The best TV shows were made in my childhood. To this day I still have positive memories associated with certain TV shows. The image of the Wild West was 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 2 weeks, these shows were my view to the states in the heart of the West. It never entered my mind that I’d go see for myself. As with most things in my life, if it had not been for the Lord, it likely would not have happened. And such was the case with this expedition. Housing was provided by God from the hands of other believers. We just had provide our own grub and vittles.
My husband and I packed up our wagon and proceeded to go 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 was actually seen in real life. It was as if nothing changed. It felt retro. The land displayed Old West icons such as tepees and statues of riding cowboys. We even saw functioning motels still displaying 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 terrain of the West 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 out 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, Camp sites
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.
Lyrics from the hymn “How Great thou Art” sprung to my mind when I heard the “rolling thunder” on the mountain where we lodged. “This Land is Your Land” was sung cheerfully as we meandered through prairies. The song “Home on the Range” has the line “where the deer and the antelope play” and this reminded me of music classes from childhood as we traveled the expanses of the West. Even the hippies we saw and the old vans from that era all signaled of days gone by, except they were living on before our eyes in modern times in a current generation.
I’d say our passage through the West was rewarding, rugged, and reminiscent of the episodes of retro television. 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