In my last post, I talked about our recent trip to Tennessee for a graduation, visits with family, and our experiences riding Amtrak across this beautiful country of ours.  Today I want to share some of what we saw through the windows as the train ran across the tracks, more stories heard on the train, and the importance of family stories.
As we traveled west to east, the landscape keeps the eyes busy.  Looking from side to side in our car, we could see so many and varied sights, it was hard to decide which photos to catch.  Here are a few of the best of our landscape shots through the train windows.  From top left to right, our first full day took us through Glacier Park and here is our first sighting of the Rockies, and then crossing Two Medicine Trestle, rising 215 feet above the river.  On the bottom row, left to right, are images of my attempt to capture a stunning sunset just out of Williston, ND, shooting over my left shoulder.  Lastly, our first sightings of home ground in Tennessee.

But before I forget, we found more amazing stories among our fellow passengers on our return trip:

  • The couple across the aisle was traveling from New York to Oregon to attend a granddaughter’s wedding.  Hearing how they met in Germany, while he was in the service, was a special treat.
  • In front of us sat best friends from high school, two men about our ages who were returning from their annual trip together.  Something they’ve done ever since high school.
  • Over breakfast in the dining car, we met two more men just about our ages, cousins, who take a trip to somewhere each year as well.  Is this a new guy thing?
  • And then the couple who sat behind us traveling home from Montana to California, having made their annual jaunt to visit her family.  Meeting them led to discoveries of commonality in our lives.

Once again, I was reminded of the importance of all our stories, not only in our lives but the impact our stories have on others and theirs on us.

Our first stop as mentioned in my earlier post was for our grandson’s high school graduation. The first day we were together with family there we spent time thinking back over vacation trips when our children were younger and how they compared to vacations for kids today. How times and travel had changed.  The differences in the places we travel.

We, of course, talked about grandson Kory’s plans and college.  And we ate southern food.  Unfortunately, the first night there, thanks to an evil virus, I became so ill I spent the next four days of trip in our hotel room in bed.  I missed graduation, but have photographic memories thanks to grandpa.

From there, we traveled about an hour’s drive to the west to spend some days with our son’s family.  Our son and his wife have a 15-year old son, Michael, who graduates in three years. His intellect is amazing, and he tests off the charts when it comes to IQ.  We have enjoyed hearing of his successes and dreams long distance but now we were there, up close and personal.  We learned so much, and since leaving we’ve heard it was a mutual experience.

Michael, seen in the photo at the right, has his sights on entering Vanderbilt University to pursue a degree in mechanical engineering with an eye on automotive design.  Interestingly, Grandpa Bob’s first job out of art school was for an automotive design firm in Los Angeles.  Bob had photocopied some of his drawings from that time, and he and Michael sat for some time going through them.  Later that evening, as our daughter-in-law told us, Michael sat down and went through the drawings explaining them to her.

The next evening we had to say our goodbyes but not before more sharing of stories, likes and dislikes, and common areas of interest.  In conversation, we determined that neither Grandpa Bob nor Michael liked yogurt, tapioca, and a variety of other things.  They also learned the number of car designs they both think are the “best.”  Smiles abounded in the room, and you could tell Michael was soaking up this family storytelling.

A text message from his mom the next morning told the tale.  Michael went home and told his parents how much fun he had watching Grandpa get excited talking about cars and design, how many things they liked and disliked that were the same, and how it felt good to know he wasn’t such an oddball in the family after all.  At reading this aloud, Grandma cried and Grandpa placed his hand over his heart.

The richness of that time together will hopefully be for all of us a time of remembering, finding ourselves in our stories and the stories of others, and that Michael will some day tell his children these stories, both serious and funny, so that they can be passed on in time to the next generations.

This, dear friends, is our responsibility as the keepers of our stories.  We must not keep them to ourselves — we must share them, whether verbally or by written word.  So, get out there and share!

MY NEXT POST will focus on storytelling and the ways in which we can share our stories, both written and verbal, so that future generations and others will have them to enjoy.  Join me on Wednesday, June 5th.