No road should be named “Deadfall.”
And if a man comes across a road named “Deadfall,” he should not go down it on a bicycle. It just sounds like the scene of a very dreary act of suicide.
I never take my own advice. Deadfall is a road near my parents’ home – and I ride it almost weekly. It’s not so bad.
Dad and I rode it this afternoon. He hadn’t ridden in several months (it’s winter and I’m crazy – that’s the only reason I’ve been slightly active on the bike), so we expected Deadfall to be even more lifeless than usual.
“Let’s do Yellowstone this year,” I said as we began to slow for a stop sign. He didn’t answer, so I repeated myself.
He just laughed. And offered a multitude of reasons it isn’t in the cards, the majority of which involved money. It would be an expensive trip if we did it the way it needs to be done.
DAD CAME UP with the Yellowstone plan when I was in college. I can’t remember if it was before or after my daughter was born, but I know he used it as a motivator when one of us needed one. He used to write me letters, like a soldier, filling me in on the happenings at home. As happenings at home often go, they weren’t always cheerful letters.
“Well, your grandma’s sick, the cat died and your mother’s a pain in my ass. I’m still looking forward to Yellowstone in 2012.”
Or he’d just write “Yellowstone 2012” below his signature.
I came to see the trip – one where we’d buy a bunch of saddle bags, handlebar bags and possibly trailers for our mountain bikes, which we’d load with camping gear, trail maps and probably beer in order to travel the trails and sleep under the stars for a few weeks – as something he really wanted to do. As time with my daughter passed and friends and relatives began to die (this never seemed to happen until I turned 20), I came to respect the fragility of life.
I’ve forgotten a lot of things in my days, broken more promises than I can count and blown off as much as I’ve carried out, but “Yellowstone 2012” hasn’t left my head. Life is downright fragile.
It should be apparent by now that Yellowstone did not happen in 2012. Literally nothing in my life has happened according to plan since college – so it’s really no shock that I haven’t encountered a “good” time to make that trip. Hell, I’ve got excellent friends in Philadelphia, Raleigh, Florida, Indiana and New York I’m probably welcome to visit any time, but none of those times have been “good” times to this point.
There is always something that keeps a time from being a “good” time.
SO I FELT THE MILES turn into moments as I pedaled the contours of Deadfall road. They seemed independent of each other – as fragments joining to make a single journey. Some fragments were uphill; some were downhill. Some were windy; some were calm.
I think they all were saying the same, beautiful thing.
My dad, exhausted and more worried about not fainting than anything, may or may not have been breaking our time on Deadfall into little pieces – small moments, if you will. It is unknown to me if we will ever get to share fragments of time in Yellowstone.
But I know it was the thought of Yellowstone 2012 that taught me to fragment moments, cherish them and listen to what they have to say.