This basic question comes weighted with all kinds of new meanings now. Unspoken components may include:
“Did you feel safe?”
“Should you really have been traveling?”
“Can I think about traveling?”
“Nice to be you.”
Acknowledging that weight, here’s all I want to say about my recent flight across the country to see my octo- and nonagenarian parents, whom I hadn’t seen in 14 months: I kept that trip as SIMPLE as I could.
S is for Spring–meaning fully-leafed, eye-poppingly green spring, a season I’ve not been able to enjoy in my home state for decades, due to work. (The Mate’s and my annual Road Trip pilgrimages bring us to NC in March, when leaves are still in their cute baby phases.) I soaked up May like a thirsty sponge.
I is for In-depth. As in, this trip was for FAMILY ONLY, but really in-depth. Days were for walking in Duke Forest, playing with doggies, feeding the various critters (horses, goat, donkey, chickens, guinea hens, barn cat…), cooking, eating, and sharing family stories.
M is for Martha, or Mom. She’s about to turn 86, and is very excited to try and set a new age-group record for the 1,500m at this summer’s Masters Nationals.
P is for Peter, or Pa–nah, let’s just say Peter. (He might accept “Pater”–the guy does like his Latin.) In his 91st year, he’s facing the first seriously debilitating physical challenges of his life, forcing him to give up running. But he still gets out every day to run his beloved dogs.
L is for ___ and ___, my sister and brother-in-law (whom I won’t name here), who made the drive down from Michigan to coincide with my visit. I hadn’t seen them for 2 years (sister) and 4 years (bro-in-law).
E is for…let’s just say EVERYTHING. Every aspect of travel that I no longer take for granted. Like: thoughtful flight attendants. Empty middle seats. Regional food you can only get by being there. Hugging on arrival and departure and any other time we felt like it. And E is also for EVERYTHING I love about where I live now, and the fact that–despite Delta’s excellent performance on this trip–I still have no desire to fly anywhere else now for a long, long time.
Home with The Mate and The Beast is where I am happiest now.
That said–would love to hear of others’ experiences as they venture “back out there.” Trip story, anyone?
You’ve heard of a square peg in a round hole? That’s not me. I’m more like the most boring bit of a Tinker Toy set, the little stick that connects to ANYTHING. Or–going literary–I’m Nick Bottom in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, trying to play all the roles: “Let me be the lion too!”
Or Raven & Chickadee, a dedicated travel blog by two folks on a years-long, slo-mo road trip, which regularly gathers dozens of comments.
Etc. I’m sure y’all know many more blogs on many of my favorite topic where the comment section is hopping.
But you know what? I am OK with my own lack of internet sizzle. Two of my favorite blogs, written by fellow Lopez Islanders, fill me up with ideas and inspiration every time I read them, and sometimes their comment section is as modest as my own. (But just in case you want to be filled with ideas & inspiration yourself and you don’t already follow these, check out:
As March draws to a close, this will be my last Road Trip Retro post for now–and hopefully, ever! This is the time of year when, in “normal” years, we’d have just gotten settled back into the home routine: me working at the bakery, The Mate clearing fallen branches around the property and getting the lawn mower in shape.
It’s not a “normal” year. But things are turning that way, even though I’ll never think of “normal” again. (The other day I went into a friend’s house for the first time in 14 months and felt like crying with joy.)
So let’s finish up with Road Trip VIII, shall we? That year, three years ago, I became aware that we had fallen into a pattern with our first couple of road weeks. So I determined to NOTICE stuff that I might have bypassed before. Starting with this amazing “We Can Do It!”” cloud in Tacoma.
Passing out of Oregon into California on Rt. 199 (a fave), I captured this sign which we’ve always enjoyed:
Visiting our favorite Prairie Creek redwoods, I decided to highlight the less obvious parts of the forest.
Visiting our wee cuzzies in Oakland, I tried to capture the sense of their neighborhood…
…and just up the road in Berkeley, this wonderful memorial to the Free Speech movement:
Next up, SoCal. With our sons long graduated from college and my grandmother long since passed away, we visited a more obscure bit of coast, just the two of us…
…before heading into LA for the usual family & friends visits. Then, the Big Left Turn, and off into Arizona, where, for once, we rented a cabin near our favorite park-nobody-seems-to-have-heard-of, the Chiricahua National Monument.
