Complaints about my shortcomings make me cringe. As a blogger I live in fear of having my readers complain about my writing, the subject matter, the style, the focus I bring to the piece. I live in fear of hearing complaints that I write too many blog entries. But today’s flattering complaint arose because I haven’t written enough.
When we struck out for points east, I intended to write a blog every day or so. I held on to that promise for one entry and then found that each evening I was tired, hot, hungry, too overwhelmed by the beauty of the landscape, the profundity of the moment, the miles, miles, miles we logged in our journey from Capitol Reef through Cortez, Amarillo, and on to Dallas and a screening of our documentary film, BRAVO! to the Vietnam Veterans of America. From Dallas down to Brownwood, Texas, and another screening of our film, then to Mt. Pleasant, Texas, and now to Bentonville, Arkansas, for an afternoon tour of Pea Ridge, as well as a morning viewing of the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.
So I have been truant, I suppose, and owe my regular readers an apology and a blog. So…here goes a whirlwind:
We left the Capitol Reef country of south central Utah and motored east through ragged red canyons that zigged and zagged through juniper and piñon barrancas that drained down into the deep meanderings of the Colorado River. We went on to Ute country and Four Corners where I did pushups with one limb in each state. Then into Cortez, Colorado, where we managed a half day inspecting the Anasazi ruins at Mesa Verde.
We were joined by Germans and Italians and Australian bikers as we walked among the ruined walls tucked in beneath the russet overhangs of the mesa tops. Betty and I discussed the doorways, how the thresholds were so high off the floors and the lintels made so that passers-through would need to crouch to avoid banging their heads and we philosophized on that: small inhabitants, a way to keep the weather out. I thought maybe it had to do with war…I have a tendency to do that…and forcing one to ball up, knees to chest, might make it easier to conk an intruder on the head, or hack at his neck, or stab his gut with a spear.
From Cortez over to Amarillo and breakfast with fellow Khe Sanh veteran Mac McNeely and his wife Charlotte before heading for Dallas. Showing the film to the VVA’s leadership conference in Dallas, meeting some wonderful people, having dinner with Gregg and Ali Jones. Gregg is the author of Honor in the Dust, a riveting narrative of America’s involvement in the Philippines at the beginning of the last century. Dallas was hot and muggy and snarled with traffic.
From Dallas we went southwest to Brownwood, almost dead in the middle of Texas. Hilly and snagged with old mesquite, live oak and cottonwoods, the terrain looked thirsty, the bugs all whining in high-pitched voices, singing the song of drought. We screened the film again to an enthusiastic group of fifty at Howard Payne University, hosted by our friends Mary and Roger Engle. You can read more about our Texas screenings here. We met some interesting veterans in Brownwood, including a correspondent who shot photos and film footage during the siege.
From Brownwood we headed northeast, cut across the southeast corner of Oklahoma looking for my paternal roots. The country was wild with trees and creeks and winding highways. Clouds sulled on the horizon, begging for the chance to show us fiery skirts of lightning. And they did, sending blinding slashes and boisterous thunder that rattled the glass in the buildings.
Today at Bentonville, we visited Walmart’s Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and looked at Hopper and O’Keefe and Pollack and Homer, to name a few. We toured Pea Ridge, a battlefield from 1862 in the Civil War. Twenty-seven-thousand men fought in that battle, in wooded thickets, on craggy ridges, on broad fields, the largest battle west of the Mississippi River and one that crystallized the strategic and political positions for the balance of the war years.
Tomorrow we head to Memphis and Shiloh and another screening of BRAVO! before we journey on to Washington, DC.
I promise that Betty or I will blog on a more frequent basis as we motor into our futures. Well…maybe.