I can hear them. I can still do the hand gestures that go with those five unmistakeable tones. I can see the frantic mashed potato sculpture and crave more butter.
I understand the obsessiveness of needing to see a place. I feel the pull that can’t be explained or denied. It could be easy, that you are a huge nerd and want to be where it happened. I believe there are places with a pull stronger than that. Maybe it’s that you’ve been there before, and need to return if you believe in that sort of thing. Maybe it’s a glitch in the program because you are more aware for some reason. Perhaps it is some sort of reincarnated request returned by the Universe reminding you to tap in.
It is beyond the lovely idea of a bucket list, beyond the ooooh that place looks awesome. Some places we just have to see to feel complete.
So much of the real world puts me in a state of awe. I gasp at sunsets and smirk at the subtle chirps of birds I can’t see and laugh when squirrels harass the dog. I am overwhelmed with the taste of a freshly picked garden tomato. I cherish the smell of tomato worms even though they scare me, really scare me. I am guilty of goosebumps and tears when the music is right. Especially every opening to any Star Wars movie, every single time. I am consistently amazed by the world we live in because I choose to be.
Some things in this world have a pull so profound that it makes no sense, an illogical attraction. Some things in this world have forced an awe into me that I can’t explain and shouldn’t deny.
Devil’s Tower is one of those places that I needed to see, and had felt compelled to see most of my life.
It was years ago, but I remember like the trip like it was last week. Remembering joy lately is really more important than ever.
We rode there, one of my first long rides on a brand new bike. I had pre ride jitters. Tank was of course more ready for anything than me in those days. Somehow she believes in me, that ghost in the machine. I should listen to her voice more often.
We planned a route, packed light, prepared to stop for gatorade and snacks.
We geared up and headed to a place that had called me for as long as I could remember.
Over and over on a rather insistent loop I could hear the 5 tones. Re, Mi, Do, Do, So…
The Maestro of Star Wars did those too, somehow that makes more sense. My Monkey brain makes the world so much smaller sometimes.
We head North in the summer heat. I was so nervous and excited, but the 105* heat in full gear was uncomfortable. Sweating bullets… cue Megadeth… drying off so fast that even standing up to catch the wind through every opened vent wasn’t cooling us off. I have been hot before, but this felt like riding into a giant hairdryer set on high heat wrapped in a blanket in a tanning booth. As we rode we looked for a rest stop with something rather hard to find in parts of Wyoming… shade.
We found a rest stop and laughed, we found a possible repreive. The sprinklers were on. We pulled over and ran in the sprinklers like three year olds. This time choosing to soak ourselves, unlike times when we would reluctantly be the blue dot. This time, not a cloud in sight, seeking what we would some day hide from. Learning to weather the weather.
Not a far ride from the house, a long day ride really. I was full of giddy excitement, recreating movie scenes in my head, because I have always been a huge nerd. I was impatiently waiting for the moment I would finally see it, the big reveal.
Riding along in the heat, the weather began to change a bit to our favor as the scenery did. The mountains and the tall trees providing at least more beautiful scenery to stare at, and a bit of shade and a most welcomed drop in temperature. I didn’t know what to expect, but was enjoying the ride. Sometimes you just have to enjoy the moment.
Helmet to helmet communicators are very useful for a long ride. Safety, passing trucks, making quick stops for gas. The practical pieces however, aren’t why I love them. I love singing songs together like you’re around a campfire and can’t remember all of the words. The right voice of encouragement and reminder to breathe, and keep your chin up if the ride gets challenging. The best advice for anyone, anywhere at anytime as far as I am concerned. They are a great thing…
Except for when you are on the other end of a dream come true with a person who is really, really excited. Sorry not sorry, babe.
We rounded a bend and there it was on the horizon appearing out of nowhere.
I could not contain the very loud SQUEEEEEEE and ramblings of a really excited little kid. Between my breath being taken away and my DO YOU SEE IT squeals that were loud enough that I’m pretty sure the cars driving ten miles away even heard, I just cried those blessed tears of joy and stared. I was mesmerized and he was probably a bit deaf.
Then I hear through my helmet… hey babe, keep your eyes on the road.
Oh yeah, I’m the one riding this machine. A bit of a Moonstruck snap out of it moment…and a nod to the practical parts I mentioned.
We kept riding. Touching the tower on that day was not part of the plan. We had planned to spend the night somewhere and spend much of the next day actually there.
We make it to the cute little Bed and Breakfast. I of course get nervous riding up a dirt road on a new bike. I gratefully hear chin up, look ahead, don’t forget to breathe. I needed help to park in the gravel, but I had made it. Progress, not perfection.
We check in with the hostess, unload the bikes and sit on the couch inside to cool off. The Tower off in the distance somewhere, out of sight until tomorrow, I had seen it but would have to wait just a little bit longer. It felt a bit like Christmas when the new toy needed batteries and you didn’t have the right ones in the freezer. The strange ways the Universe teaches us patience.
We finish off left over fried chicken from a lunch time stop and a few drinks on the porch. We say hello to the cats that came to visit and see deer in the tall grass and watch the sun set. Simple. Glorious.
In the morning we have fried eggs and bacon and sausage and coffee made by our sweet hostess who lets us know that getting there early is better. She said that depending on the day they limit the numbers of people who can actually go in, that there could be lines. I am torn between annoyed at the idea of being in a long line of cars cue the Cake song and loving the idea that this too could be a movie scene. Re, Mi, Do, Do, So…..
We head out. There were no lines. We simply get there. Take the long path to walk around the place that had pulled me to be present. I am in awe. I suddenly want to take up rock climbing to make it to the top, or rent a helicopter. I am all smiles and tripping as I can only look up.
Wee little me was disappointed to know that there is not a secret entrance into the tower where magical creatures live, or more likely the bright side is that their secrets are still safe. There wasn’t a dragon peeking out, trust me I looked. The aliens didn’t come, but a sense of relief did.
The pull let go.
When we were kids and helped each other get started on the swings at the park with a pull and a release, that moment of lightness, with a smile ear to ear. That. I had been present in the place that had pulled me and had been released. A gift of gifts.
The ride home would find me smiling and grateful having experienced a moment in a place that had pulled me, with my person. Pure joy.
Until the flat tire somewhere around Cheyenne.
Pull over, see what we can do. The can of goo supposed to fix it, well…didn’t. Surprise. Being Sunday if you ride, you know. Sunday means nope you’re not getting a bike fixed. So does Monday by the way, and we couldn’t stay somewhere near Cheyenne for two days.
Miles and miles from home, call the tow truck. Small wins and little blessings, the truck took Tank all the way back home. Expecting a bazillion dollar bill, it was only 50 bucks or so. Another reminder that no matter how stuck I am, typically anything can be fixed with a credit card and a cell phone and asking for help. Yeah, I know I’m lucky those are options and I am grateful.
Hop on the back, two up. I got to ride home cupcake. Having my own bikes, I rarely if ever do and it was a sweet surprise. Another secret win to a weekend of wonders.
Now, I write and dream of the other places that pull me knowing that in these uncertain times that travel to my places of wonder really aren’t in the plans for a while. But those places are there and someday I know we will be too. With bells on, or maybe my glitter docs and a hell of a lot more confidence.
In the meantime, I have the gift of remembering. The voice of the ghost in the machine lending me her bravery, she still does. The reminder to keep your chin up, eyes on the road and to breathe, to look where you’re going. The squee of unbridled joy that makes me smile thinking about it, and gratitude for the places that pull.