In Albuquerque, I captured a piece of a “ho-hum hike” at the base of the Sandia range, right there in town…
…and finally remembered to give their spectacular cuisine its photographic due:
Speaking of noticing: we also finally decided to let Oklahoma show us its best stuff. Frequently terrible weather (blizzards, tornadoes) keeps us from crossing OK, but in 2018 we stayed in TWO different state park cabins, at either end of the state.
Nothing breathtaking, but very pleasant (too cold for us to camp). And I got to see this porcupine asleep high in a cottonwood!
The eastern park, Lake o’ the Cherokees, featured 1930s-era cabins made by the WPA.
Passing through Missouri (another rarity on our eastbound journeys), we stopped to recreate in some federal scenic river land. The name escapes me–but this beaver didn’t!
Cutting down through Tennessee, we treated ourselves to a date in Nashville.
With our friends in the Blue Ridge of North Carolina, I tried to focus more on the background of the place–its rhododendron thickets…
…though who can resist a mountain sunrise?
At the apex of our journey–my home stompin’ grounds of Durham and Chapel Hill, NC–I focused my camera on some of my personal NC icons:
…and, of course, the culmination of every annual NC pilgrimage, the ACC Men’s Basketball feast:
Heading north this time, we made a straight shot to our other cousins, in southern Vermont, where all the little things I might have noticed were immediately blanketed by snow.
Heading home through Kentucky: isn’t this the best bike path bridge ever?
Stopping for a bike ride in Topeka, KS, we pretty much stumbled onto this historic site: the school where Brown v. Board of Education began.
Heading for the Rockies, we took advantage of some friends’ spending a sabbatical in Colorado Springs.
A hike at Mesa Verde, where we had the trail to ourselves…
Our annual get-together with Adventure Buddies (you know ’em well by now) Tom & Kate was near Page, AZ. Just noticing this piece of the map (so near to the Grand Canyon) was new to us.
One thing we did that I’m not real proud of: took a boat tour on Lake Powell to see Glen Canyon, or what’s left of it. What I mostly noticed? My conflicted feelings.
Finally back in Washington, going for a walk as we waited in the ferry line, I kept the theme going, capturing the beauty of our Salish Sea environment…
…every tiny bit of it.
Thanks for riding with me through most of the past ten years! Tune in next time for something a little more current, ok? And be well.
I know I make it seem like interrupting our Road Trips with airplane flights is an anomaly, but 2017 actually managed to involve a plane ride too. Just a short one, right at the start.
See, I’d pitched this new idea to my two older sisters: “Hey, as each of us turns 60, let’s have a Sisters Weekend Getaway, in a town that’s new to all of us!” Since that’s something we’ve never done in our lives–all 60 years of them, for some of us–they thought that was a pretty good idea. That early spring, the eldest of us was up, and she picked…
San Diego. So Road Trip VII began with me flying there to meet my Seesters. We rented a house, went for lots of walks, and ate a LOT. We weren’t full-on tourists, but we spent one full day at the famous zoo…
and another out on Point Loma.
The tide pools got an A+ in my book.
First Seesters Getaway under our belts, we went our separate ways–one to Michigan, one to Texas, and me back to LA where I met The Mate and Red Rover. We visited with all our LA dear ones, and then headed out across the desert, like most other years.
In Albuquerque, our friend Beth helped us indulge our craving for green chile at a very cool restaurant, The Range.
Armed with leftovers, plus the Sisterhood of the Traveling Avocado (from my cousins’ tree in LA), we beelined for our favorite part of North Texas, Palo Duro Canyon, where it was just barely warm enough to camp.
Next up, Dallas, where our friends treated us to a bike tour around the less-well-known parts of the city…
As often happens on our late-winter road trips, the route from TX to NC was a blur, which means the weather was probably lousy. We did manage one hike at the TN-NC border.
During these days, a new tradition was born: “Noodlebag.” How’s that work? 1. Cook noodles at friends’ house; add salt & olive oil. 2. Steal some of their leftovers. 3. Over the next three days, add whatever’s in your ice chest, and heat in the microwave of whatever cheap motel you’re staying in.
In North Carolina at last, along with my Amazing Parents, Son Two met us for basketball, BBQ, and Being a Good Son.
