Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Long And Winding Road

First off I want to thank Carl for all his work of the last three weeks. I really appreciate the fact he was willing to keep Enlightened Catholicism up and running while I was off and running. The nice thing for me was that his expertise and understanding of prayer filled a huge hole in my own inability to articulate a lot of how my talent seems to work. I found myself reading his posts and thinking "yea, that's it exactly. That's the nuts and bolts of how all this prayer thing works." So thanks again Carl. You've given words for what I couldn't articulate because I couldn't break it down. I sincerely hope you enjoyed writing for this as much as I enjoyed reading your efforts.

As to the last leg of the trip, it was loooong. We woke up in Rapid City to snow which only got worse the further west we went. By the time we hit Gillette, Wyoming I 90 was closed. At this point we got out the road atlas and opted to take an alternate route to Sheridan. Us and six other cars all started out having no clue what to expect, but also having no desire to wait an unspecified time in Gillette. What we found was 107 miles of decent pavement and no semi trucks. Thank God.

We made excellent time into Sheridan and from there on home---all but the last twenty miles which were a major test of my patience. I kept remembering this commercial from years ago which said most fatal traffic accidents happen in the last twenty five miles from home and I managed to stay safely behind the old motor home doing 45 miles an hour. Since visibility was nil, passing (no matter how badly I wanted to) would have been playing Russian Roulette. I arrived home seven minutes later than I originally estimated.

Then it was time to reacquaint with my two cats and pass out souvenirs. The crystals and the Wall Drug baseball cap were a big hit. I was the big hit for the cats. For the next two hours they followed me around like dogs, then when they were sure I was for real, they ignored me.

I had to stop at Wall drug. After 400 some miles of advertising I was thoroughly conditioned to stop. It was kind of worth it. Until you get past Wall Drug, Mt Rushmore, and Sturgis, South Dakota is wall to wall billboards. It's amazing how all the billboards stop after Wall drug. I don't know what that says, but the difference is like night and day. Unfortunately for us, visibility was so poor there was no point in stopping at Mt Rushmore or Devil's Tower, so Wall Drug it was.

One of the other observations I had as I crossed through all the red states is that there is very little political advertising on either side. All the money must be going into television commercials. This lack of advertising wasn't just on the national level, but also on the local level. I rarely saw a road sign for any congressional or senate candidate, much less a state level candidate. This held true for all 14 states I passed through. One would hardly know there was a heated presidential race going on unless one watched television.

I also found out the US is a big country. I put 6800 miles on my truck, making a large triangle with almost equilateral legs from Helena to New Mexico to Indiana and back to Helena. I became a real interstate road warrior and experienced all the weather this country has to offer.

Driving through St Louis in torrential rain was every bit as exciting as driving I 90 on four inches of slushy ice. In either case you were blind passing semis, and at this time of year, that's all there seemed to be on the highways--endless lines of tailgating semis. The economy maybe crashing, but the trucks are sure still rolling---especially Walmart and Fed Ex trucks.

Speaking of the economy, this was a good time to take a long trip. Gas is way down all across the country. From the time I started until I returned gas dropped a good fifty cents a gallon in some parts of the country. It was nice to pull up to many a pump and find the cost under three dollars. I saved a lot of money on gas which I promptly turned into souvenirs much to my daughter's delight.

Tomorrow I'll begin to write about my spiritual experiences, but today it was necessary to get the road out of my head and get caught up on all that I've missed. When I was able to get internet access I didn't spend much time staying up on all things Catholic. The one thing I did manage to catch was the fact that Cardinal Newman's lack of earthly remains thwarted the hijacking of his grave. I thought that was too cosmic for words. Cardinal Newman always was on to the least savory aspects of institutional Catholicism. The man should be made a saint--body or no body.
Until tomorrow.

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