August 08, 2012

The Great American Road Trip

I am in a 14-year old purple Honda Civic hatchback with a brand new clutch, driving with the sun beating on me across the hot, parched Sacramento Valley with my husband, an eight-month old puppy and a car packed for a month of living on the road. We are on a quest. We are on a journey. We are on a Great American Road Trip.

We are lucky, in the United States, to have such a vast and varied landscape. There are sandy beaches, rocky sea cliffs, deserts, rainforest, old mountains, new mountains, plains, canyons, caves, rolling green hills, giant ancient trees, old-time cacti, volcanoes and swamps, we have so many things to explore and experience just in the continental United States and so far, the list has only including natural wonders. There is a whole other perspective of a place when it comes to the people and what the people have built there, past and present and future. People make homes out of these places. They establish a community. Sometimes they love it, sometimes they don't; staying in a place for a reasons such as family, jobs, friends, culture, schools, natural beauty, climate, status, or recreation.

I have been asking myself, where is my place in this world? When I travel people ask me where I am from and I usually say, "I am from Pennsylvania but I live in San Francisco." because I can not bear the thought of saying I am "from" San Francisco. When I first moved to California and I experienced the first six weeks of non-stop sunshine of the summer months, I thought I would never leave. But the sunshine continued, for months while the world around me began to dry and brown and shrivel and crack under a coat of hot dust. Then there is San Francisco, where I have been for six years. When it is nice out, it is magical, for four hours in the middle of the day, while carrying around the jacket that you will need to wear 365 days a year. The rest of the time, it is damp and foggy and windy and cold and you wonder why anyone would want to live in a place where you need to wear ear warmers and gloves while walking the dog in August. But there is more to this place then just weather, some that I would love to leave and some that I would like to keep.

Well why not Pennsylvania then? I have family and friends there and I think I understand the people. Also, there is nothing like driving on a two lane country road through the rolling green hills of horse farm country or trail running across the grassy fields and quiet, hilly forests where your mind can finally relax and the other things at work in this world can whisper in your ear. So, why not there? Maybe it is because I left there for some reason and I found a little more of me somewhere else, or did I? Was a piece of me missing in Pennsylvania? Or maybe it is because I keep thinking that there is another place, where I will roll into town and breath in the air and look around me and smile at the people and know that in no other place where will I feel as much Me as I do here. So then, where is that place?

That is why I am baking in the sun in the Sacramento Valley, while my husband takes a snooze and the puppy lodges herself under my seat. We are on our way across the United States to try and discover that one place where we can finally feel Home. After much research, we have selected several places where we think we might like. In between, we are going to work in some sightseeing and time with family and friends. We only have a tentative plan and about 30 days. Who knows?

Here is the list of tentative stops:
  1. Hood River, OR
  2. Missoula, MT
  3. Bozeman, MT
  4. Jackson, WY
  5. Boulder, CO
  6. Somewhere in Iowa
  7. Somewhere further east of Iowa
  8. Pittsburgh, PA
  9. Syracuse, NY
  10. Providence, RI
  11. Hartford, CT
  12. Landenberg, PA
  13. Frederick, MD
  14. Lynchburg, VA
  15. Asheville, NC
  16. Somewhere between North Carolina and Texas
  17. Dallas, TX
  18. Austin, TX
  19. Somewhere in West Texas
  20. Somewhere in New Mexico
  21. Tucson, AZ
  22. Maybe somewhere in Southern California
But who knows? Maybe we will change it, add to it, subtract.



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