Friday, June 11, 2010

Write of Passage - Day 10 (still cont.)

August 11, 2009: Yellowstone--
Artist Point (2:00-4:30 p.m.)

The finest workers in stone are not copper or steel tools, but the gentle touches of air and water working at their leisure with a liberal allowance of time.
~Henry David Thoreau

Ok, I'm at a loss for words. Or adjectives, I should say. How do I continue to describe the beauty of Yellowstone.....the raw landscapes we encountered, the
untouched prairies we crossed, the rolling hills we drove between, or the roaring waterfalls we stood beside? There are simply no words that truly capture the intensity of this great American icon. This national treasure. The immensity of Yellowstone was overwhelming at times. You seriously could roam for days, weeks, inside this 2.2 million plus acre-wonderland. Although Cote and I touched only a tiny portion of it, what we took in, what we took away, was beyond breath-taking, beyond belief, and yes.....beyond description. So, just like back when we were in the Rockies, I'm going to let the pictures tell a good chunk of today's story.
We took the turn-off for Artist Point about 2:00 in the afternoon. The parking lot was somewhat full, the sun was blazing hot, but there was a comfortable breeze wafting through the pine trees. We still didn't know what to expect, when we strolled past the plain brown sign with the stark white lettering. Artist Point, Lower Falls. Cote and I had not picked up any Yellowstone brochure promoting what we were about to see. We only had Cousin Josh's word from over a week ago that this was a "not-to-miss" point of interest. So, to Artist Point we hiked. We followed the stone
pathway that led to a stone stairway. We took the steps up to the highest rock-laden platform, and then turned our gaze to the left. The view that met us, dropped our jaws and left us speechless.
The canyon was carved in magnificent color, and at the other end was the most amazing waterfall I think either of us had ever seen.
The beauty of it all was stunning, totally captivating. An artist was on site, (no wonder they call this "Artist Point"), painting the scene before him in watercolors, like many I'm sure have done before him. What a gorgeous picture to stare at all day. What an incredible view to try and recreate on canvas.
The hours had to pass as minutes for someone with such talent and eye for detail.
Cote and I snuck a few peeks over his shoulder and then began snapping some pictures of our own. No digital device could ever capture what our eyes beheld, though. The colors were too distinct, the cascading water too powerful, to ever be reproduced on film.
But, taking pictures was an important part of our rite of passage. These snapshots would aid our memory in the months and years to come; they would help us keep our journey alive, no matter how many days should pass.
We lingered at Artist Point for quite some time, and then with heavy sighs, we headed back to our car. It was hard to walk away from such a beautiful site. We had no idea, however, another unexpected, jaw-dropping beauty was waiting for us in the parking lot.....this time of the man-made kind. A mint condition, retro-rockin' VW van was pristinely parked about 4 cars down from our Edge. My heart flip-flopped inside my chest when my eyes fell upon it! The van's exterior was painted 70's-style yellow with snow-white trim. Curtains hung in all the back windows, as an air of free-spiritedness hung in the air. It was cool, yet calm. Classic, yet unique. But the real kicker?.........A pair of bad-momma bullhorns were
fastened to the front panel, just above the VW emblem. The van was beautiful. And it was the epitome of all my vehicular dreams come true.
Cote and I walked around it with great admiration. Not a mark, not a dent. Yet it oozed character, it dripped with charm.
"You should get one of these, Mom."
"Yeah. Right."
"What? Why not? You've always wanted one."
"Yeah, but wanting one doesn't mean I can just go out and get one."
Cote and I gave the old girl a couple last appreciative looks, and then headed back to our car. We opened the doors to cool the interior and took drinks of water to quench our thirst. Before we turned over the ignition, however, the owners of the VW returned.
They were easy to spot, for they fit the part. Young, 22 maybe 23 years old. One male, one female. Longish hair, baggy clothes, unshaven. Clean , but with an air of non-concern about whether they would or wouldn't be by tomorrow.
"Go talk to them."
"Yeah? And say what?"
"I don't know. How about, 'Wanna sell it?'"
"Uh, huh. Maybe they'd be interested in trading their ride for ours, right?"
"C'mon, Mom. What have you got to lose?......."

We walked over.

"Hey, great van."
"Thanks. She is great. Needed some work when I first got her, but now runs real good."
"Oh, yeah? How long have you had her?"
"Six years. Bought her in Canton, Ohio."

(CANTON, OHIO!!!!......SIX YEARS!! That's where my sister lives, and has for over 10!!! This van could have been mine! Should have been mine! Oh, the pain! The sorrow!)

"Canton, huh? Wow. That's where my sister lives."
"Yeah? Long ways away from here, isn't it?"
"Yes, it is. So what kind of work did she need?"
"Well, I had to replace the motor twice, that was the biggest thing. But she's run good ever since, so it was totally worth it. I mean, look......she got us all the way out here to Yellowstone, didn't she?"
"Yes, yes she did. And she's a beauty. So......hmmmmmm........I don't suppose you've ever thought about selling her, have you?"
(shy laugh), "Aw, naw. I don't think I could do that."
"Yeah.....I didn't think so."......(a few more minutes pass as we all stare and admire the golden treasure sitting before us)........"But, I tell you what.....just in case you ever change your mind, here's my name and number."

I thought the kid was going to fall over. His face broke into the biggest smile, as I handed him a small piece of paper. He shook his head back and forth in disbelief, and laughed out loud.
"No way! Really? Cool!!"
"Yeah, it is cool. Well.....Ok, then.......we better get going......but just keep the know....just in case you ever change your mind. It was nice meeting you both.
"Ha! Yeah, you too. Thanks!"

I thought for sure we'd hear at least one "Groovy!" before our conversation ended, but alas, it didn't happen. The young man just stood there, dumbfounded, grinning from ear to ear....the piece of paper I had given him, clutched firmly in his hand. Cote and I returned to our car, and as we pulled away from the parking lot, I watched that 4-wheel beauty get smaller and smaller in my rearview mirror, my dream of being its owner slipping further and further away. To be honest, I don't know what I would have done had he quoted me a price. It would have left me standing at that proverbial fork in the road, that's for sure. But the moment passed quietly, no decision had to be made. As we drove away, I was surprised when the lyrics of a particular song tip-toed into the back caverns of my mind. Who would have thunk that Aerosmith would come to comfort my spirit, would be the one to remind me I could still......."Dream on, dream on, dream on......dream until the dream comes true."

From the Point, Cote and I headed to the upper falls of the Yellowstone River. These were not quite as impressive as the 308' drop of the lower, but still worth stopping for. Besides, we got much closer this time. We took the designated walkway and ended up on a rock platform that jutted out directly over the river's 110' drop. We could feel the powerful rush, the urgency of the water as it pushed over the edge of jagged rock. The spray misted our faces, and the roar deafened our ears. A mini-rainbow skimmed the surface on the opposite side and showed up in almost every picture we took. This river moved
forward, with purpose and power, grace and beauty.
I couldn't help but think how over the years this body of water had changed the appearance of the very rock upon which I now stood. How it pounded the granite surface, making it slick and smooth, while it uncovered a multitude of layers hidden beneath.
The rushing water had etched, and carved, and eroded everything in its path. In quiet reflection I thought about how our own challenges in life carve us as the many forces that push against us, those that seem to pound us at times........often turn out molding us, into something we never thought we could be, or ever thought we would be. For when we are challenged, scraped, and etched by the difficulties of is then that our true core is uncovered. And in our unveiling, we discover what we are made of, and all the beauty and strength that lies beneath.

Powerful Words

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable. ~Kahlil Gibran