Driving Towards The Sunset
p r o l o g u e

January 17, 2001- I am a retired dentist. I live a quiet and happy life in Woodstock, New York with my wife Abby, our 19-year old son Noah, our 7-year old son, Justin and our 6-month old black miniature poodle, Fuzzy Mouse. When friends from California came to visit a year ago, they suggested a reciprocal visit to their home. Abby remarked that it was unlikely due to the fact that she hates to fly. I thought further discussion about a cross-country trip was over, and being the homebody that I am, I breathed a sigh of relief. Then, our friends flippantly suggested that we buy an RV and drive to the west coast. Abby's eyes lit up. I knew I was in trouble. It was the same look in her eyes more than 8 years ago, when she told me she wanted to adopt a baby from Russia, hence Alosha, now known as Justin. It was the same look in her eyes in July of 1995, when she suggested that we just go "check out" some houses in Woodstock on our way to a vacation in Montreal. Four months later we moved here. That afternoon, in July of 2000, we began a month-long quest to learn about, shop for and purchase a Ford Expedition and a 31-foot trailer we named "Francis."

Thus began a journal whose title became, Travels With Francis: As Long as I Don't have to Back Up the Trailer. It recounts the adventures and misadventures of my family during our three-month, cross-country trip in the winter of 2001. The manuscript was written, often in great detail, about the main and back roads we traveled, the historic and majestic sites we visited, the sometimes strange, often times beautiful and extraordinary people we met, the exciting experiences and deeply spiritual moments we shared, the surprises, disappointments and challenges that we encountered, and even the items we purchased and the meals that we ate.

During our self- described "trip of a lifetime," from January 17, 2001 to April 20, 2001, we drove from Woodstock, down the east coast to Key West, Florida, then north again and west through the Florida panhandle, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and Nevada, visited our friends (the ones that started this whole thing) in California and then returned east on a different route home. We stayed overnight in parking lots, trailer parks or homes of friends and relatives, and for as long as a week at a time in RV resorts, motels and time-shares. We were blessed to be able to gaze at, explore and visit many beautiful places, but we were especially stunned by the spectacular sunsets we witnessed. In tribute to those sunsets, I have named this book, "Driving Towards the Sunset."

During the three months, in addition to the more than a hundred pages of manuscript still being edited, I wrote nearly twenty-five poems and took more than 1300 digital photographs, some of which are also included in this book. The poetry, though sometimes not chronologically presented, does follow our route from east to west and gives the reader a sense of both the physical and the spiritual journey that we took.

I want to thank and dedicate this book to my sons, Noah and Justin, and my wife and editor, Abby. I love you all.

Driving Towards The Sunset

A Journey Begins With The First Within

It's Red Dirt This And Red Dirt That

Fort Wilderness Is Anything But Wilderness

Key West Sunset

Su Young Ef Hoya (Little Left-Handed Hunter)

Driving Towards The Sunset

The road to the Mesas undulates with color.
The sun melts into the San Francisco Peaks,
dances on the Painted Desert.

Spectacular words in a poem can never encapsulate
this explosion of iridescent reds and oranges,
vibrant splashes of yellows and purples that
splatter against a blue, black and white-clouded horizon.

The sunset seems to have a life of its own.
I want to possess this moment of time.
But, it is there for the heart to savor
for only an instant.

A Journey Begins With The First Step Within

I am inspired by my journey
of a thousand steps within.
Beginning with the first step,
my child's voice awakening.

Nature overwhelms, yet embraces.
In a measureless confrontation of elements,
animated fleecy clouds,
spiky cogs and puffs of light,
illuminate the blinding surface of
emerald bays and indigo lakes.

Gathering pines, silent sentinels standing guard
over the parched parquet of desert floor,
surrounded by brooding sandstone cliffs,
are nourished by a swath of sifted-twisted light.

I immerse in the relentless snare drum pulse
of restless ocean hum,
ascending rush of wings,
into the silver lining of an unblinking sky.

