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Sunday, August 1, 2010

Why I love to travel (Part 1)

by Mark This will be hard to explain. I experienced something riding through western Montana a few days ago that I want to share. We had left Katie's grandparents' house an hour earlier, and I was feeling a bit sad. Hank and Catherine Menghini reminded me of my father's parents, who are both gone now. Both families were farmers. Despite working the land in different areas of the country, they shared a common lifestyle that comes from years watching the sky for rain. Both families lived through what most of us (now) would consider poverty, and both have cultivated an unwavering faith that God would take care of them. Right down to the kitchen knife, sharpened well beyond what anyone in my generation would consider ruined, I was inspired by the work, sacrifice, and dedication to family life that they probably never questioned. In his shop, Hank helped me replace a broken spoke on Katie's motorcycle. I got the sense from his suggestions (of how I could do it better), that Hank could probably fix anything. The stories from his children prove it, and I felt proud that my wife was raised by a man who grew up (working) on this farm. Wil's spirit had found us once again. Back to the road. I'm viewing all this Montana farmland with quickly ripening barley and wheat, and felt like my heart was breaking open. I've been thinking about how to say this, and those are the words. Opening. Breaking. Not really a destruction, but the making of space...for the bigness of the world around me. For the families living in the houses I was riding past. For the Chinese kids working in the factory that made my shirt. For the powerful awareness of my smallness... and it hurt like love. Like rehab, where a muscle sends pain messages not because it is damaged, but because it is coming back to life. And how is this attached to travelling? Because in the last 4,000 or so miles, we've reconnected with our families and dozens of friends, received gifts and hot showers and have been forbidden to pay for our own lunches. We've been given money by an 11 year old, been inspired to be parents again, and generally taken way more than we've given. We've been beaten by the sun and (cross) winds of desolate Wyoming, to stop at a gas station where total strangers stop to congratulate us on getting married (they see the sign). We get waves and happy honks and thumbs-ups from people as they pass us on the road. So the day I'm writing about, it came together, and I felt the energy of a big American West that isn't so big. Neighbors and barbeques and front porches of people who are better than your average newscast would lead you to believe. Despite this experience only being detectible by myself, I'll try to convey with some photos:


  1. i love it. i love the big openess.

  2. Great post guys! Way to be present in the journey and not just longing for the destination.

  3. This last post was beautifully expressed. My husband would join your journey in a heartbeat.