My writing was lagging behind even though the miles were adding up. I drove across Wyoming in a day, stopping by a few places along the way before crossing the path of a grizzly near Moran, at midnight. I remember reading the sign and thinking it read “moron” because that is exactly what I would have felt like had the truck broken down with a brown bear next to the side of the road.
The southern entrance to Yellowstone National Park was closed so I ventured into Jackson and found a hotel for the rest of the night. "No vacancy" meant crawling into the extended cab and going to sleep in a sleeping bag, despite the cold.
I spent the following morning stopping by the Visitor Center and asking questions about Yellowstone. As I had seen the night before, the snows had the southern entrance closed, but not the northern entrance. After driving around the town a bit and thinking about it, I finally decided to strikeout north through Idaho and into Montana, stopping by West Yellowstone, Montana, hoping to enter the Yellowstone National Park west entrance (which was also closed) where I watched a movie at a theater about the park. Afterward, I drove through Bozeman, Montana, eventually ending up in Gardiner in a hotel by the Yellowstone River.
The following day I toured a few hot springs (about the only area open) and then learned that the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument wasn’t that far away. The problem was that I didn’t just stop there.
Devils Tower National Monument didn’t seem that far, either, so I traveled further east. Then I noticed Mount Rushmore National Memorial and the Crazy Horse Memorial didn’t seem that far, so I traveled there, too. My mind was ablaze with the possibilities of the places I could go.
Words were suddenly beginning to fill pages, Pyne’s horizons were expanding, and checkmarks were being filled on my life’s bucket list. I slept in my truck when I felt like it and then traveled on. It seemed like I could go anywhere I wanted. I even bought a pass to the National Parks and decided I was going to tour every single park that I could.
But something was wrong with all of this. I had diverted from my goal. The Rockies were no longer before me; they were distantly in my rear view mirror. I am not sure that I realized just how far from the path I was diverting.
A reality about setting a goal is that the goal in and of itself is never enough; you still have to find a way to achieve it. The key to achieving a goal is patience, persistence, and always knowing your heading. There will always be temptations leading to diversions in life, even lessons within them, but make sure your ultimate goal remains in front of you and is not left in the rear view mirror, unachieved.
I had to return to the Rockies or risk losing direction the rest of my life.