Pristine messengers graze on folded crevices,
over placid foothills of massive purple altars.
Lilting lilac clouds yawn skyward
over the garb of velvet mountain thrones.

The border between lifting earthbound bluffs
and spilling light spectrum of sky is indistinguishable.
The connection of non-selective thoughtlessness
to arbitrary destruction of nature is undeniable.

Returning from my journey
of a thousand steps within,
I surrender to the knowledge
gained by living God's scheme.

It's Red Dirt This And Red Dirt That

I have yet to touch or feel
the "spirituality" of Sedona.
self-named energy vortex,
a western movie set,
plopped in the valley of
consecrated cathedrals,
sheared crimson stone.

Green goblins have prostituted landscapes.
Savage developers have embezzled
blood from the rocks,
raped Snoopy's innocent inner-child,
ravaged spectacular desert horizons
with cloned strip mall mentality.

Magnetic crystalline energy is pilfered.
Electric/telephone wires,
strung like Christmas lights
across scarlet buttes and mesas
surround Oak Creek Canyon,
where eroded red silt floods Dry Creek.

Uptown is a rubber tomahawk.
The storefronts appear unique.
But, within shops,
the non-distinct cigar store Indian,
Boomtown Western motif,
humiliates the natives.

I've yet to meet sincere human beings,
locals with smiles,
clerks with good attitudes.
Even t-shirts are dyed
in robbed red dirt.
At night you could be anywhere.

Fort Wilderness Is Anything But Wilderness

Men in coonskin caps
greet you at the gates.
Disney's RV campground
sanitizes the outdoor experience,
whitewashes pioneer spirit,
insults camping "au natural".

60 feet of Class A bus,
50 feet of truck and trailer,
snake through an obstacle course of 
narrow roads lined by grapefruit trees,
white picket fences, sunken garbage pails,
wooden plaques and license plates from every state.

Entertainment is watching Moby Dick
back into Beetle-sized cement space #1919.
All sites have electric, sewer, water, cable, phone hook-ups,
and a pole holding plastic bags
to put your dog shit in.
You have to bring your own satellite dish.

Guests zip and zoom in golf carts.
Cell Phones roam in every ear.
Laptops pay the monthly bills.
Salamanders and armadillos scoot
noses in dirt,
oblivious to humans,
who wait for the Chip n' Dale bus,
which takes them to Pioneer Lodge,
to catch the paddle-wheel ferry
across the man-made lake
to The Magic Kingdom,
"to infinity and beyond."

Key West Sunset

My salty hair crinkled
as I combed away the knots.
Seagulls burst into the sky.
My son hovered over the sand,
a hummingbird on a treasure hunt.

Key West clouds split the sun in half,
sprayed the sunset with yellow streaks,
pink volcanic ash and orange laser wisps.
Gray bearded, warm beer-breath Hemingway clones,
mumbled how the ocean swallowed the sun
differently every day.

It cost $100 to watch the scene from a catamaran
and $45 from a glass bottom boat.
Getting there with a cigar in your lips
and a drink in your hand was expensive.
The sunset was free.

Su Young Ef Hoya (Little Left-Handed Hunter)

A white man can never be Hopi,
yet, can catch Hopi drum/flute fever.
Incurable disease of the rhythm of the heart
snake dances under your skin,
spreads spider web threads
through your soul.

We watch our sons climb cliffs,
above scattered pottery shards and petroglyphs.
The wren visits for the fourth time,
guides us on secret trails
back a thousand years in time
to the edge of the Second Mesa.

We twist and turn,
spin through snow and mud,
on a journey to sacred sites
where the sides of clouds are visible,
wind causes corpuscles to whistle,
sun and moon live and breathe in fire-painted skies.

Little left-handed hunter stands
among ancestral rock and feather altars,
where he too will be buried.
Proud to be Hopi,
body gently curved into fetal position,
he will return what he has taken from the land.