Thus far, this year I've traveled from the Desert Southwest, across the lower Great Plains, into the Blue Ridge Mountains to Virginia, across the Appalachians and into Kentucky's rolling hills up along the Ohio River, down through the Deep South to Florida, back up along the Mississippi and north to the Ohio River Valley again. I continued farther north into the home of the American Industrial Revolution and farther then across the Great Lakes and the north woods of Michigan. I turned westward and passed through the northern reaches of the Midwest farmlands and across the headwaters of the Mississippi. Next I paralleled the railroad though North Dakota's oil and gas boom towns to Montana's wide open rangelands and into Glacier National Park.
I've lost count now how many times I've crossed the U.S. by automobile. I can safely say though, it's more than 20. As I travel, geographical regions, neighborhoods, ecological zones, time zones, towns, yards, parking lots and cities wash through me. Everyplace has a distinct feeling. There are some places I pass through that I am struck by thoughts of the people who lived in the place before it was called a part of the U.S., before Europeans established their order on it.
As I stand at the base of these northern Rocky Mountains, surrounded by crowds of summer vacationers, I think about the people who used to hunt and fish here. They now live down the highway and shop at Teepie's IGA and Glacier Family Foods. It's hard not to feel like a trespasser as I stand beside a paved road filled with cars and watch groups of people run along the rocks and streams with iPads and phones making photos of themselves in this place; as I watch the cars drive under glacial runoff, passenger arms reaching out to touch it; as I listen to cameras click, children squeal, and people laugh and make excited comments about this or that.
I lift my camera and make a photograph, feeling extremely humbled in the presence of this place. It's too late now to go back to how things were as the tsunami of modern humanity spills wildly across the planet. As I stand here, I am struck by a feeling that these mountains and the spirits that live in them are just watching all this happening and waiting for it to pass - all things do.