Click for larger imageThe cliché holds a picture is worth a thousand words.  And yet, even the most carefully framed photograph or the most eloquent paragraph may fail in conveying the essence of a moment or place.  Certain moments serve only to illustrate the boundaries of silver gelatin and the constraints of language.  These moments cannot be captured or recalled, they must be experienced. 

Imagine someone hands you a pencil and asks you to draw the face of your lover on a napkin.  No matter how talented you may be, in the end you are left with graphite and tissue.  The substance of the person, that quality which transcends the exterior and elevates a person to the status of loved - this translates poorly to concrete media.
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I suspect this is the greatest failing of religion:  by continually attempting to describe and depict God, we stop experiencing God.  Perhaps the mythical Adam and Eve sinned not by eating the apple, but by gaining knowledge – meaning language – and starting to comprehend rather than experience. 

I drove north from Idaho Falls to Yellowstone National Park today.  It is a place of such great beauty that it would be impossible – perhaps unwise – to attempt to describe it in any reasonable detail.  Standing in the center of this vast place, a photograph can contain only a fraction of the entirety.  If the cliché holds true, then I would need volumes to fill in the blanks between photographs.
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Today I stood on the edge of crevices that descend to the deepest reaches of the planet and spew forth water and sulfur.  I watched bison calves play tag with mature animals so close to me that I could have touched them.  I saw sides of mountains dissolving from natural sulfuric acid and canyons cut by swollen rivers. I saw the places where the world has ripped open and settled back on itself yet again.  It was beauty so overwhelming that I wanted in the same moment to both run away and stay until my time expired. 

Now, the sun is settling behind the ridge of mountains and I am in Gardiner, Montana, a tiny town of a hundred buildings clinging to the side of a canyon above the Yellowstone River.  Mobile telephones don’t work here, the brick theatre is smaller than most convenience stores and only open on Fridays and Saturdays, the café serves amazing food at a pace which reminds you no one is going anywhere anytime soon. 
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In a few minutes, I will choose a few photographs from today, paste them with this text, and leave them as an appetizer for anyone wise enough to come here and experience this firsthand.  Then, I will place a telephone call to someone a thousand miles away and say goodnight.

Tomorrow – onward to Billings, Montana…
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Road Trip 2003 Statistics
Day Number
6 - June 5th
Yellowstone Park
Miles to date
Funds Raised
Guess odometer readings, win a valuable prizes.  [More]
Help Sister Betty raise money for some nifty charities...[More]
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Road Trip 2003 Email Newsletter

The Plan - Road Trip 2003
It’s time for a road trip - a really, really big-ass road trip...[More]
The Route - Road Trip 2003
San Francisco to Maine, twenty two states, two countries and 8,000 miles...[More]
The Vehicle - Road Trip 2003
An itty, bitty car with just enough space for a suitcase, GPS unit and...[More]
Road Trip 2003 Captain and Crew
Who would be crazy enough to drive 8,000 miles in a really small car...[More]
Join in - Road Trip 2003
Read along, ride along or follow along...[More]


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