In early spring of 2007 I decided to quit my job, sell my house along with nearly everything else that I owned, and to live out of my car while traveling the country. These are my stories (and pictures) of life on the road.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Home Again

After leaving the Badlands Wednesday morning the rest of the day was pretty much filled up with driving. We made a short stop in Sioux Falls to look for some good pants at Scheel's and to troll through the used car lots (I'm looking for a cheap mini-van) but we didn't waste much time before getting back on the road again. Once we hit Sioux Falls it was all pretty much over. I don't know how many times I'd driven that stretch of road, it was like being on auto pilot.

It was early evening by the time we got to Lakefield, MN where I'd drop Sarah off and I decided I didn't want to go back home that night. Not like I was dreading it or anything, it just seemed like an odd time of day to get back. Instead I decided to let Sarah take me out for dinner and slept on her living room floor. I had a tough time falling asleep and I was awake very early the next morning. I guess I was kinda excited about getting back home again.

I got up when Sarah did and we had breakfast before saying goodbye at the car, just like we did a little over 3 months earlier. She went to work and I hopped in my car; only I had a much shorter drive ahead of me this time.

The drive home from Lakefield through Jackson was just as I remembered it. The same curves, the same houses, the same corn. I approached Estherville and noticed they'd put up a new sign on the edge of town. It was strange as I pulled into Estherville to see people and vehicles that I knew and recognized. If I spaced off for a second I'd catch myself jumping at the sight of an Iowa license plate as I looked to see what county it was from, just like I'd done all summer, forgetting that I was now in Iowa.

The town and the people all looked the same, not much had changed. I saw the old Lincoln school had apparently lost its battle for survival as it was half way torn down when I drove by. I pulled onto a side street for a couple pictures before it was all gone. That found me pointed down the road that led to my old house so I decided to drive by. The house and the neighborhood looked just like they had when I lived there....except the grass was shorter. I noticed the hostas were in full bloom that I'd planted a couple years ago.

Driving past my house found my on a path I'd driven over a thousand times before. Two blocks south to clear the hospital and two blocks east to reach highway 9 running through town. Nine blocks south to reach Central Ave (Hwy. 4) and then eight more blocks east to reach the shop. The same route I took nearly every morning and lunch hour for the nearly 8 years I lived at that house. I saw Les driving the parts delivery truck on my way there. I waved but he didn't see me; he never did. Always looking straight ahead.

I pulled into the shop and it all looked the same. The parking lot was pretty empty but that's normal for early in the day. I walked in the front door and found Audrey working at her desk. It was good to see my sister again. We hugged and I gave her a case of her favorite beer from Colorado (don't tell her I actually bought it in Wyoming). It was good to see my sister again. I saw my dad working down in the shop, in my old bay. He didn't notice me and I stayed in the office a little longer to talk to Audrey before going down into the shop to see my dad again. It was good to see him and I've enjoyed hanging out with him a bit over the last couple days. I'm looking forward to spending more time with him over the next couple weeks that I'm home; the trip was definitely a success so far in that regard.

I hung out at the shop for a bit and then headed to my mom's house. She was at work but I found a note on the fridge welcoming me home and telling me there was leftover steak and sweet corn in the fridge. I was getting pretty hungry so I made a sandwich out of the steak and threw the corn away. Corn on the cob isn't meant to be a leftover and I wanted my first Iowa sweet corn of the year to be fresh...if I could find it.

I wanted to catch up on some things on-line and organize some photos that had been neglected over the last week or two of traveling with sparse internet connections. I sat my laptop on the table and when I went to plug it in found a three prong adapter already plugged into the wall so I could plug in my charger. Was this always there or did my mom anticipate me working at the table and plug it in for me? I also found a pile of my mail on the table, all of which had been forwarded to my mom's house. Thankfully there was only one bill to pay and it was a small one, the rest was garbage.

I ate my lunch and got some work done before my mom came home for lunch. She was really happy to see me and it felt good to hug her again. I almost teared up a little when she started to tear up and wouldn't let go. Maybe it was just the couple glasses of wine I had with my lunch. We talked a bit while she ate her lunch, it was good to see her again and to just hang out at her house. She took a longer then normal lunch and I went back to work to finish a couple things up.

I had nothing to do and nowhere to go...perfect! I drove around town a little and then drove to the neighboring towns to look for used vans, I didn't find much. I got back to Estherville and went to the farmers market to look for sweet corn. They were all out for the season but they gave me the name of a guy in Graettinger and they said they thought he'd still have some. I hope so, I ate sweet corn a few times out west but it was never very good, even though people tried to tell me that it was.

I was amazed how little time it took to feel like being back home was perfectly normal; it doesn't really feel like I've even left. I guess that's because everything is still pretty much just like I remember it. I'm glad to be home for a visit and the next couple weeks should be fun. No work and no commitments, just time to reacquaint myself with the town and area that I know so well.


Shutter to Think said...

Welcome back (there, not here, of course). Glad you survived your journey, and you certainly kept us all champing for more images as you moved from place to place.

Hope to shake your hand, one fine day.


Josh Martin said...

Glad to hear you had a safe return trip home. I really enjoyed reading about your trip, thanks for sharing!


You've reached the end of the page but that's not the end of the stories. If you want to read more (and who wouldn't!?) then click on the archive links to the right hand side of the page. They're listed by month; the adventure starts in May.

The February archives aren't actually from this trip but are previous adventures I've had, which are worth reading as well.