Gary Gardner (grgardner) wrote,
Gary Gardner

On The Road Headed Home...err North.

It's a long road from the desert up to Seattle -- roughly 1200 miles. It's a road I've driven more than few times. For the last six or seven years I've always left Seattle at the holidays and headed South East towards Boise and then down to Salt Lake and then on to Palm Springs and the desert. Before I retired I'd return back up after New Years, and for the last three years I've spent the entire winter there after the holidays before heading back home in the Spring. I have some business in Portland and Seattle this week and so I figured I'd do the old holiday "loop" again, the long drive up California and into Oregon and Washington, but this time I'd be starting and ending in the desert rather than in the Northwest.

The most direct route from the desert, especially from the side of the Coachella Valley that I live in is to go North up into Yucca Valley, before turning Northwest towards Barstow and then across the Mojave desert and through the Tehachipi Mountains, down to Bakersfield and then up the Central Valley, on past Mt. Shasta and into Oregon.  There is a point shortly after Yucca Valley that the road takes a gradual turn and points itself Northwest. Whenever I left the desert in the years past this always was the point in the journey that it truly felt like I was headed "home".  My inner compass, the direction of the road, the light in the sky always said "homeward bound". This year, surprisingly, it didn't.
Oh I knew I was headed to the Northwest, but I wasn't headed "home". In years past this spot in the road was always both an exciting and bittersweet moment. The moment when I realized the vacation or the winter had ended and I was like a horse headed back to the barn. There was a bit of a sense of "urgency", in the drive or the ride back home.  I'd be sad to be leaving the sunshine and the friends of the desert, while at the same time, excited to be out on the open road, headed back to my home.

But this year it feels almost like a business trip. There isn't the sense of urgency, or the mixed emotions. Yes I'm looking forward to visiting friends for the holidays up in the Northwest, and I'm excited to see them after three months. But it's just a short visit -- a few days in Portland and then Seattle, before heading back to the Mountain West and my family. That too is "home" and always will be -- it's where I was born and raised and where I am compelled to go back like a salmon headed swims upstream to it's birthplace to spawn.

But I'm truly looking forward to returning to the desert in a few weeks. The desert is home now. I can feel it. And I'm sure there will be a spot in the road, likely somewhere south of Salt Lake City or more likely Provo -- I don't exactly know where yet -- that my inner compass and the direction of the road and the light and my head and heart will all tell me "you are homeward bound". I'm looking forward to finding that place.

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