Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Musings of Three Weeks with Big Sis

Well, the trip is over.  It doesn't seem possible that a trip of a year's worth of thinking and planning could already be over.  But it is.  We did the trip that many dream of--seeing many of the sights in the western United States.

I don't know exactly where to start.  The trip began in my mind when I read Nicolas Sparks' Three Weeks with my Brother more than a year ago.  It is a good book that chronicled a 3 week trip made by two brothers.  While the trip was good, the part that was great was the brothers' interactions and learning of their life growing up.

Bar and I were not friends growing up.  I don't think either of us hated the other, but I do know we didn't like each other.  Bar was definitely Daddy's girl.  I was definitely Mother's boy.  We had a clear division of parental favorites, and we both learned to work the favoritisms to our benefit during our growing-up years.

Bar was bigger and stronger than I was until I was about 13 years old.  I was a sickly boy, having hepatitis, and polio during the early years.  While neither caused permanent damage, I was not a match for her.  So, I learned to be more conniving and used trickery and lies to keep the score even.  Not a pretty situation, but we both were to be survivors and had to do what we had to do to survive.

When she left home and got married, I was in college (living at home), and we had little contact.  I got married a few years later.  Neither of our spouses liked our sibling.  So, we saw each other only at Christmas and Thanksgiving.  This was the situation for many, many years.  I hardly knew her as an adult.

In 1999, our brother, Jerry died.  I won't go into the circumstances of his death here, but it was a tragic event for the 3 remaining siblings.   I still miss Jerry terribly, and hurt for what he went through in the last year of his life.

His death, however, had the effect of bringing us closer together.  In the meanwhile, Bar's first marriage had ended, and she was married to her current husband, and very happy in her personal life.  A year later, my marriage failed, and, although single, and my life had become much easier and less stressful.  And, Bar and I were beginning to learn more about each other and found that we actually liked each other!

What a wild thing--two siblings who didn't like each other very much for most of our lives now liked each other and enjoyed spending time together.  What a shame that so many years were wasted...

In 2004, I had an opportunity to go to Alaska for a week.  I talked her into going with me, and we had a ball in a rented RV traveling all over the huge state, exploring the territory and learning that we actually had a lot in common.  It was a wonderful experience for me, and I believe for her as well.

We didn't go anywhere together again until last year.  We had talked about various trips, but had not taken the time and trouble to actually plan one.  Realizing that time was passing and we were both getting older and would not always have time to spend together, I talked her into going to New England last year.  We spent two weeks together and had a ball.

So, this year's trip was planned to continue our time together.  And we did.  It was very rewarding to realize that we had outgrown our childhood animosity and had grown to love each other.

I can't name one specific highlight (other than time with Bar).  I'll list some of the top highlights, in no particular order:  Carlsbad Caverns, Snow in Yellowstone, Park Ranger's talk at Grand View Point in Canyonlands NP, BUFFALOES everywhere, Mesa Verde, Roswell NM, Custer State Park, Grand Canyon NP, Needles Highway, and many more that I can't recall this moment.

There were two scares on the trip; the car that cut us off as we entered Oklahoma City.  It could easily have been a very bad wreck (particularly for the other car)  if I had hit them just a bit harder.  And the tornadoes in the Oklahoma City area.  Had we been 5 minutes earlier or later, we could well have been in one of them.  Both events really scared me.  The rest of the trip was non-scary.

We covered a lot of ground.  From my house to return, we went about 7,300 miles.  That was a little less than I had estimated, but still a lot of miles.  Add another 350 for Bar, and she went some 7,650 miles from home to home.  I believe we were in 17 states, most of which were new states for Bar.

We saw Whitetail Deer, Mule Deer, Grey Squirrel, Ground Squirrel, Coyotes, Buffalo, Hawks, Osprey, Foxes, Rattlesnakes, Ravens, Jackrabbit, Rabbit, Lizards and others that won't come to mind.  We did not see some animals we wanted to see, including Moose, Elk, and Wolves.  Maybe next time....

Our highest elevation was about 8,300 feet.  Lowest was home (about 12' for her and about 280' for me).  Temperatures ranged from 95 here to 21 in Yellowstone.  Most of the time, temperatures were really great in the mid-80s.  Coolest trip out west for me by a big margin.

I have posted some pics with this post; some of my favorites.  I am very pleased with the camera I used.  It's a Nikon s8000, and has a 10X optical zoom.  Some of the shots (including a few posted on the blog) were taken from quite some distance, and were done at a 5mp resolution.  I just wonder how they would have looked if they had been done in a 14mp resolution???  It's a great camera for snapshots.

It was a wonderful trip, filled with laughter, rememberences, some sadness, and togetherness.  I'm already looking forward to next year's trip to the Pacific Ocean states of California, Oregon, and Washington!

1 comment:

  1. Touching post. Beautiful pictures.
    Pacific Ocean, California, Oregon and Washington. This will be a wonderful trip.