Basketball. Family. Critters. Family. Basketball. Mama Dip’s Fried Chicken. Basketball. Wild trout lilies. If you’ve been following this blog for even a couple of posts, you probably know the drill by now.
Snow in NC, in March? OK. So of course when we left, we drove North.
If happens sometimes. This was one of those times. We had a brand-new little baby cousin to visit!
But hey–at least New Englanders know how to deal with snow!
Also, I grooved on being able to help our cousins bottle-feed some of their new lambs, overseen by Ben the Shepherd Donkey.
Heading home through upper-middle of the continent, we had a couple of notable recreation stops. First, a bike trail that was once the tow path for the Illinois River barges, just like the song I learned from my friend Lance: “Every day I work on the Illinois River/Get a half a day off with pay/On the tow path hauling barges/On a long hot summer day...”
Second, we diverged into Colorado at the end of the Plains to meet our Intrepid Adventure Buddies (say it with me) Tom & Kate in Estes Park…
…on the edge of Rocky Mountain National Park. I got sick while in Colorado, and spent most of my time walking slowly and enjoying the scenery from the back of the car. Still worth it.
Finally, back in Montana, we stopped at this special spot where the mighty Missouri River is born from the confluence of three smaller rivers. Lewis & Clark camped here.
Onward! Homeward! Apparently quite a bit of snow had fallen while we were dallying in the Rockies, but we’d given Idaho time to clear its highways.
So, a road trip with extra sisters, a son & a new, wee cousin? All gravy. Yes please!
Tune in next time for RT2018. Gonna ride this retrospective right up till the last one. Maybe then I won’t notice the lack of RT2021.
I’m writing this on the anniversary of the cutting-short of last year’s Road Trip (X), when The Mate and I turned tail and fled home from NC in under a week, driven by our COVID fears.
Five years ago, RT6 also ended abruptly, but only for one of us. I flew back, leaving The Mate to follow in Red Rover at his own pace. No global pandemic fears that time, though. Just a bakery opening.
Holly B’s Bakery has been trading in Love & Butter since 1976, and I’d been working as a baker there since 2011. But in 2016 Holly retired, selling the bakery to my brand-new boss, Stephanie. After receiving her promise that I could make pie (something Holly wasn’t into), I agreed to be there to help out on Opening Day–March 17. Which meant flying home from NC.
So with that in mind, I enjoyed the Half-Trip as wholly as possible. Let’s revisit, shall we?
Starting with our friends the redwoods again…
After visiting with our Oakland cousins, we spent a couple nights camping in Pinnacles National Monument (now it’s officially a Park, I think).
That place is so cool. They have condors too, though we didn’t see any that trip.
Next up, SoCal. Again–I’m skipping over photos of some very dear folks we stayed with and saw down there, to include this photo from the San Bernardino Mts. Turns out Son One, on a rare stint not in the jungle, was working nearby, and met us for a day hike.
Once again we had a date with Intrepid Travel Buddies Tom & Kate, this time in a park new to all of us: Anza-Borrego National Park.
The sun felt good enough to make us appreciate the shade of the palm oases.
We sojourned in Albuquerque again, but only briefly, and my photos were only of friends. A day later, we were meeting more friends, from Dallas–not in Dallas for once, but in Caprock Canyon State Park, which we’d stumbled on the previous year.
Unfortunately our friends hit a deer on their way to join us, totaling their car and shredding their nerves. So we didn’t stay long. But it was a good reminder, once again, not to dump on North Texas for lack of scenery.
As usual we zipped across the lower South…not much in the photo record there. Except for one special place that we’d learned of from fellow road-trippers Eric & Laurel, aka Raven & Chickadee: Oak Mountain State Park outside of Birmingham, Alabama. We fell in love with this place.
When we got to Georgia, we treated ourselves to a special kind of camping trip: Cumberland Island, reachable only by ferry.
Cumberland Island has one of those classically conflicting Southern histories, but today at least, it belongs to the people.
Did I mention the feral horses?
Back at my folks’ farm in Durham, NC for the ACC Tournament once more, we threw ourselves into basketball, of course…
…and also farm life. Not only was Son Two visiting then, but so was my niece, all the way from Texas (I know: something else great about Texas!).
Knowing I was there for a shorter amount of time made me appreciate the visit all the more, I think.
