I can still see the VHS boxset I cherished as a child. Three movies and a fourth tape equivalent of current-day bonus features. Roy Rogers, whom I wanted to become desperately, in movies like “Don’t Fence Me In,” and “San Fernando Valley.”
I loved those movies, and I watched them until the tape was worn out.
As I drove through Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona on my way to San Diego, all of those black-and-white movie scenes flashed back. I remembered the words to songs like “Don’t Fence Me In.”
“I want to ride to the edge where the west commences, and gaze at the moon until I lose my senses.”
If you really want to watch Roy Rogers perform the song, you can here: “Don’t Fence Me In.”
There is something majestic about rugged, unsettled terrain. Even west Texas, which I never liked traveling through, grabbed me.
Between Odessa and El Paso, I drove from rain pocket to rain pocket. None of the storms lasted more than 10 minutes, but I could see them form ahead of me each time. With small mountain ranges on both sides, those small rain formations marching down to the interstate reminded me how little control I have on this earth.
There is something deeply spiritual, and unexplainable, about the geography of the southwest. As I drove through New Mexico and entered Arizona, I watched the sun creep closer and closer to the horizon. It was as if I had to chase it, knowing I would never catch up.
I stopped about 50 minutes away from Tucson to watch the final display, and the sun put on a show. It lingered long enough over the top of a mountain range to paint the entire sky purple, pink, and orange.
I drove on through the night, and I turned southwest to follow I-8 into San Diego, with I-10 heading north to Phoenix. For the next several hours, heat lightning lit up the air periodically to the north. Thousands of stars dotted the sky, and the fatigue I expected to make me stop and rest never came.
I took many pictures, but I can’t replicate what I felt during those 23 and a half hours on the road. The wide, uninhabited spaces, being able to see miles ahead, opened up unused compartments in my soul, and I felt incredibly free. Any personal stagnation I’ve felt recently washed away.
The earth has so many areas that are wild and ungoverned, but there is still order. I was driving right through the middle of seemingly harsh countryside, but my spirit was free.
It has also been a frightening transition for me, even though I believe it’s the right move. I picked up everything and took off for the west coast will little notice. So while I felt scared at times, especially when driving for almost a day straight, I felt at home.
I don’t know quite what to expect in the next year, but I’m excited and ready.
“Let me ride through the wild open country that I love, don’t fence me in.”