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, October 26, 2007

As Quickly as it Begins...

The rain never did let up and since the park closed at sunset I went and found myself a place to sleep for the night. Towards the end of my stay in Maine I was starting to consider returning to Iowa for the winter. I was still enjoying my trip but it was starting to feel like I was doing it more just do do it; instead of it being something I felt I needed to do. I thought perhaps it was because I'd been alone in the same place for about 1 1/2 weeks and that maybe when I started moving again I'd change my mind.

I couldn't shake the idea though and I don't know if it was just time or if it was a result of the rain but sitting in my house that evening I decided I would return to Iowa for the winter. It would give me a chance to actually make some money and I could schedule surgery for my knee, hopefully being well on my way to recovery by spring. I phoned my dad and let him know that although I wasn't positive that he could probably expect me to be home in about a month. I have no desire to go back to the shop full time but told him I'd be happy to help out with some diagnostic work if they got behind and that I could help fill in while he was out taking care of his parents.

I'd made sure to let him know I wasn't positive and that I could change my mind, but I knew deep down that wouldn't happen. Once I make up my mind about something that's just the way it is. Deciding to take this trip was that way. It took me about 3 days to think it over and decide that I wanted to do it. I gave myself a month to get all my stuff sold and my house ready to go. There were no agony in the decision and no second thoughts; that was just the way it was. Almost exactly one month later I was heading west with nearly everything I owned in my car. And now it seems to be the same with this decision.

I found a wireless connection and checked the weather report; it had changed from earlier in the day and showed cloudy and rainy for the next three days. I gave up on getting in a hike at Ricketts Glenn and decided instead to begin my trek SW.

When I woke up the next morning it was still dreary and rainy. I thought about it and decided I didn't need another month before I went home, just a couple weeks would be enough. I'd never visited the SE part of the country and really wanted to see the Virginias, Kentucky, Tennessee, and that general area. There were also some people down there I wanted to meet. Two weeks would give me plenty of time.

I drove pretty much the whole day, getting out of Pennsylvania before cutting through parts of Maryland and Virginia until I was winding my way through the fog shrouded mountains in the rain on some blacktop road headed SW through West Virginia. It got dark early that evening and I needed a break from driving so I found another wireless connection. I was tired of the rain and looked at a weather map to try and find someplace to go where it would at least be dry. I found the weather forecast for the entire area was dreary until at least the beginning of the weekend.

I sat there contemplating my choices, figuring out what I wanted to do and where I wanted to go. For nearly this entire trip I've avoided interstates whenever possible, choosing small highways and black tops instead; but now I needed to cover ground. I abandoned the small, windy road I was on on and headed north to the first interstate headed west. I drove relentlessly and the landscape began to change. From mountains and trees just entering their peak fall colors to gently rolling hills and trees that were just past their peak colors. Only twenty four hours after taking to the interstate in colorful and mountainous West Virginia I found myself in a landscape that was flat, brown, and dreary with empty fields and empty trees. The only radio stations I could find were country, classic rock, and light rock. It reminded me why I only listened to NPR and my MP3 player for the last couple years.

I crossed the Mississippi river into east central Iowa in the dark. I stopped at the worlds largest truck stop to stretch my legs and make my final blog post from on the road. I drove on another 50 or so miles before pulling into a rest area to sleep. When I woke up this morning I stuck to the intererstates until they disappeared before getting back on small highways. Now I find myself in my friend Lyle's driveway, typing this and using his wireless internet connection in the early afternoon.

Nobody knows that I'm here or that I was even on my way back home. In a few minutes I'll go to the shop to see my dad and sister. This evening I'll head over to my mom's house when she gets done at work.

So, just as quickly as the trip started it's come to an end. I won't lie and say it feels great to be back, that it feels like I'm coming home, or anything sappy like that. It is what it is and the reason I'm here right now is because I want to be. I guess I shouldn't really say the trip is over, afterall this whole “trip” wasn't really about the “trip” (as in seeing the country). It was about much more personal things then that and while I can't say I've found just what I was looking for I have more answers then I did before and I'm not ready to stop looking.

Trust me, I'm just as surprised as you are at the sudden “ending”, but that's how things tend to go with me. Stay tuned in to the blog though, I'm sure there will be plenty of other adventures and who knows when I might up and take to the road again.

So I guess the trip continues, just from a different location.


Jim said...

Hi Alan,

I've been reading along on your adventure since the trip to Arizona. I think adventure is a good description of it. Sure surprized by your quick decision to return home. I'll be ready to follow along when you continue. If your path leads thru Ohio again, we should get together. You don't seem to hard to entertain. VBG.

Enjoy your time in Iowa.

Anonymous said...

Hi Al,

I've been a silent reader for awhile now....hope you keep blogging. Good luck with whatever you decided to do in life.

BTW, I live in TN, close to Alvin C. York's homeplace. It's a nice place to visit.

Just Me

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.