“We go eastward to realize history, and study the works of art and literature, retracing the steps of the race, — we go westward as into the future, with a spirit of enterprise and adventure.” Henry David Thoreau
This summer I flew to Portland, Oregon to meet up with one of my oldest and dearest friends, and then we spent the next 4 days driving the 2,471 miles back to columbus. We drove through 10 states, slept about 15 hours the whole way, almost ran over a bison (buffalo?) talked a lot about our futures, drove through 2 straight hours of sunflower fields in south dakota, did not see a single bear, but did see some of the most beautiful pieces of land in this country.
We left Portland and headed up to Spokane, went through the Lolo National Forest at sunset, drove through the great city of Butte (made a lot of butt jokes) and then we went a little bit south and a little bit east and camped out in West Yellowstone. We spent the day in Yellowstone, said Hello to the Grand Tetons and then scooted back up to Highway 14 (the most scenic route) and exited Yellowstone through the east. We stopped on the side of the road just outside of Yellowstone and watched the sun begin fall beneath the mountains, the air smelled like sage and the blacktop burnt my feet and I remember thinking that if the car broke down on that specific stretch of road and we were stuck there forever, watching the sun drop behind the mountains and eating warm peanutbutter sandwiches for the rest of my days I would have been content.
At sunset we came into Cody with a beautiful canyon to our left and the Shoshone river flowing through it. A rodeo stadium welcomed us as we entered town with a giant sign proclaiming “Rodeo Capital of the World” and the air smelled like the earth and Buffalo Bill memorabilia was on every corner. The next day we were on the road before sunrise, caught the sun around GreyBull, drove through Bighorn National Forest, skirted the Black Hills National Forest, spent the afternoon in the Badlands, made it out of Sioux Falls where we camped out eating our leftover badlands indian tacos in the dark. We woke the next day where we were welcomed into the midwest with cloud cover and rainfall as far as the eye could see. It was a mad dash across the country and gave my soul all the confirmation it needed that the American West is so full of hope and determination and is capable of rejuvenating even the most weary.
There’s something so inspiring about an empty road that goes on and on and on until the horizon meets the earth where the sun burns a pathway straight into heaven and if you stare too hard for too long you’ll slip right into the heat waves and become a mirage yourself. The west is so undomesticated, the skies are bigger, the roads are longer, and the landscape follows no rules. You can travel for miles and see nothing or no one and then suddenly the earth splits in two and you’re on the edge of a great canyon and you can see for miles and miles the layers of the earth and how the rest of the world formed itself around this very split. You become all at once so small in comparison but so big in your ability to get yourself there.
see the full collection of photos here http://www.tamriningram.com/oregon-was/
“My needle is slow to settle — varies a few degrees, and does not always point due south-west, it is true, and it has good authority for this variation, but it always settles between west and south-south-west. The future lies that way to me, and the earth seems more unexhausted and richer on that side. The outline which would bound my walks, would be, not a circle, but a parabola, or rather like one of those cometary orbits, which have been thought to be non-returning curves, in this case opening westward, in which my house occupies the place of the sun. I turn round and round irresolute sometimes for a quarter of an hour, until I decide for the thousandth time, that I will walk into the south-west or west. Eastward I go only by force; but westward I go free”. -Henry David Thoreau