It is hard to believe that I have only been on the road for a little more than a week. In that time I have: hiked Cuyahoga Valley National Park, seen Detroit, Burlington, and Cleveland, visited the Conserve School, showered in each of the Great Lakes (except Huron), summited five peaks in three different states, seen a few friends from Bates, slept on an organic farm, been to a medical school party, checked in with my family at Apogee Adventures, driven 2,400+ miles, slept in two Walmart parking lots, listened to a couple books on tape and hours of music, shopped at countless roadside farm stands, filled up at far too many gas stations with prices ranging from $2.04 to $2.79, and seen the Adirondacks, White, and Green Mountains… and this is just the beginning. Wow.
I’ve tried to convey with my daily posts the specifics of each day, but the overall experience so far is much greater than the sum of its parts. I’ve experienced extraordinary generosity from my wonderful hosts in Ann Arbor (Funk), Wooster (Danya and co.), Hanover (Annie), Keene (Kelly and co.), and am now staying with Professor Hall, one of my favorite history professors at Bates. More than just offering a roof over my head, they have helped me unpack my experience and encouraged me to think about it in different ways. They also each serve as a reminder of the network of family and friends that we largely take for granted in that we often fall out of touch so quickly, assuming that we will pick things up right where we left off when next we see each other. I am very guilty of that mindset. Yet checking in with the people we care about is so easy in this day and age, why not give it a little more effort? I certainly plan on doing so. In some ways, this trip is a physical manifestation of that desire.
While each of my hosts has deepened my understanding of what I have been doing, I have had more than enough time to reflect on my own. Living on the road is quite a concept. The freedom offered is paramount, but there are obvious drawbacks as well. To focus my intention and remain mindful, I have been coming up with a set of guidelines that are proving quite helpful for me as I trek across the country. To share them with you, I have started a series called Roadtripology, a sporadic log of notes about my life on the road. My hope is that it may prove a useful tool for those thinking about their own upcoming adventure on the road.
All in all, I am very happy with my first week. It was a lot of driving, but with obvious purpose. I saw parts of the country that I had never seen before and feel much more in tune with parts of the Midwest, an area I had grown up in, but hadn’t really explored. Now, I am back in the Northeast, which brings with it a definite feeling of comfort and security. I lived and explored this part of the country during four of the best years of my life. Every view has certain nostalgia to it.
What is even more exciting is that my mom is coming to join me on September 5th. She has always wanted to hike Mount Katahdin in Baxter State Park. Recently, Katahdin has been the center of a veritable frenzy of press. From Scott Jurek to sustainable use issues, it is clearly a hotbed issue in Maine right now. Before we take on the Knife’s Edge, we are going to head across the Bay of Fundy to visit my aunt outside of Lunenberg, Nova Scotia. From there, we will drive back around via Halifax to visit the legendary Hansen Johnson before curling back through New Brunswick en route to Katahdin. After spending some time in that park, we are off to Acadia to cross another National Park off the list. Cadillac Mountain is calling my name! From there, all that stands between Boston and me is a wonderful meal at my favorite restaurant in Portland, ME: Silly’s.
It sounds like week two is going to be just as exciting as week one. I may even get to see how well two people can sleep in Sam… I am optimistic, but it could be an interesting transition! As always, stay tuned for the specifics.
My progress thus far!
(This map isn’t exactly my route, but it gives a great overview of the highlights,
check out the up-to-date maps here)