So that just happened. Dad and I left the interstate for US 30, the nation’s first coast to coast highway, which his grandfather helped to build. I saw a cool rusted train stop, so hurriedly pulled over under an overpass. As I walked back toward my desired shot, I noticed a giant swirl, a cacophony of brightly colored barn swallows overhead. Just high enough to not be hit. It was delightful, and I was giddy. Then I noticed hundreds of swallows nests built into the overpass. …Swallows make their nests by carrying mud in their beaks. One nest likely lasts through generations of swallows.
As I stood in glee, a slow moving man on a bicycle with a handmade trailer approached. Deeply tanned, ginger sun-kissed hair and ultra long beard, wearing a tattered straw hat tied to his chin with a blue nylon stretch of rope, I began taking photos and he stopped to talk about the swallows. His name was Jacob. He seemed to be about 25. With a great smile and bright blue eyes he told us he was traveling east, probably to somewhere crazy like NYC. He had started in the West, and had already been traveling for two years. Spent several months in total wilderness. He said it was a philosophical journey, an escape from the ills of society. But, after so much solitude he figures he won’t find his answers without being in society. I asked what he carried in his trailer. A tent, a Coleman stove, and tools.
We invited Jacob to stop by if he ever reached NJ. As we parted ways, my dad said “you’re heading west you know…” and Jacob smiles and told us he’d come off the bridge to talk to us about our travels, and the swallows. He was a mile away.
We parted ways, and we found a coyote jawbone which I bagged up for my collection. We drove through the pastures into the sand hills, and when we got into Sutherland, I felt I was in a time warp in the twilight zone. I took so many photos. People in this town knew my dad’s grandparents. We stopped in the middle of main street, and chatted through the van window with an 87 year old lifelong resident.
What a weird and wonderful day.