Last week Carolann and I enjoyed our first long road trip in several years. We drove from Dallas to West Yellowstone, Montana, and stayed off freeways except for one short stretch of I-80 across southern Wyoming. Otherwise we took back roads through the Heartland and I highly recommend it. It refreshes the spirit. You’ll meet wonderful people whose regional natures will amaze you, different as they are from one place to the next.
Texans and Oklahomans tend to be more gregarious than Kansans and Wyomingites, who are friendly but wary.
Coloradans are happy to meet you, happy to serve and happy to see you leave.
Taking days rather than hours to get from here to there renews your sense of awe in the sheer size of our country that travel by air destroys. You have to suffer through several hundred miles of sagebrush and alkali to appreciate it, if your attitude will allow.
And, there’s another advantage that you’ll learn to appreciate though it might drive you slightly crazy for the first day:
Nearly the entire distance is void of a usable data signal for smart phones and digital tablets. That, too, will soon be a thing of the past in the name of technical advancement.
For now though, in great chunks of the American West, Facebook will have to wait. Words With Friends becomes Words With Spouse.
With no option but to actually talk with each other Carolann and I had a wonderful time made even more enjoyable by the presence of our not quite 12 year-old grandson, Isaiah.
As we drove north from Dallas/Ft. Worth to Amarillo and on, across the desolate Texas and Oklahoma panhandles, our adventure took us through the town of Dumas, Texas. As we passed the city limit sign the boy read it aloud:
“DOO-mas,” he said.
“That’s not right,” I told him. “You’re mispronouncing it but it’s not your fault. The town used to have a ‘b’ in the middle of its name. It’s called ‘Dumbass,'” I said seriously.
Isaiah thought that was very funny. He giggled for a long time. We all did. Then, for the rest of the trip we called each other “DOO-mas” from time to time.
This is the stuff a kid remembers for his entire life. It’s what makes parenting and grandparenting especially rewarding. A quip and a laugh in an innocent moment is a moment enshrined for decades.
None of us will remember the frustrating times he fussed and pouted about having to take a bath or go to bed. And though we’ll always treasure the pictures of Isaiah and his Nana in front of Yellowstone Falls and of him holding a long fork with a flaming marshmallow for a campfire s’more burning out of control, it’s the shared laughs that fill our hearts for the rest of our lives.
No matter how old he and we get, Isaiah will now and always be the Dumas Kid and we will always love each other more for it.