Tag Archive 'America'

Jun 20 2022

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On the Road

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I just returned home from 5 weeks on the road. A writer friend died suddenly last year so I decided it was time to see as many others as possible before anyone else slipped away forever. Some of them are roughly my age; others are in their 70s and 80s. Some of them I hadn’t seen in decades; others I had not yet met. It was time to stop saying “maybe someday.”

As I planned the trip, the list grew. I added family and a few non-literary friends to my itinerary – those I hadn’t seen since before Covid, who lived at least 500 miles away. There were 20 people on the list by the time I departed. So I knew from the outset that it was going to be a whirlwind tour.

I rented a nearly new car and drove it from Vermont to Florida, then to Ohio, Michigan, Minnesota, and Missouri, then to Colorado, New Mexico and all the way to California. I turned in the rental at the LA airport then flew home completely exhausted. I put 7,600 miles on the car’s odometer. I saw a good part of America – its land and its people. It’s going to take me a while to process it all.

There are two things I can say for certain, though: everyone is living life the best they can, despite the pandemic and everything else, and this country of ours is a remarkable place. It has changed since the last time I traveled into the deep south or far west 40 years ago. The cities are bigger, the climate is more severe (especially out west), and the people are more diverse. Yet the landscape is as beautiful as it has ever been, and most people are surprisingly friendly.

There were challenges, of course. Constant Covid testing and mask wearing, skyrocketing gas prices, a shortage of workers causing all sorts of problems, homicidal drivers on the highways, intense heat, and wildfires out west – the trip was not a cheap or easy one. But it was well worth it.

It was worth it just to hug those I hadn’t seen in years and to meet longstanding literary friends for the very first time. People are important, and that’s something that a solitary, woods-wandering guy like me needs to remember. All the same, it feels good be back on home turf with my life partner Judy. Being away from her was the only real hardship. The rest was an adventure.

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