there is this silence in the badlands...
I’ve been very ill this week. In fact, I’m supposed to be in Amsterdam speaking at a camp right now. Instead I’m lying here in my bed wondering how much of this I can actually get typed down before nature calls and I have to make my next visit to what has lately become my second home.
And as I laid here trying to read, I heard what sounded like the noise that tires make on a really loud highway. I’m not talking about a highway with bumps in it. Just one of those highways that gives off a high pitched hum when tires travel on them. It’s a noise that I distinctly remember hearing at night while I was in the back of the family car, trying to sleep. It made me remember how much I miss road trips. I finally looked out my bedroom window to see what it was, but it was only a tow truck picking up a stranded vehicle. Still, it was a nice memory trigger.
Several years ago I made a road trip of my own. I took three weeks and drove across the country (U.S.). And though I missed my wife, it was one of the most amazing and spiritual experiences of my life. One that I will never forget and one that I hope to have again one day. I started in Pennsylvania and drove south through West Virginia, and Maryland to visit some family I had in Virginia. Then south again to visit a friend in Nashville. Then west through Arkansas (much prettier than I had imagined) to visit the place where I grew up, Oklahoma City. Then northwest through Texas, and New Mexico to visit with a friend and some new found family members (half brother and two half sisters) in Colorado.
From there I was on my own for the rest of the trip.
I drove up to the northwest corner of Wyoming where I spent several days in the Grand Tetons (I totally recommend) and Yellowstone. An area of the country that has to be seen to be believed. I then skimmed the Montana border as I drove West. I had always wanted to see Montana and I was not disappointed. In fact, I returned there a year later with my wife. From there I continued west to South Dakota where I visited Mt. Rushmore, Sturgis, Devil’s Tower, and the place that had been the inspiration for the entire trip, The Badlands.
I’ve shared before on this blog that music may be the one pleasure in life that drives me most. Though I was too big a coward to try and actually pursue music on a professional level, I have music in my life everyday and tend to be drawn to others who are passionate about it (Thus my stop in Nashville). So one day I picked up a CD with various artists on it. The CD was a tribute CD to the late Rich Mullens. Rich Mullens is one of those guys whose name you might not know, but whose music you definitely do (Awesome God). On the CD was a song called Calling Out Your Name (it’s the song playing over on the right). It was covered by Chris Rice. And in it is the line, “There is this silence in The Badlands.” I had never been to the Badlands or even seen a picture of it, but I knew at that moment that I had to see it. And so I decided to plan a road trip to do so. That road trip turned into a three week pilgrimage across the United States. There is some irony and some symbolism (that not everybody will find so obvious) in the fact that The Badlands was my last major stop of the trip. And I have to tell you that Rich was right, after almost three weeks on the road, there is this silence in The Badlands.
Calling Out Your Name continues to be one of my all time favourite songs and that road trip an experience I hope to, one day, have again.
The picture above is from that trip. It’s a self taken photo of me (about 40 lbs. heavier) in the badlands. It was meant to be my album cover. : )
p.s. I had to include this second picture just to show off how gnarly my goatee was. : )