were you staying?”

While I love our national parks and love spending time with my mom, what I didn’t at all expect to take from this trip, was to miss her. It was a truly strange feeling for me and not because my heart is made of ice. I missed her for the first time in a very long time because I knew things I had going for me 3000 miles away were going to keep me away for a long time. I actually still don’t know exactly why. It may be easy for some to reckon with but for me it’s different. My mom raised her children to feel secure in their decisions to never let place hold them back, to never let anything or anyone, especially ourselves hold us back from the goals we’ve set. She has always and always will be our support system. It what moms do, it’s what parents do. It’s what people that work hard to see something through do.

I don’t think, actually I know, I did not fully appreciate this until I only had a few stifling hot days and bat photo nights with her in the desert.

Today as I still work on figuring myself out. Figuring out what keeps me going, what gets me down, and how I will reach my new goals, I can pick up the phone and get to know my mom a little better. I can get to know the person that was also a kid dreaming of other places in the world. An artistic person with so much love to give. I can listen to the voice that once told me I could move mountains and chuckle at the amateur bat photographer voice that says, “GOTCHA!”

The importance of listening to Her voice has taken me farther than I could have imagined. Over this last year, built up over a lifetime of wins and losses, I’ve learned from the first voice I heard in my life the importance of listening to her. Of trusting that voice.

Thanks for being a mom. Thank you for being my mom!

Love you.

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©CLKeahi | Mom at Joshua Tree National Park

 

 

One-way Epic Road Trip

Hitting the Road

Bags, upon bags, upon bags were packed. Plastic tubs filled and taped shut. Every inch of room in the truck was stuffed and the trailer was full. While water and caffeinated beverages filled all available cupholders, one hand was on the wheel the other was stuffing my face with all natural jerky. We headed one-way toward the east coast with plans to stop in: Burns Oregon, Las Vegas Nevada, Grand Canyon National Park, Albequercy New Mexico, and Charleston SC.

Yes, you read that correctly. We spent a night in Albequercy then hauled ass to Charleston. By hauling ass I have to say we had a top speed of 55 miles per hour. We took to switching drivers ever 2-4 hours and drove through terrifying epic downpours in Arkansas. It’s the road trip that rivals all road trips for us. I’ve tried and failed in my attempts to add up the number of miles we’ve driven over various road trips. Let’s just say it’s an ass-ton (keeping a theme going here). This one wasn’t the most scenic at times. We spent the second half of the trip on interstates. Smelling cow pies before we could even see the cows. Navigated our fair share of poorly placed construction cones, detours and one eager Texas Trooper that took a 5-minute interest in our trucks temporary tags. Why was this “the most epic”? Because it’s the mode of travel we chose to move across the United States.

©CLKeahi | Moving out of town with one last look at Mt. Hood.

Rurality

Rural southwestern Oregon is a true wild west. It can feel as if time has stood entirely still. An entire day can pass without ever encountering another soul. Harney County was the place on a map of Oregon where you were more likely to find a legend than a useful geographic fact. It’s not because Harney County isn’t special. Harney County doesn’t need a large city skyline to make it beautiful; it’s lit up by the night sky. It’s weathered and rough due to its natural geography, not its poor politics. This place wasn’t somewhere I frequented. Actually, it’s somewhere I had really never been until we planned this road trip. My husband spent most of his time in the area as a volunteer archaeologist just outside Burns. Every summer for about a week he would pack up and set out to the dig site. He purposely planned this part of the trip so he could show me where he stayed. I had a first-hand view of this place he spent one-week every year for four years.

It’s what he had always described. A high elevation plateau, sparsely vegetated, sagebrush-covered landscape. The night-life was meant for none human life. Naturally beautiful and barren. The secrets of what this place holds lie with its locals, outdoor enthusiast, and road trip junkies. Driving through, I caught quick glimpses of the dilapidated buildings dotting a harsh landscape. At it’s highest elevation just under 10,000 feet the Steens Mountains stood sharply. Jetting out of the earth they stood in the distance as a farewell reminder. Driving down Hwy 205, I watched the last bit of this landscape fade in the distance; the exit from Oregon was official.

No Stopping ’til Charleston

Exhausted doesn’t begin to describe what it feels like to sleep in Albuquerque New Mexico one night then sleep again (officially) in Charleston South Carolina. After doing the classic Route 66 and Grand Canyon stop offs we headed to Albuquerque. If we were to repeat one part of this trip it would certainly be the southwestern portion. Like another world, it was without a doubt absolutely beautiful. Probably the most beautiful part.

The trip through the dry red-rocked southwest was too fast, but we had an agenda to maintain. After spending three nights in three different states we just wanted to make it to the east coast. Our surroundings didn’t go unnoticed. Texas smelled more then we thought – at least along I-40. Oklahoma City was bigger than we imagined. Arkansas was greener and wilder then we would have ever known. If not for this road trip, despite how slow and fast in parts it may have been, I may have never seen these parts of the country. Seeing it from the point of view of a passerby or tourist is, of course, a much different perspective then settling down and getting to know a place. But for me, this opportunity to “see” other parts of this country was just that – an opportunity.

From the small towns we blinked through to the larger cities we sat in traffic with, it was an introduction to a different perspective. A precursor to living a bit different. Why epic? Because I gained (we gained) so much more. A move, a road trip, opportunities, and a different perspective. Having been on my fair share of road trips, none gave me as much insight into how to think bigger than the one that propelled me into a new place.