It was the fall of 2007. We had been married a year and a half. I was newly pregnant with Charissa and was just starting to develop a teensy belly to prove it. After Doug's graduation from Sangre de Cristo Seminary, we decided to take a "babymoon" of sorts and see part of the country. And so, after rigging his pickup topper to hold a small mattress, we left our small Colorado town and headed north.
We saw the plains of Wyoming. The first night, we parked a rocks throw from a train track. We didn't see the track in the darkness and were wrenched from a deep sleep by the train's blaring horn at 2am.
We saw the Tetons in their jagged majesty. There, a mama moose and her twins stood in the river and watched us solemnly as we took their picture.
We drove to Yellowstone and spent two nights. Oh to describe Yellowstone! Getting drenched by the water of a geyser. Watching the wolves play with their pups. The utter stillness of an autumn lake and hearing the insane laugh of a loon. Seeing a photographer run for his life from a bull buffalo. The variety in topography. The unearthly water activity. Stunning waterfalls. The ridiculous tourists running with their cameras after coyotes while yelling "wolf! wolf!" (Yes, I know I was a tourist too...)
We have decided when the kids are gone, we are buying a 5th wheel and somehow becoming camp hosts at one of Yellowstone's parks. Simply amazing.
But we weren't done.
We continued north through Montana. The dense forests. Lush mountain passes where there didn't seem to be enough room for the road and the river. And oh, the mountains! So many, many mountains!
We saw Glacier National Park. The crystalline lakes made of pure glacial melt. We drove the Highway to the Sun.. We saw glaciers! (which really only looked like patches of snow. But hey, they were glaciers!). We camped between two huge mountains with the mountain goats foraging high above our heads.
I kept praying to see a grizzly during the day and then prayed fervently NOT to see a grizzly at night.
We walked a few feet into Canada but did not think giving up a grandfather's hand gun (to be destroyed) worth the day trip we had hoped to take into Canada.
Some other day, Canada.
Then we went West and into Idaho. Green, glorious Idaho. The land of Sacajawea, Lewis and Clark , the land of the hydroelectric plant, the land of potatoes. We camped here too, and watched the water birds dive.
And we went south, back into Montana, through the Bitteroot Valley, up through Lolo Pass and to Idaho again.
We were driving into southern Idaho and I was looking at the pictures we had taken. Then I realized: our most recent pictures from Salmon, Idaho were gone. Just gone. And so I turned off the camera.
We came to the potato part of Idaho. I decided to check the pictures to see if they had magically returned. And I did.
And all 600 or so pictures including Doug's graduation were gone. Gone. Gone.
Apparently, the memory card I had purchased for our voyage had to much memory and was not compatible with our camera. And so instead of the camera telling us to stop taking pictures, it had scrambled them.
We did everything we could to salvage those pictures, but nothing is there. We have the little disk in its plastic case as a sort of morbid souvenir.
Perhaps some day we will retrace our trip. Make some new memories and take new pictures.
But the old pictures are still in my head.
I think they are far more beautiful there.