"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Songs of the Pioneers song from TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon's old-fashioned newspaper column, cross-breeding metaphors and journalism and art, for readers in 150 countries.

Monday, December 12, 2011

A year of journeys

I'm trying to plan a trip to Alaska for us in May, and it's not easy, unless you go to a travel agent and get stuck on one of those gargantuan cattle trucks called cruise ships, and I don't want that.

So planning the trip will be an adventure too, and as I pour over brochures, scan books, contact friends and scour the Internet, I'm aware of the journeys, planned and unplanned, to places know and unknown, that have made this year memorable.

First was a trip to Chennai, India, in February to SRM University for a conference. It was a trip of utterly new sensations, experiences and people.

Then in March, I spent a week aboard the nuclear carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, in the Pacific, thanks to a former student, the Public Affairs officer aboard one of the largest ships in the world, Lt. Cdr. Steve Curry. Much more first time living.

In April I drove to the third Culp cousin reunion at my cousin Sarah Beth Foote's house in East Texas. Ten of us were there--only one barely known was missing--the children of my Mom and her three sisters and two brothers. A journey of mixed emotions of laughter and stories and good times, mixed with the awareness of passing time, and wondering if we'd ever do it again.

May was packed. On Mother's Day, I met my brother Jerry of Lubbock, to spend a boring evening in Wichita Falls before visiting our Mom's grave in Waurika, for an emotional trip into memories. In mid-May, Susan and I went to Florida and Savannah and soaked up southern food and comfort and history.

On Memorial Day, I visited grandkids Erin, Abby and Max and daughter Dallas and son-in-law Todd  in Amarillo and then on to Walsenburg to  my last uncle, Mike, in the veterans home. A happy,  and sobering trip, where the adventures are mental and emotional.

On the Fourth of July, I flew to California to spend time with my son Vance, his wife Kerin, and granddaughters Katherine, Sarah, and to see the new baby, Neysa, for the first time. Emotional for sure, but also the adventures of touring Vandenburg AFB where they launch satellites.

There were summer  trips on Oklahoma's back roads, including US 66, taking photos, exploring, and visiting friends at newspapers, and to Guthrie to show artwork there. There was a whirlwind trip to Vales Grande in New Mexico on roads I hadn't driven  before in early August--not much, but it helped satisfy a New Mexico attack.

In October, we celebrated anniversary in Kansas City, and spent full days in Columbia, Mo., with son Derrick, daughter-in-law Naomi, and granddaughter Liberty Faye.

Then in late October, a different journey began, when I received a phone call at night about the death of my uncle Mike. That journey isn't over yet for me, even though a resulting journey was burying him in the National Cemetery at Santa Fe, across from where he lived for-30 plus years. It was only my second trip to beloved New Mexico since a year ago when I had to move him out of that apartment that had become a second home to me in the last 10 years. I've traveled many places and miles in my mind as a result.

Those are the out-of-town trips, not counting getting artwork in Adelante Gallery in Paseo and multiple trips to the frame shop and studio. Nor around town to visit in-laws, go out to eat, visit many museums, attend the press convention, go "boothing" with friends and colleagues,  attend parties, travel over chess boards,  move brushes over blank paper and words on blank computer screens, and at Thanksgiving, tour the city with myAmarillo grandkids.

Then two days ago, my oldest cousin, Charles Rogers Lutrick, died in Beaumont, beginning a new journey for him and for those who love him. His funeral is tomorrow, and while Jerry and I are too far away to make it, his passing sets us off on another mental and somber journey contemplating passing life, a passing year and passing time.

It's been a good year--I've seen all my children and grandchildren, spent time with cousins and friends and colleagues, and faced mortality.

Although I'm trying to plan the Alaska trip, and also renewed my passport last month, I'm very aware that I really have no idea what the journeys will be this coming year, nor what kind of journeys they might be. I do know that Charles and Mike make me focus on my own journey, every day.

Charles Rogers Lutrick
Aug. 29, 1930
Dec. 10, 2011

Terry M. Clark
Jan. 5, 1944

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