There is a thread I’ve pulled across the country from my home back in Kona to this train station I sit in now. Like a loose thread in a sock that can be pulled and pulled and pulled until the whole sock is gone, it’s wound its way through a cup of tea on the Deschutes river, a piece of pie at closing time in Silverton, a conversation on the kitchen floor in Boise, a long hug from my favorite cousin, a closed high school in Denver, a campfire in the Black Hills, a junk yard in South Dakota, a late night snack to comfort a friend whose grandmother lay dying in a hospital in Minnesota, through a group of fresh water surfers warming up with a cup of coffee in Michigan.
Whether I was delivering a case of wine to Boise or a dog to South Dakota, my heart and my story came right along with me, and you all took me in and gave me comfort. I’d love to write for you every thing I ate across the country, but the reality is I leave in couple days for Spain, so we gotta wrap this up.
At the beginning of this trip, I didn’t plan much. I was anti-plan, free as a golden eagle. And then I spent a sleepless night in a tent at a sketchy RV park/truck stop in Utah where I am 87% sure someone tried to unzip my tent at 5am. After that I did a little planning, at least figuring out where I would rest my head each night. But it was the unplanned meals and experiences that are always best from a stop at the Badlands, to a Rockies game, or staring at the vast oceanness of Lake Michigan.
It started with perfect briny oysters in Seattle. In Oregon, my brother in law’s dad served up Hood strawberries, red all the way through. My mom made grandma’s chicken and dumplings served with a version of our mutual favorite spiced iced tea. In Boise I had the best cheddar cheese ever while watching Shakespeare outdoors. My cousin grilled up bear burgers and served them with homemade canned salmon and pickles. In the middle of the Utah desert I drank a perfect almond milk latter. In Denver I ate tacos with hipsters. I skipped over the prospect of a sriracha whoopie pie in Wyoming for smoked pork chops and bread pudding in South Dakota. By the time I drove through the middle of South Dakota, my tummy needed a break, so it was Rosanne to the rescue with a slew of veggie tacos. Between the cornfields of Albert Lea I sipped zin and ate and ate and ate thanks to Minnesota hospitality. For the 4th of July I ate Mexican corn and taco in a bag (we are not proud) at a tiny fair outside Minneapolis where the fireworks viewed from a high school parking lot were as good any.
Before leaving the Twin Cities I stocked up on provisions at the St. Paul farmer’s market and had a perfect meal of chicken sausage, baby potatoes, and fresh asparagus at a campsite that felt like a fairy tale. Adorable diners in the UP served meat-filled pasties and bottomless cups of barely brown coffee. We hit up taco Tuesday in Cleveland and finally in Albany I was welcomed in a near-stranger’s home for chicken curry.
Thanks to all of you who welcomed me into your homes. Out of five weeks on the road, I only camped out four nights. The rest was spent with dear family and friends, some of whom I thought I’d never see again.
So here I am, about to take a train into New York city to complete this trip by gazing out at the Atlantic and I’m holding this unravelled sock, looking at how that thread wound its way across America. Over land and sea, through your hearts and mouths. And there is no other way to describe this trip except in a word: grateful. Thankful that there is no such place without pain, grief or heartache. That there is also no place devoid of joy, serenity or peace. There were many days on the road when I wanted to close my eyes and just be there already, especially on those long days of driving eight hours plus. Somedays it felt like I’d never get where I was going. But of course, it wasn’t true. To get where I needed to be, I had to just keep driving, mile after mile. And then after awhile, there you are.
I’ve got problems, you’ve got them, too. Thankfully we’re in this together.