Friday, July 5, 2013

America the Beautiful

The drive from Ketchum to Sula, Montana, was, in a word, beautiful. From the snow dappled mountains of the Sawtooth and Bitterroot ranges, to the Big Wood and Salmon rivers flanking our drive, to the fields of freshly mown and bailed hay, to the brown and black cattle nibbling on sweet, green grasses, all was majestic and fine. It reminded me of our motorcycle trip in June/July 2001.

Our friend, Rich Powell, who passed away from cancer two years ago exactly from the date this will post, joined us on that trip. We rode through parts of Idaho and Montana, some of which we will travel this trip. We had CB radio communication between us and I remember our conversations of how the scenery in this part of the country was exactly what was meant in the lyrics of 'America the Beautiful.' 

On one leg of our journey through Wyoming, on our way to Yellowstone, we stopped because Rob needed something at a general store. Rich and I laid back on a low, grassy hill in front of the Post Office next door to the general store. We watched the stars and stripes flapping lazily in the breeze on the flagpole above us and I asked Rich if he could remember the lyrics to the National Anthem. It was sad that neither of us could. I knew the words were in my databank somewhere, so that's what I thought about as we rode on and on through the countryside. Finally, I was able to recall the lyrics and I sang it in my head over and over until I could sing it without stumbling over the words. I recall both Rob and Rich tsking as though doing it was foolish and a waste of time. (What else was I going to do riding for hours on the back of a GoldWing, eh?) But, why? Because I have pride in my country and what our founding fathers wanted for us—freedom from tyranny, oppression, repression and monarchial and government control—and I was ashamed that I had forgotten.

Then, two months later 9/11 happened. The whole country woke up and came together. Sadly, the country has gone back to sleep again, dreaming of some sort of utopia where everyone is equal in every way, and everyone is safe from every thing, and human nature is forever changed and we all live happily ever after; and, forgetting that there are those who are gaining power, telling the country what it seems to want to hear and all the while attempting to put into place all the things our founding fathers tried to avoid because they already knew that human nature will never change. That there will always be those who lead and those who do not, those who will take advantage of opportunity and those who do not, those who will excel and those who do not, those who see the big picture and those who do not, those who think of themselves as victims and those who do not, and those who prey on human weaknesses for the purpose of becoming powerful and controlling and those who do not, those who try to stop tyranny from taking root and those who do not, and, also, those who come to our country to join in our way of life and those who do not but come here instead to change us. Beware!! Read history. It tells you everything you need to know about the future.

But, I digress.

We arrived at our campground in the Bitterroot National Forest. No one was here except the camp host. We had no cell coverage, no WiFi, and the trees were too tall to get satellite reception. But what we did have was Sirius/XM radio, so Rob and I listened to the 60s station all evening. Cousin Brucie, our disc jockey, gave tidbits of musical history with each song played. I remember Cousin Brucie from my time living in New Jersey. He worked for WABC out of New York and was THE disc jockey to listen to. One of the tunes Cousin Brucie played was 'Kind of a Drag' by the Buckinghams. Remember all the songs you sang to thinking you knew the lyrics only to find out you were hearing them wrong all along? Like Creedence Clearwater Revival with 'there's a bathroom on the right' when it really was "there's a bad moon on the rise.' 'Kind of a Drag' was that kind of song for me. I was 11 years old singing my heart out to 'Canada Dry,' which was a popular soft drink brand at the time. Yup. That was me. Sigh.

Then Cousin Brucie played Ray Charles' version of 'America the Beautiful.' I gave thanks for being able to spend Independence Day under the trees in a National Forest with nothing but my wonderful husband and my childhood recollections to keep me company.

So, thank you, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, John Muir, Theodore Roosevelt, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and the scores of others whose sacrifices and whose life's work did much to make and keep America beautiful and the fine nation it is and, I hope, continues to be.

We may not be perfect, but we are the best. Happy Independence Day!

Linda Cook
July 4, 2013

Driving north on highway 93 through Idaho.

Some of the local wildlife.

Rob cooling his feet in the Salmon River.

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