By: Mary Anne Erickson
Loss and Gratitude on the Road of Life
Sunday September 14, 2014 – Day 9
From Winslow to Kingman, Arizona
Monday September 15, 2014 – Day 10
From Kingman, Arizona to Barstow, California
I’m writing from Barstow, after an amazing last supper hosted by the Mexican restaurant at the Quality Inn where we’re spending the night. It was 106 degrees today as we crossed The Mohave Desert, and Jen and I were blessed to be in an air conditioned car. Many of the riders had real issues with over heating (both physically and mechanically with their bikes). They wore cooling vests and many of them dowsed themselves with water at every chance to help bring down their body heat, but the unrelenting sun could not be reckoned with. Several people went down and had to ride in the only other car the rest of the way.
I was imagining how the early travelers on Route 66 would have dealt with such a huge expanse of desert heat and sun, moving at a much slower pace than we were? It’s easy to understand why so many didn’t make it all the way.
Yesterday started out great with a photo op in front of the fabulous mural that accompanies Jackson Browne’s statue “standin’ on a corner” in Winslow, Arizona. It’s funny as the store across the street has the Eagles songs from that same album blasting as you get your picture taken there – and some very creative folks have painted a mural that depicts the reflection of a flat bed Ford with a cute girl hanging out the window looking at him. They also have a beautiful old red flat bed Ford there for added dramatic effect!
Next we headed for the Grand Canyon. I have been there several times, but this was a first for Jen and I knew how powerful it would be for her. As we approached the park I was taken by the Flintstone Village on the left side of the road and had to stop in for a few postcards and to grab some shots of the funny buildings all reminiscent of the cartoon series of yesteryear.
We arrived at the Canyon and started looking for a place to park – not an easy task on a Sunday around noontime. It was packed out! Lot 1 was full so we proceeded to the next lot which also had a number of RV’s. We found a spot where some folks were leaving and decided to take our valuables from the back seat and put them in the trunk (that being the bag with my ipad, my visual journal of the whole trip, and a slew of cool postcards I’ve purchased along the way.) I tucked it on top of all the other luggage, slammed the trunk and off we went to see the Canyon.
It was as awe-inspiring as I remembered it. I decided it’s really not worth taking many pictures of it – as photos really can’t begin to capture the majesty of the place. It’s too grand to be condensed into a small reproduction – or even a large one. It’s something that to my mind can only be experienced to know what it is.
We knew we had a long day still ahead, so we made another stop or two along the rim and then headed south and west again through Williams and Seligman. Both great Route 66 towns that I had already done some serious documenting several years ago. I got some new shots though that I’m excited about – especially at Delgadillos Snow Cap – a seriously fun attraction on this stretch of road.
We rolled into Kingman late – around 6:30 and the crew was gearing up for dinner at the steakhouse just down the road. We opened the trunk to pull out our bags and I noticed immediately that my bag with the ipad and journal were gone. How could this be? We looked everywhere in the car – but of course never found them. We eventually deduced that they must have been stolen at the Grand Canyon. I felt sick to my stomach and shaky all over. My ipad has been my lifeline to this blog, to all of you. Not to mention, all the cords to transfer my photos from my camera were in that bag too. But really the most upsetting was the loss of my journal – something I planned carefully for months before the ride – this was my special accounting of Route 66 from start to finish – my tailor made memory book that I would refer to for years to come. I had purchased an instant camera so I could take pics and enter them as we went along – I would always know what belonged where on Route 66! All of that now gone!
I was numb. I felt like something had died – been taken from me. The death of a dream – a project aborted. Where to start? Jen whipped into action and put an ad with a reward on Craig’s List. I called the police and the rangers at The Grand Canyon to report it. What else? Change your passwords – use “find your phone” – but I don’t think I ever registered it? or did I? (turns out I didn’t so there’s no way to track it). I’m sure by now it’s been wiped clean and someone else is purchasing it for dirt cheap. I know that all my photos are in the cloud – that I’ll be able to reload all my apps – that I will get a new one and regroup. But the journal – now that’s never going to be replaced. My prayer is that some kind soul will find it and seek me out to return it. But in the meantime, I’m present to the predatory universe we live in and how one must always be thoughtful and mindful of protecting the things we love.
In this moment, I’m present to my desire to finish this amazing ride with gratitude for all that has gone so well:
1) for our little Toyota Echo which will soon be delivered to its owner in her new home in the Bay Area – she’s been a champ on the road!
2) for Jen’s willingness to come along on the ride and have such a blast with me. We have gotten along swimmingly and will go home much better friends than when we started. And for her letting me use HER ipad to write this blog!
3) for our good health and vitality the entire way – this ride has been challenging in so many ways.
4) for the excellent weather we were blessed with from start to finish
5) for my amazing husband Richard who said I could follow my heart’s desire and wished me well for a 2 1/2 week vacation from him and our business
6) for the organizer Rodger Fox who planned such an amazing itinerary for all of us
7) for the great group of people who chose to come along for the ride
8) for the great group of donors who have helped us raise $4,500 which we’ve donated to the American Cancer Society
9) for my angels who told me to put the envelope with my very important documents on the back seat instead of in the black bag
10) for still having my cameras, my iphone and my money and credit cards
11) for my desire to shake off the disappointments of the past (yesterday!) and start fresh – get back on the horse – and not let the goons win. They can’t take away all that I’ve loved about this trip.
So I wasn’t able to share as many photos today as this blog is an experiment with my phone, a tiny screen and a new app! It’s still full of love for all of you and for this amazing opportunity I’ve been given.