“The journey is the thing…” ~ Homer
Early on in my trekking across the country I spent time in Idaho visiting my aunt and uncle in Nampa, Idaho. While I was there my aunt pulled out a big box of pictures and memorabilia to show me more of my family history from my father’s side. I learned a lot that day and decided to drive up to Hailey to explore the remote area where my father was born. Actually, I think I was trying to learn more about my paternal grandfather. He died young (and was mean, I’m told).
I drove up above Hailey into a steep, deep canyon in search of the old mine site where my grandmother gave birth to my father. At first I had a hard time locating it, and drove my Camry up a narrow, precipitous dirt road until I couldn’t drive anymore. I looked in the rearview mirror to see a man walking up the road behind me, head down, concentrating. He was big and dark. His hair was long. I remember chewing on the inside of my cheek wondering what was about to happen. (It’s just a nervous habit I have…)
When he reached my car, he stopped at my window and said “Well, … yer a long way from home.”
I told him that I was looking for the mine site where my father was born. He knew exactly what I was talking about. He pointed back down the hill and further up the canyon, telling me what I needed to look for. As he pointed, for the first time I saw his forearm, muscled and strong and inked with a phenomenal eagle tattoo, and feather. He was native, but we didn’t have that conversation. He told me to listen to him carefully and follow his directions to get my car unstuck and head back down the hill. I had to follow his instructions, or I would have rolled my Camry right down into the bowels of that gully.
And then he was gone…