Day 49 – Reflection Driving

The penultimate day of our epic journey started early with a beautiful Montana morning. It was chilly, but somehow it didn’t feel quite as cold as yesterday morning. The entire day was nothing but driving and beautiful scenery. Eventually, we left the open range; saw the Rockies in the distance; approached the Rockies; crossed the Rockies; and came down the other side to find ourselves in Washington State once again.

As we reached the mountains, the Western Larch (or Tamarack) trees were in their golden splendor. I had never seen a larch tree in the Fall before, and they are stunning.

We finished listening to “Truman,” and in the aftermath, we did a lot of reflecting – about this trip; our lives; the choices we’ve made; the opportunities we’ve had; the struggles we’ve overcome, etc. etc.

When we reached Missoula, MT about 2:00 p.m. we knew we should find some sustenance or we might be sorry. Right along the interstate we stumbled upon “Sean Kelly’s Stone of Accord.” It was an Irish pub, with traditional Irish fare. My driver ordered “Stovie” which is like a dish familiar in our family as “roadkill,” a stir fry of just about everything in the kitchen. He loved it. I ordered “Beef pasties with champs,” a kind of hand-held pot pie with Irish mashed potatoes and chives; Guinness gravy on the side. Both were delicious and a very memorable lunch for our second-last day of travel. We love finding the local color and experimenting with tasting new and different menu items. This one will be memorable.

Back to driving and reflecting. After seeing so many new places and visiting with family from several branches of our family trees along this journey, we could not help but be self-reflective. We thought a lot about how a journey of this magnitude takes us away from all that is familiar and helps us to appreciate what we know and recognize as “home;” where we’ve come from and who we’ve become; who has loved and encouraged us in the process; and who we have given life to and loved along the way.

Engaging with and visiting with so many different people in so many different places throughout the country (and Canada) has given us a new appreciation for the wonderful, thoughtful, kind, and considerate men our children have become. We are proud of the choices they have made; the gifts they have fostered and honed; the sensibilities they profess; the values they uphold; and the commitments they have made. Every single person is unique and each a miracle of wonder, but we are especially proud and love the wonder that each of our sons has become. There is no greater grace in this world than seeing our sons be thoughtful, creative, energetic, productive and loving young men.

Sometimes it’s difficult to remember, but a journey like this helps us recall that every moment of every experience has influenced us in one way or another. Yet, we can never deny where we have come from. We can, however, grow and change because of what we have seen, learned, and experienced. Using what we have known and where we have come from as a foundation of strength to build on, we can use new information to make sound and loving choices for the future. Nothing is insignificant. There is grace in every detail.

So, embrace the journey; whether it be a single step, or 49 days of wandering the country. Be observant; be compassionate; be loving; be open to new and unusual experiences. Never be afraid to be exactly who you are; and never be afraid to change and grow as a result of all you have seen and experienced.