Wednesday, July 7, 2010

road trip 2010

well, my peops, tomorrow i take off for a three-week jaunt through arizona and new mexico.

i could wax poetic and say i'm off to find myself, or to find the west, but neither of those is entirely true.

neither of those things can be found in three weeks, for starters. surely not myself. i've never been a big epiphany person, with startling, life-changing discoveries and realizations. i find that finding myself - whatever that means - tends to happen in small little moments of clarity, that are usually immediately followed up by weeks of befuddlement.

two steps forward, one step back.

and surely not the west, either. it encompasses far too much to be 'found' in three weeks. i've lived here for years, and been thinking about it for years, and still haven't come much closer to knowing it. sometimes thoughts crystallize together or form a chain...only to be driven away by competing ideas, new revolutionary thoughts, or just exhaustion.

two steps forward, one step back.

i've been saying all week, when asked about leaving on thursday, "yep, that's the plan." i keep saying that's the plan instead of yes. partly because i can't really believe i'm going to roll out of here tomorrow. i'm not really prepared and it just seems like something will come up to keep me from going. some child illness, some work crisis, something. i've been on several of these sort of road-warrior trips over the years, so it's not an unfamiliarity preventing me from leaping into commitment. 1991 i spent two weeks driving around with a friend, from oregon to california, nevada, utah, wyoming, montana, canada, and washington. again in 1991 with a friend for 2 weeks: oregon, california, arizona, new mexico. in 1992, alone: all through california for 2 weeks to many national parks. in 1993, again solo: from montana to texas and back. in 1994, again solo: from montana to southern california and back, via utah. in 1994, solo, from oregon to colorado and wyoming. in 1996 from oregon across nevada and back. in 1997 with a friend: from oregon through nevada to new mexico and onto texas and back via montana (no kidding). and then three months and 10,000 miles in 1998, with many friends and a son, from oregon to maine via the southwest and south. with lots of side trips. there's more, but you get the picture.

is there anything more american than the road trip? our country is just designed for it! we've got highways - miles and miles of them. we've got cars - millions and millions of them. we've got cheap gas, wide open spaces, and natural wonders around every corner. the road trip has been the basis for more movies of family hilarity and self-discovery than can be counted. roadways are established to celebrate the scenery, mark important history, encourage tourists to visit ridiculous wide-spot-in-the-road towns with little to recommend them.

god, i'm feeling like an american! i love traveling. i love it. i love it, love it, love it! i love driving alone with the music as loud as i want. i love deciding each day where to go, what to see, where to hike. i love waking up someplace new. i love seeing the desert in summer. i love seeing national parks and monuments. i love stopping in new small towns and wandering around. i love imagining living in all these out of the way places. i am going to be doing a lot of thinking, a lot of reading, a lot of wandering around. i'm going to be living healthy, getting lots of sleep, fresh air, taking my vitamins and flossing my teeth every damn day. hell, maybe even after every meal! what's not to love about the chance to reinvent one's self? for the next three weeks, i'm going to be healthy, relaxed, happy, and have good teeth!

the car is pretty much packed. clothes, gear, food, stove, a box of books, and a box of absolutely essential cds. camera. flashlight.

i won't find the west or myself in just three weeks, but i don't expect to. i just hope to make some progress and remember what that sense of discovery feels like.

maybe take four steps forward, and only only back.


  1. make sure you bring enough floss.

  2. you are my hero. and easily one of my favorite people ever.
    enjoy that solitude and wide open spaces, my friend!