So it's July 5th as I write this and not exactly the middle of the trip, more like the middle plus a couple of weeks, but I've been thinking of doing a post like this for a while. We're in Hatfield, Massachusetts right now and had a nice Fourth of July with a barbecue, corn on the cob and a fireworks show at U. Mass. in Amherst.
Rodney's trip meter has turned past 6,000 miles. I glanced at a map last week thinking about the next leg of the trip as we head to Canada and start West to the Great Lakes and then the northern plains. We are about as far from home as we will get on this trip and the distance is a bit overwhelming. The map browsing included looking over the $$ diary to see how the finances are holding out, and things look good even with some surprise expenses. The lap top hard drive took a dump, a few too expensive motel rooms, and after getting punctures in two air mattresses... some new closed cell foam pads (not to mention meds for mrs. a-go-go). After Chicago our route is rather open and we have to decide when we get there if it's time to run for home or take our time with some national parks and the pacific northwest. Won't know for sure until we get there but it looks like we'll have some time and $$ to spare. From the get go we've had a vague goal of getting home in mid August... six more weeks to go for a total of 14. Yep, we're two weeks past the middle. The actual middle slipped by me about when we crossed from New Jersey to New York. The trip meter will keep rolling higher but our distance from home will get smaller from here on.
So what have we done? what have we gained?
This is only the second trip I've ever taken that has kept me traveling for more than two or three weeks. I suppose any trip this long will eventually make the traveler wonder what they are up to. Why did we do all this, and when can we go home?
It's been exhausting and thrilling all at once. Traveling is hard work and I've really appreciated the chances we've had along the way to nap. We've seen places, towns, cities, parks that I probably would never have planned to visit except on a trip like this. The desert, the forest, the mountains, but our route has been determined more by the people we wished to visit than the places. In so many cases what we saw was second to who we saw.
We left Los Angeles kind of weary of many things in our life and in need of something silly to make things new or to give them a new shine. I think this silly trip has accomplished that (maybe frivolous is the word, I quit the best paying job I've had in the middle of an economic mess and it has been suggested more than a few times that this is foolish... fiddlesticks I say). We knew we'd miss lots of people and familiar places back home but the trip has put a fine point on the missing. We knew the country was huge and that we'd sampled so little of it; the trip has put a VERY fine point on that (is the trip making me eager to travel more or wish for home more? couldn't say). We knew we had to make a leap to find what we want to do with the next 40 years and the trip has put a real polish on that need (more than anything the trip has made me itch to make things... art, cartoons, musical instruments... anything!).
I turned 41 while out here on the continent. Last year the door closed on the possibility of us having children (that is, not to put too fine a point on it, any children that might come out of mrs. a-go-go) and it was part of our excuse for being frivolous. We both have lost relatives in recent years, and life is clearly way too short. We really felt that it was now or never for a trip like this and, heck, why the hell not.
As we head west we dread finding some way to make enough money to keep our heads above water while doing something creative and some place to live that we can afford. Unfortunately, for our finances, we are both sick with the need to be creative. Eh... we'll find something. We won't likely ever be wealthy and we may never own a house, but it's high time we do what we want and spend as much time as we can with the people we love.
Hey, look it's the Big Rock Candy Mountains, right over there!