I focused less on the clutter of my childhood home, and more on its distinctness, like the many sculptures made by my very talented German grandmother.
Going home so soon, while spring reins in the upper South?
Wait, why am I leaving again?
So, back in 2021…here’s to health, security, maybe even travel before too long–and don’t forget the love & butter.
If you read the previous post, you’ll know that RT 2014 came with extra drama. But the following year, as memory and these photos remind me, the sun SHONE on Red Rover and her occupants.
Our blessings started with a quick detour in southwestern Oregon’s Illinois River scenic area, which we’d driven past for years.
Sunny riverside or pitcher-plant-filled swamp, this place deserves the word “awesome.”
Next up: a precious visit with our now-toddling twin cuzzies in Oakland.
We then made our Big Left Turn a bit earlier than some years, skipping LA to head straight over the mountains and into Death Valley.
Winter did catch back up with us in Albuquerque, but we took advantage of the snow to go for an extra-beautiful hike with our friend Beth in the Tent Rocks National Monument (one of our favorite spots when we lived for half a year in Santa Fe twelve years before).
Not many photos follow, so we must have zipped across the lower half of the country again…but then found ourselves once more in the Asheville area, soaking up the Blue Ridge. Since I grew up in NC, these mountains were my earliest benchmark of beauty.
Next up–the perennial apex of our trip: Durham, NC, my hometown. There, as always, we hung out on my folks’ little farm, which is slowly being donated to the adjacent Carolina Friends School, which they helped to found.
Since the place is undergoing these changes, I took some photos to document the delightfully messy present that was also my childhood.
Remember those blessings I was talking about? In 2015, we were gifted with the opportunity not just to cheer for our beloved Tarheels on TV, but to attend a game in person.
Since I had published Book Two of my YA Flying Burgowski trilogy, Headwinds, at the end of 2014, this road trip featured another reading at Durham’s famous Regulator Bookshop. This time I enlisted my old middle school English teacher, Henry Walker, and a couple of current Friends School students, to do a dramatic reading with me!
Yet another blessing, as we headed home: discovering this amazing chunk of scenery in the Arkansas Ozarks.
So pretty–all that beautiful brown sandstone!
We stayed in a state-run lodge as nice as anything you’d find in a national park.
On the way home, latitude I-40, we stopped to recreate near our favorite chunk of North Texas–but this time, instead of Palo Duro, we discovered its cousin, Caprock Canyon.
As if all this scenery weren’t enough, we made time for a quick detour back to the Mother of All Gorge-ousness, the Grand Canyon. Only for a day hike–but I made the most of it.
Near Page, AZ, The Mate and I took a slot canyon tour–not the overly-famous Antelope Canyon, but a smaller one.
Blessing #…oh, I’ve lost track…was meeting Adventure Buddies Tom & Kate (by now you should remember them) outside of good ol’ Joshua Tree National Park for three days of desert togetherness.
We also drove down near Palm Desert to walk through a beautiful oasis there, traditional lands of the Agua Caliente Cahuilla Band of Indians.
Driving home on the eastern side of the Sierras, we found public campgrounds still closed, but managed to squeeze into a small private one.
Next along the way: Mono Lake. We only had a couple extra hours, but…it’s right there!
In northern California, near Susanville, we scored what is still one of our all-time favorite rail-trails. I mean–come on!
Next, a state park in middle Oregon, near Prineville, by the Deschutes River…
Final night, before entering Washington? We camped in Oregon’s famous Columbia Gorge. A fitting reminder of what gorge-ousness exists in our very backyard.
Final lesson from this retrospective of 6 years ago? All road trips are gifts. But some gifts have more facets than others. 2015 was extra special that way. Leaving me extra grateful.
What with COVID and nearly 200,000 miles, Ol’ Red started her retirement this year, as a hand-me-down to Son One. But I thought she deserved top billing today, seeing as 2013 was her debut. (Also the debut of the Subaru Cross-trek. Who knew what trend-setters we were?)
The only theme I can piece together from RT III is my own forgetfulness. Looking through the folder, all I notice is
a) I mistook, last post, in saying we’d explored the Everglades & the Keys in 2012. Nope–that was this trip, as you’ll see.
b) if I took any photos of our week in NC, they all seem to have disappeared
c) my memory gaps of that trip seem to equal the gaps in the photo history: go figure
But no point dwelling on my aging brain–let’s focus on what definitely DID happen, ok? Like kicking off the trip by meeting Adventure Buddies Tom & Kate in Sedona, AZ.
