I believe the best TV shows were in my childhood. To this day, I still have positive memories associated with certain TV shows. The Wild West’s image became imprinted in my mind with such shows as High Chaparral, Gun Smoke, and Bonanza. Even The Brady Bunch episodes of their family camping trip introduced the Wild West to my southern worldview.
Until the last two weeks, these shows were my only view of the states out West. It never entered my mind I’d get to see for myself. As with most things in my life, if it had not been for the Lord, likely, I would not have seen this region. God provided our housing from the hands of other believers. We only had to provide our grub and vittles.
My husband and I packed up our wagon and proceeded to make our own wagon rut trails. When we finished, we’d been to South Dakota, Wyoming, Arkansas, Colorado, Montana, Texas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico!
My first impression was of time. Every image from television we saw in real life. It was as if nothing changed. The land displayed Old West icons such as tepees and statues of riding cowboys. Functioning motels still displayed the old signage that advertised hot water, TV, phones, and such. Riding in The Brady Bunch station wagon roaming on to adventure drifted through my mind several times.
The West’s terrain is rough, with plains and rugged mountains; few trees compared to Mississippi. With the wide-open spaces, it’s easy to see trees standing alone, and small brush plants covering the golden, dry ground. And the sky…well, it truly is big.
All this reality matched my imagination and ideas from television.
As we traveled back to lush, beautiful, tree-filled Mississippi, we recounted things seen in the Wild West. Here’s the list:
Adobe houses, Antelope, Aspens
Buffalo, Bulls, Butter Burgers
Cannabis shops, Canyons, Cattle guards, Chipmunks, Continental Divide, Cows, Cowboys, Cowboy hats, Creeks, Coyote, Campsites
Farmstead ruins, Fences
Galaxies, Ghost town, Gas Flares, Ground plants
Long-Horned cattle, Llamas
Pinon pines, Ponderosa Pines, Plains, Prairies
Ranches. Rivers, Rockies
Sage plants, Solar panels, Stucco houses
Tepees, Thunder, Trading Posts, Trains
Wild West museums, Windmills
That list is impressive, but the ability to match imagination to reality is the gift of travel. The ways and even the weather of a different region of the US extract a wonder in the soul.
One day, I heard the “rolling thunder” on the mountain where we lodged, and the lyrics from “How Great Thou Art” sprang to mind. We cheerfully sang, “This Land is Your Land,” as we meandered through prairies. The song “Home on the Range” has the line “where the deer and the antelope play” This reminded me of music classes from childhood as we traveled the West’s expanses. We spied hippies and their old vans from that era. All these sightings signaled past time, days gone by, except they were living on before our eyes in modern times.
I’d say our passage through the West was rewarding, rugged, and reminiscent of retro television episodes. But Mississippi’s soft beauty, verdant grass, overgrown tree-lined highways, and bursting blooms were a welcome sight back to modern civilization and our reality.
“Listen, you’re job is to back me up, because you’d starve without me. And you, your job is to shut up.” — Butch Cassidy