In my last post, I mentioned that I’ve been taking stock of my life these days, and had been all introspective as of late. And that I’d come to some revelations. This is true; the biggest one being: my life is dull.
It hasn’t always been this way. As a child, I had many adventures. I’ve been to lots of places and seen plenty of interesting sights. I feel fortunate to have experienced so much, even if the nomadic lifestyle of a military brat wasn’t exactly my cup of tea. When I grew up, I settled down. The only problem is, I seem to have overcompensated, because I never go anywhere. Big, that is. I get out and explore Portland and the Columbia Gorge all the time. I’ll occasionally travel up to Seattle or out to Bend. A couple of years ago I drove down to Fresno for a wedding. But I haven’t gone anywhere really far, or truly fun, in ages. Meanwhile my friends are always jetting off to faraway destinations; my brother’s been to Kauai; even my kids managed a trip to Florida earlier this year, and I haven’t been on an airplane in ten years. I’m not really the flying type, but I have had a desire to hop in my car and set out on a road trip for years now. I could just never figure out how or when to do it: work always got in the way, and having the kids every other week meant I wouldn’t have enough time to do it properly.
And then, quite suddenly, a rare confluence of events presented me with a unique opportunity. The kids are leaving early next week for a trip to Disneyland with their mom (see?!) and will be back two days later than they normally would, giving me twelve days alone. When I learned of this, the wheels started turning (figuratively – inside my head, as opposed to literally – on the open road). It seemed to me that all the stars were aligning: my unemployment, as irritating as it is, means I have no boss to report to, no deadlines to meet, no vacation time to worry about accruing; and with the kids gone, I’d have enough time to take a halfway decent trip. Money, of course, is an issue, but I recently made a move that gives me a lot of breathing space and frees up some important funds. I figured life is short and you only live once, and I’d hate to end up on my deathbed full of regrets over adventures never taken. So, I began playing around with Google Maps, plotting out various trips and different routes, before deciding where to go. I finally settled on a destination, and this is it:
I wrote about my years in Ohio earlier in the week. How happy I was there, and how much I loved it. Super 8 made me all sorts of nostalgic, and so I decided on a trip that would take me through two places where I grew up: Rapid City, South Dakota (1983-1986) and Fairborn, Ohio. I first checked out Google Earth to see if the house is still standing – it’s been 31 years, after all – and while the neighborhood does seem to have changed a bit, it also looks remarkably the same (from a satellite, of course). The house is still there. So, it will be the ending point on my journey. I’ll be working my way back to youth, babe. Revisiting some of the most important places from my childhood. Who says you can never go home again?
I’m both excited and nervous. This is going to be a big adventure for me! Seeing different parts of the country – the great plains, the midwest – feels so novel to me, as I’ve grown used to the beautiful but somewhat staid Pacific Northwest. I’ll be passing through many states: Idaho, Montana, Wyoming South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Missouri, Nebraska and Colorado. That’s 24% of the U.S. right there. I’ll get to see places I haven’t been to in a quarter-century (Mount Rushmore, the Badlands) or longer (Dayton, Ohio). And I’ll experience new sights: I’ve never been to either Idaho or Iowa. I’ll drive and drive and drive and listen to really good music and stop by interesting roadside attractions and stay in cheap motels and have adventures and blog about them from the road and take a million and one pictures. I’m nervous because I’m doing this on my own, but I’ve always been the type to get out and do things by myself anyway. America’s highways and byways, its ever-changing landscape and variable weather, will be all the company I need.
I always compare myself to Clark Griswold, and let’s face it, he is the ultimate road-tripper. I’ll be getting my Griswold on, so to speak, and in the end, curing this wanderlust that has gripped my very soul for years now.
Five more days, and I am outta here!