The journey of a lifetime is starting to take shape in my mind. I think I have finally settled on an outline of what that journey will look like, a major travel adventure.
Care to hear about it?
No walkabout for this old man
Listen, I’m in pretty damned good shape for someone seventy-three, but I’m not going to attempt to walk across this country. I may be a dreamer, but I’m a realistic dreamer. I know, I know, it’s just one step at a time, putting one foot in front of the other, and repeating that about six million times, but the sheer logistics of it is enough to give me a migraine.
Still, I want to visit small towns across this country, and I want to do it in some way other than just driving a car. I had considered riding a bike across the country, but the Rocky Mountains are formidable, and this has never been about me pushing myself to new physical limits. No, this has been more about seeing this country and meeting people, and I think I finally settled on a solution which will meet all of my needs and desires.
Remembering back to childhood road trips
I think I was five the first time my parents took me on a road trip to Iowa. Now, this was 1953, so be advised, as you read this, that there was no interstate freeway system at that time. Going from Tacoma, Washington, to Charles City, Iowa, required driving two-lane roads through backwater towns all the way, averaging about forty-or-fifty miles per hour the entire distance.
It was a magical trip for my younger self. I remember, clearly, the roadside cafes. I remember the rest stops on the side of the road, and my dad casually talking to the locals, the farmers, the ranchers, the shopkeepers, and just the people sipping lemonade under giant oak trees on hot, dusty afternoons. I have a memory of friendly people, helpful people, laughing people, without a doubt, memories colored by the optimism of youth but still, fairly accurate I believe.
Which leads me to today
I wonder about my fellow Americans today. I see so much hatred on the news. I read so much hatred on social media. And I wonder, is that how it is today, angry people, divided by political and religious beliefs? Or are there still Americans, along the backroads of this country, who are like those vague memories of my youth, helpful people, friendly people, people quick to laugh and willing to lend a helping hand to a traveling stranger?
And that is my quest . . .
To find out the answer to that question. I want to meet my America one handshake at a time, and I want to do it without driving along modern freeways, but rather taking the road less-traveled.
I suspect that my gut feeling is correct, that 99% of the people I meet are basically good people. When you strip away the b.s. about politics, there is very little that differentiates us all.
At this point, I have a vision. I want to take a bike tour of this country, with Bev and the dogs following along in our vehicle. We will see America in twenty, thirty, forty-mile chunks. One day I will ride the bike to a backwater town, where Bev will have set up camp. The next day she will ride the bike another thirty or forty miles, where I will be waiting in camp, and we will hopscotch our way across this country, meeting as many people as we can, and I will chronicle it all in writing and through YouTube videos, and doesn’t that just sound like a grand adventure? I will let you all know, daily, what part of what state we are in, and hopefully some of you will be able to drive out to meet with us, and my heart is racing just thinking about it, and I hope you will be a part of it all.
There you have it. The plan is in place. First, we have to get Bev through her own adventure, backpacking the Pacific Crest Trail, but once she finishes that, sometime in 2023, we will be ready to meet America, one handshake at a time. I can’t change the world. That’s too big of a dream, and my name is not John Lennon, so I can’t even imagine his vision. But I can make the world a little bit better, spread a little bit more love and empathy, one handshake at a time.
I hope to see you out on the backroads! Be sure to follow us on Youtube as we chronicle our adventures.
Oh, the wonder of it all!