Finding a way in

We’ve been here a week and done nearly a thousand miles. Seen mountains, forests, roaring gorges, foaming rapids and finally Niagara. The weather’s been kind with warm days and cool nights. It is just as everyone told me it would be. The sights are breathtaking, stunning, the dreaded word ‘awesome’ – the adjectives have been used already.

Bill Bryson wrote of a road trip he did with his family to show them his native land. After a week or so they became immune to the glory of it all, he began commenting, “Natural beauty on your left..” I am not immune to it, but like Mr Bryson and many English I like my pleasures small.

I have seen a chipmunk – sweet, but tiny, I thought from the Alvin cartoon they’d be bigger. Also a groundhog on the side of the road, I was driving the RV for the first (and only time) and nearly drove off the Skyline Driveway. And at last after many signs promising deer leaping across the road one actually did, and I saw it join its family on the other side.

Another modest joy. We were at a shopping outlet and eating a hefty pizza when I saw an Amish man stroll by. He looked just like the one in Witness who comes walking over the hill to woo the girl after Harrison Ford leaves town: straw hat, plain clothes, pudding basin haircut, the lot. It unsettled my notion of how Amish carry on to see him at the mall, but I suppose we all like a bargain.

Niagara was awesome. We did all the tourist things: Cave of the Winds, Maid of the Mist and ate a desiccated hot dog, but my most striking memory will be of a Muslim family with their prayer mats and picnic at sundown.

And of course I love it that people seem to have swallowed a courtesy pill but they do remind me of the tired airhostess Barbie at the end of Toy Story. It’s the woman who returned my 75c when I topped up her dryer at the campsite by mistake who showed real consideration.  I nearly fried her laundry and left mine soaking wet. One question though. Why in this glorious climate tumble dry at all?

I suppose I need a way in to the immensity of it all. I find the hugeness unsettling. I realize just how small and domestic my world is. Time and again I think of those pioneers who came and decided to ‘tame’ the land. Oh my word, the sheer guts and hubris of it. Perhaps they were desperate, after all there was no going back. All that land-clearing and bridge-building and not knowing how friendly or hostile the many elements of the land would be. Now that was literally breath-taking.

In all their endeavours, in the struggle to make a way into this continent how they must have ached for a friend, a dog even. And, if they were domestically minded, somewhere to hang their washing.