Sedona’s a bit “precious” from our point of view–too many art galleries, not enough federal park space. But what land is protected there is drop-dead gorgeous, and very (too?) accessible.
Further in the file, photos of friends in the Phoenix area prove we went through there, but next comes…Florida?! So maybe 2013 was another one of those years where we fled winter storms across the country as fast as possible, avoiding the temptations of scenery and recreation.
Not pictured: making mileage across (I’m guessing) I-20.
But in Florida we continued our exploration of its many, varied state parks, including this one boasting “Florida’s highest waterfall.”
Psych! Turns out the waterfall goes down into a sinkhole. So yes, technically, it’s 75 feet “high.”
We did then visit the Everglades, biking a really cool, bird-and-gator-filled loop…
I have kind of a thing for manatees, so we had to rent some kayaks and go find the big ol’ “sea cows.” Unfortunately the spot we chose was jammed with tour boats and snorkelers doing the same thing we were doing, while the poor manatees huddled in a roped-off area. I felt yucky about the whole thing.
After that, we visited friends on Key Largo. My favorite pic from that visit involved fish–stuffed with shrimp and baked en croute. One of our friends is an icthyologist, so he was in charge of making sure my dough depiction was accurate for grouper.
Another friend, in Northeast Florida, treated us to some wetland hikes that somewhat made up for degradation of the Everglades.
Now comes the big gap: our week in NC. Maybe the Tarheels lost in the first round of the ACC that year and I was too bummed to take pictures?
But clearly it was another year of cold northern weather, ’cause we headed home at the fairly low latitude of I-40. First stop, the Blue Ridge, for some hikes in what my east-coast soul thinks of as a beautiful winter forest, and my west-coast Mate thinks of as “dead.”
Remember Palo Duro from the last Road Trip? Crossing north Texas, we defaulted back there for a day hike.
Seriously, this place is way too pretty. I owe Texas all kinds of apologies.
One more stop along I-40, this time in Santa Rosa, NM: the Blue Hole. I was a bit skeptical, given the way it was pimped by billboards, but, well…
Cutting up past Las Vegas, we totally skipped the city for the region’s best feature (for people like us): Red Rocks State Park.
I’d say it’s one of America’s better-named parks.
We must have then headed north on the east side of the Sierras, ’cause this can’t be anywhere but Mono Lake.
Another recreational stop in CA–Burney Falls, near Mt. Lassen–yielded this wonderful waterfall. I love the way the water seems to sprout right out of the ferns.
Finally, end of March: home to western Washington! The Skagit bulb fields make the perfect welcome-home bouquet.
Thanks for riding along. Here’s hoping that Road Trip IV doesn’t demonstrate further erosion of my memory channels!
Welcome back to NOT-Road Trip I, a wistful review of the past 10 years of criss-crossing this great continent in Feb-March. Looking back at photos from 2012 is like seeing broad stripes of color on a blanket.
BLUE and WHITE. We started in Yellowstone as a special Valentine’s Day gift to ourselves. Thanks to a kind of bus on skis, and our own snowshoes, we penetrated deep into a park otherwise closed to traffic…the human kind.
You can bet this has become one of our favorite photos of ourselves.
BROWN and OLIVE. Needing some warmth, we headed straight down through Utah to Arizona.
One of the most accessible national parks is Petrified Forest–right off I-40. Since winter storms were threatening, we opted for the ease of a ride-through, and kept on our way.
RED. After holing up in Albuquerque for a bit, we headed sadly for Texas, knowing that the Panhandle is one of the dullest parts of a state which guards its scenery pretty closely. But following our noses to a small green blob on our map, we discovered Palo Duro State Park–amazingly, the second-largest canyon in the US, and one that we nor anyone we knew had heard of.
WHITE and BLUE again (warm shades). Another brand-new discovery for us (though much better-known): Florida’s National Seashore, where we camped and rode our bikes, in awe of the ivory sand.
Having crossed the country at top speed, outrunning storms, we found ourselves with a full extra week in Florida, which we spent bopping from one gorgeous state park to another.
