June 13, 2002

Go West, Old Man,

Go West, Old Man, Go West!

I am arrived safely on the planet Wyoming. My luggage however remains firmly terrestrial. Hurrah for the carry-on underwear and toothbrush, thanks to Mother Ann in her infinite wisdom.

Roanoke to Chicago to Denver to Rapid City.

Waiting in airports. In all airports, each individual, rarely more than two or three souls together, become enveloped in a bubble-of-solitude protective shield. Look carefully, out of the corner of your eye. It is round, vaguely opalescent, brittle, preventing close seating or conversation. It may persist in the plane or it may disappear when necessity seats one bubble in the domain of another. (Insert here the tale of the two complete strangers in front of me whose bubbles instantly merged and remained so, becoming turgid with unbroken soul-bearing, from Roanoke to O'hare).

Boarding the toy jet out of Roanoke, we stood on the plank outside the cockpit waiting to board. Bad omen: I got a really good view of the pilot. Balding, frumpy, and lumpish, he was created by Gary Larsen and I know his name was Bob.

There was a slight delay from Chicago to Denver: some minor mechanical problems with the aircraft. Finally, the steward announced "We will be underway now. We expect no immediate problems with the aircraft". You could feel sort of a group-squirm as we all questioned the significance of the word IMMEDIATE.

Last leg in a crop duster. A service of Dairy-Air, the Cow's Rump of Airlines. Provided were leather helmet, scarf and goggles. My window seat view just opposite the propeller was a lesson in time, rocks and water. The latter: former. Obviously used to be a lot more water out here to cause eroded canyons that have since filled almost to the rim with dust. Dust is the color of everything north of Denver. Why would we want to go the moon when we have this piece of geography RIGHT HERE? More water to the north, and even the rare color GREEN as we entered South Dakota; cows, even.

It is another planet out here. Sky from horizon to the other horizon and 150 miles between. Thought: I want to hear Wyoming thunder. I have this observation-supported theory that thunder in the Appalachians has a unique timbre, rhythm and resonance created by the baffled mountains, gently dissected valleys, and muted nap of deciduous forest. I expect thunder here to be flat, quick and without the familiar roll and echo of Goose Creek thunder.

Birds, trees, flowers and ferns, and the local aliens. Much to explore on Planet Wyoming. I prepare to don my spacesuit (the one I fortuitously packed in my carry-on) and venture out. One small step for man...

Posted by fred1st at June 13, 2002 08:55 AM

Just reading these small fragments of "Go West Old Man, Go West" were very insightful. The author must be sucessful to have such style and rythmic ability

Posted by: John at October 13, 2003 10:37 PM

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