The road trip is over! A success! Over 5100 miles and thirteen states later, Grace and I made it home after thirteen days on the road.
My record of this journey did not work out like I had planned. I had intended to blog at the end of each day, posting whenever I had WiFi access. I had planned to make more use of Twitter and learn that system.
Neither of those things happened.
It turned out that all of my energy went into driving and interacting with Grace, which was the point of this trip, anyway. Whenever we arrived at the end of the day wherever it was we were going, after setting up housekeeping, all I wanted to do was sleep. I had no energy left for anything more than cursory longhand notes of the day’s events in my notebook.
I did post on Facebook frequently through the trip. Facebook is simply my default social media for off-the-top-of-the-head notes, comments, and observations. Twitter got left in the dust.
I think this lack of writing production on the road will make for a better road trip story in the long run. If I had managed to post every day, it would have been a basic travelogue, telling the bare bones of where we had been and what we had done. That could be an interesting story, but I realized after a few days that there was more to this trip than I had realized.
On Day Five, old CCC friend Mike Rivera replied to a Facebook post by saying, “George, what is this trek across the country about?” I was pressed for time and didn’t feel like repeating the full answer…Grace wanting to see where I grew up, adding a Seattle leg to make the trip more interesting and more epic…so I gave Mike a short smart-ass answer: “Mid-life crisis”. As I drove the rest of the day and thought about it, I realized that my smart-ass answer was closer to the mark than I had realized.
Writer’s manuals tell me that ‘theme’ is an important part of writing. They also tell me that a writer does not always see the theme until after the project is well under way. After the project is under way, then a writer can see the glimpses of theme emerge during the process. Apparently this is true in life, as well. I did not recognize the ‘theme’ of this adventure until it was almost half over.
Grace had asked to see where I grew up. We could have flown to Chicago and done that. It would have been cheaper and quicker. However, she also wants to visit other states. I don’t think flying over them at 30,000 feet counts, so I got the idea for the road trip. I’ve been along the I-80 corridor between Chicago and San Francisco several times, so I added an extra leg to Seattle for three reasons: to visit a dear friend I had not seen in too long, to add more states to Grace’s ‘been there’ list, and to make the trip even more epic.
‘Epic’ was going to be an important part of this trip. I was determined to do something big, dammit!
Right away people thought it was a crazy idea. Some people questioned whether my back would stand up to that kind of a trip without spasm-ing out and incapacitating me. Some people looked at my 1994 Nissan pick-up truck with no AC and questioned whether the truck would make it. People doubted my truck’s reliability when I took it on a camping trip to Colorado in 2002, and it made it through that trip just fine. I had no reason to think it wouldn’t make it through this trip, either.
I had things to prove to other people, but more importantly, I had things to prove to myself…that at fifty years old, I could still plan and execute a big adventure.
There was my theme.
Now I could write.