We did also ride our bikes through the Everglades and visited friends in the Keys, but frankly, I found the environmental degradation there more depressing than inspiring, so I won’t revisit those places here.
BROWN & GREEN (wet version). Okeefenokee! Need I say more?
Since Georgia’s wild places have such great names, we also joined some friends in paddling the Ogeechee River.
Back at my parents’ farm once more–don’t forget, dear readers, that NC in March is always the apex of our Road Trips–Son Two joined us again from college, for Tarheel basketball, great BBQ, and cuddles with Stevie, World’s Cutest Ass.
SILVER. Unlike the previous year, winter weather precluded heading very far north, so we made the Big Left Turn and headed west through the middle of the country, taking one touristy, cultural stop–unusual for us.
BROWN & BLACK. Astonishingly, while Flagstaff got a foot of snow, just north of there, we found Estes Park, Colorado, on the edge of Rocky Mountain N.P., nearly snow-free.
The “Black” comes from another new find (to us): Colorado’s Black Canyon of the Gunnison. It was too snowy to hike down, so we snowshoed along the rim.
RED again. First, we camped in the lovely & accessible Colorado National Monument outside Grand Junction.
To this day, this remains our only sighting of desert bighorns–right across the road!
Of course the ultimate RED is found in Moab, UT, jumping-off spot for three major national parks.
There, we began what has remained a tradition of joining our Adventure Buddies Tom & Kate for, well…
COLOR US HAPPY. Back home in Washington, we managed to meet both our sons on break from college, and celebrated with sushi at Fujiya, our favorite restaurant in the world.
So that’s Road Trip II–colorful, warm, and now folded in the closet of memory. Catch you next time for RT III–thanks for traveling with me!
Anyone who’s followed this blog for a calendar year will know that at this point in the calendar, Wing’s World morphs into a travel blog for 6-8 weeks. Since our kids left the nest, since I left teaching, since the Mate retired and we moved to Lopez Island, we have been leaving in mid-February to drive across the country to North Carolina, returning at the end of March in order for me to start a new season at Holly B’s Bakery.
[Why North Carolina in March? Read a quick primer here.]
This time last year, we were packing up Red Rover for Road Trip X. In any normal year, we’d be doing the same right now for RTXI. But you don’t need me to announce that this isn’t any normal year.
The Mate’s waiting for his second COVID shot. I’m waiting for my first. The country is waiting, period. And we’re not going anywhere. [Well, maybe a teensy, contact-free staycation. But our kind of Road Trip? Forget it.]
So I thought I’d take these next few blog posts to celebrate the joy of the past 10 years of road tripping–my way of keeping hope alive for the time when we can do this again. All of us–whatever our version of Road Trips may be.
Road Trip I: 2011
I hadn’t started blogging then, so this trip’s not recorded. Had it been, your reaction may have been, “Really? You’re trying to cram all THAT into one road trip?”
THAT = visiting out-of-the-way parks we’d never taken the time to explore, like Sunol, near the Bay Area…
…but also famous national parks we already knew and loved, like Joshua Tree
THAT also = visiting family, like my grandmother in Santa Barbara–she turned 103 two months after this photo, and lived for another half a year
Of course THAT includes daily doses of recreation, hiking or biking together. (In those days I was still running too, but The Mate had had to give up his beloved sport some years earlier). We quickly became aficionados of desert hiking, despite the need for frequent photography stops.
Some of the special new corners of our country that we “discovered” became dear favorites, to which we’ve returned repeatedly, like the Chiricahua National Monument.
THAT also meant, of course, visiting our “far and dear,” folks who went and moved to places like Arizona & Texas. But, I reasoned, would they welcome us coming to stay with them in the middle of a work week? Shouldn’t we give ourselves some work while we visited, to keep us out of their hair?
And so, in two different cities, San Antonio and Dallas, I signed us up for 3-day stints with Habitat for Humanity.
Our far & dear thought we were silly. “Next time, skip the volunteer work and spend more time with us!”
Turns out, for us, the idea of combining socializing with volunteering was cooler in concept than reality. Since then, we’ve kept the two separate.
We learned on Road Trip I to enjoy the incredible contrasts our big country has to offer–desert one week, swamps the next.
We also folded some history into those off-the-beaten-track stops, like Birmingham.
In the Blue Ridge of North Carolina, more old friends. (You’ll notice I don’t include these photos because I don’t want to violate their privacy, but this one, at a distance, gives the idea.)
