Into The Great Wide Open: Touring The American West (Part X & Final)…
Writing is a solitary event. It draws from within to expel to without. It causes reflection and creates a mystical sense of discovery. As I departed for the final leg of my journey, I couldn’t help to think that driving is no different, particularly when one drives the American West.
With about 500 miles to go, my two-week road trip of the American West was ending. Springfield was now behind me as I drove eastwards across Indiana through the evening twilight. Taking the bypass around Indianapolis, I saw silhouetted skyscrapers in the distance with red beacons blinking atop. It brought back memories of another time, a time of earlier years when I spent three months there as a young Air Force officer. It made me reflect on the people I met there. Where were they now? What life journeys did they take, or did they not take? Did they choose paths that led them to happiness?
It’s strange, but driving the American West does this to one. One can never be certain what the genesis of these thoughts are, but they do exist. They consist of something, but what exactly? The brain is simply too complicated to reveal the origin of its machinations. It leaves one wondering about times past and times yet to come. Without explanation, it reaches into the depths of our mind and grasps for a once forgotten thought, a once forgotten hope. It tugs at our desires and makes us feel alive again. With youthful spring, we cover the miles journeyed. The American West does this all, and then some. It’s a window unto the world, a window of discovery waiting to happen.
That evening would see me stop in Fort Wayne, Indiana before heading onto Fremont, Ohio the next morning. Home to the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library, Fremont is a small town of approximately 17,000 people located on the banks of the Sandusky River. The downtown is picturesque and is close to Spiegel Grove. It’s there that one finds the house of Rutherford B. Hayes (1822-1893), America’s 19th President. Next to it stands the Presidential Library, the first to be built, which opened in 1916.
Hayes isn’t ranked as one of America’s great Presidents, but he did bring a semblance of stability to the White House. He was a one-term president and kept his word not to run a for a second term. He retired to his house in Fremont after leaving office, which is worth a visit. It’s laid out in exact accordance with the original furniture as it was before his passing of a heart attack there. He saw to it that pictures were taken to assure future generations of the exact location of everything the house contained.
My visit here ended with a walk of downtown before heading onto the Ohio Turnpike. There I would travel south of Lake Erie via Cleveland and then Erie, Pennsylvania, and arrive at the Buffalo US/Canada border close to midnight. Another two hours after that and I would see the skyline of Toronto lay before me. That unique symbol of the CN Tower was once again in view. It stood as the marker that I was once again at home.
After some 5,554 miles (8,939 km), my tour into the great wide open of the American West had ended. For two weeks in August, the road had become my home. Traversing great expanses, I would criss-cross through some 15 states from Michigan to Wyoming, Utah to New York. Rivers passed, plains crossed, mountains climbed, and valleys navigated, the American West can’t help but to leave an indelible mark upon one’s memory. It’s a journey into time – past, present and future. It carries a mystique like no other place.
Observe the sunsets, listen to the hollowing winds, and feel the rush of the wilds. The soul turns to fire. This is the American West.
I shall return…
Note: Photos are by the author.
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