Thomas Paine wrote, “These are the times that try men’s souls … ” That could have very well described my last week. It took all I had and the intervention of my dad and friends to save me from total disaster. Maybe it is fitting I recall Paine as he was an intimate friend of my ancestors. Whatever last week was it is now in the clouds of the past and tomorrow I start my 7200 mile, 3 week journey with my friend @daren140 and his son Louis(12). I meet them at the airport tomorrow evening and we crash at a hotel there before heading out in early morning hours on our journey.
I have intentionally kept the itinerary secret up until now. Our first day is a heavy travel day. In America when you are on the road, it is sometimes just about getting there. That is a bit metaphorical don’t you think? After all, aren’t we all just trying to get “there” wherever and whatever “there” may be? But it is time to share what is on the agenda.
I suspect this is my last major road journey west of the Mississippi. I haven’t had a premonition or anything but just something I seem to have accepted. Sometimes you just know. How many trips have I made? I’ve lost count. It has to be at least 7-8 and more likely a dozen. When I was a kid I remember my dad driving us across country before there was straight across interstate access. In those days you crossed the Rockies on winding two-lane roads while trying to keep from looking down. My dad’s car kept overheating when we got near the California desert. He kept having to get out and pour water into the radiator. There was no AAA to call and no AC to keep you cool.
On one trip I drove 6000 miles in a week and I don’t think I slept more than 2 hours a night that entire trip. I’ve barreled cars non-stop when there was no time to be leisurely and no money to pay for a motel. I’ve been stranded in snowstorms in Gallup and found myself finding shelter on a coffee shop stool next to a candidate for mayor. She lost. Yeah, the road is always taxing but often worth the effort.
Our first stop on day 1 will be a small town in Illinois that use to be a railroad hub and bustling. I know because my ancestors laid the tracks and my grandfather wired the first house in town to have electricity – his mother’s. My last post was about the book “On The Road” and I was surprised to find in there that apparently there was a popular song among workmen and hobos that mentioned this town; Medora, Illinois. I haven’t been to Medora in about a decade. I wonder if there is anything left? Since we drive right near it, I thought I’d show my friends what America looked like not that long ago before we head up to Hannibal, Missouri. I have never been to Hannibal so this is a first for me. I picked this place to see though because we’re on a road trip and the first road trip fiction story in this country was probably Mark Twain’s’ “Tom Sawyer” which starts in Hannibal. You don’t get more American than Mark Twain or more road adventurous than Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. That is just a fact. After that we’re plowing on to South Dakota before calling it a day. And compared to most days on this trip, day 1 is a slow day.