That’s correct: -6099. As in, 6099 days prior to June 2016; which would be approximately September 1999. It was a couple of years after I got divorced and I was living with some folks in NE Portland. I think for most of us, if we choose to reflect, there are people and moments in time which leave an indelible mark on who we are and eventually become; the main characters and trailer-scenes for the movie that is ones life.
For me, one of those main characters along the way; parts surrogate father, crazy uncle and good friend, was Norm Wyers. In the summer of ‘99 he suggested I join him on a ‘genealogical research trip’. He was going to pick up the tab in exchange for help driving and oh, by the way, we were going to drive right past my Mom’s place in Oklahoma. Nice. Although there was definitely some research that occurred; for me it was more an opportunity to spend some time on the road, see some new things and get to visit my Mom on the cheap. Thanks Norm!
Moments from that trip frequently come up when Norm and I get a chance to visit; the tarantula mass-migration in Arizona/New Mexico (no one ever believes me when I tell that one…but Norm was there, damn-it…he saw it too!), the dude who gave me the keys to his Harley in Colorado, the dobermans, discovering how quickly a little port gets you really hammered in Denver and waking up in Wyoming, the crazy lady in Oklahoma City and the amazing steak dinner in Borger, TX. A week or so ago Norm and I had dinner together and, as I was detailing some of my upcoming road trip, the topic of that trip in ‘99 came up. As I was noting some of the intersections between the two I realized that I had a shoe box full of old pictures from back then; photos that I probably hadn’t looked at in ten years or more. Those stories that hide behind the sticky note markers in the textbooks of our memories; the ones highlighted in yellow and pink for future reference — they have a tendency to change ever so slightly as time goes on. Such can often be the case with oral history and recollection. So I decided it was high time to go back through that box of pictures in my basement. As a wise and upset Rasheed Wallace once said, “Ball Don’t Lie”.
What I discovered when I looked through those photos surprised me. The first thing that hit me was how good old-school film can look. In this age of digital photography and fewer reasons to actually make prints – the depth and richness of printed film really stands out. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t necessarily miss having to pack around rolls of film and send everything in to be developed, but I sure do appreciate the end-result.
Another thing I noticed was how much of that trip that I had either forgotten or didn’t remember having captured on film. And then, I had a bright idea; not exactly earth-shattering but a good one nonetheless. I’m going to try to take some of the same shots on my upcoming trip as I did back in ‘99. It might be interesting to see how things have changed (or not). Finding some of the shots will definitely be easy. I will be going through Rhyolite, NV and will definitely stop to take pictures. I also hope to be having breakfast at the same diner in Beatty, NV after crossing Death Valley. Taos and Amarillo are also on my route. But a few of the shots are a mystery to me — they could be anywhere along I-40 between Flagstaff and OKC; not much to go on.
At any rate…I though it would be neat to do my own little ‘throwback’ before heading out to a similar destination as 17 years ago, although via many different roads and a much different mode of transportation. I intend to compile and share as much as possible as much for my own reflection as for any interest from those watching.