And when we finally got to Durham–my hometown, and Chapel Hill, where The Mate and I met–we celebrated what we had come for: family and Tarheel basketball. And Tarheel basketball family.
I should clarify that. My parents are NOT Tarheel fans. They are nuts about other things, like animals and recreation, but NOT the Heels.
Here’s the basketball family–which I have come to think of as the Tribe.
The one place both basketball and non-basketball family meet is the annual Wildflower Walk, a tradition The Mate started back when he used to fly back for the ACCs.
After the tournament (The Mate surely remembers how the Heels did that year, but I don’t) Road Trip I took us north–way north: through DC, then up to Rhode Island. Why not? We’re not due home till end of March!
Then, Maine, where we spent half a sabbatical year in 2003.
Finally, we made what I’ve come to think of as The Big Left Turn. Crossing the country at this latitude in March is no joke, so we traveled fast, sticking to interstates to beat the winter storms. This photo of a groundhog in upstate NY is the only one showing any kind of scenery; the rest was just “let’s try not to die when that semi going 85 hits that ice patch.”
So, to recap: Road Trip I established a bunch of patterns–new discoveries of small parks; pilgrimages to big ones; brief and longer reunions with family & friends; homage to history; bike paths & hiking trails as tools of exploration; deep infusion of family & basketball in NC; daring winter on our way home.
Patterns that never took: volunteer work. That had to find another place in our lives. (Don’t worry–it has.)
The day after Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were declared President- and Vice President-elect, I sat down to express my thoughts in this blog…and quickly realized someone had already expressed them for me. “Raven and Chickadee” is the blog of my friends Laurel and Eric, who left their home in Ashland, OR several years ago for a life on the road as full-time RV-ers. Until COVID, which…well, I’ll let Chickadee (Laurel) tell it. The photos are by Raven (Eric).
Bridging The Divide
Wow. Is it really over? I hope so. I am deeply relieved to step off of this insane election roller coaster.
It probably comes as no surprise to anyone who knows us that we did not vote for the incumbent. But this election has made me think long and hard about the state of our country.
Strangers In A Strange Land
Our hometown—Ashland, Oregon—is about as liberal a town as you’ll find anywhere. That’s one of the things that drew both Eric and me to live there many years ago. For decades, we lived in a town of like-minded folks, where the biggest controversy was how to humanely manage the deer mowing down people’s gardens.
We now find ourselves in Eastpoint, Florida—a stronghold of conservatives, where we are liberal outliers in a community rife with Trump flags and signs.
When we took to the road for our fulltime travels seven-and-a-half years ago, one of my fears was that we wouldn’t find people with whom we had anything in common. That has not turned out to be true. Our network of friends has expanded to a rich and satisfying tribe that extends from coast to coast.
In our travels, we’ve also discovered that people, by a vast majority, are decent. Even if we aren’t destined to become close friends, we’ve been touched time and again by the kindness of strangers, no matter what their political or religious beliefs. That includes our neighbors here in Eastpoint, who have been unfailingly kind and generous as we’ve navigated these difficult months of dealing with my parents’ home, my father’s death, and the pandemic.
The Long Road Ahead
This election was certainly not the Blue Wave that we anticipated. While we are thrilled to have Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as our new president and vice-president, it is painfully clear that we have a long road of healing ahead. And it’s up to us, the people, to heal our nation.
I hope we will be kind to one another, that we will approach each other in a spirit of generosity, that we will listen to each other’s concerns, that we will try to understand, and that we won’t fall into the seductive trap of labeling and dismissing anyone who votes or thinks differently. (I am excluding anyone who voted for Trump for racist reasons. That includes anyone flying a Confederate flag or wearing a MAGA hat. The time of white supremacy is long over, so get over it. )
We do not have an easy task ahead. Personally, I’ve had a field day with the absurdities of Trump over the past four years (along with feeling terrified and outraged). But along with the vast majority of our neighbors here in Eastpoint who voted for Trump, Eric and I both have family members and friends who voted for him. These are not racist, unkind, ungenerous people. They had their reasons for voting for Trump, just as we had our reasons for voting for Biden. Somehow, we need to find compromises.
The chasm is wide. But we have to bridge it, for the sake of one another, our country, and our world.