Monday, June 24, 2013


Waltz outside of Texas

[Thirty-Nine Days to Lift Off]

We begin planning the trip with a few undeniable facts and unshakable goals.  And pretty soon a general plan immerges.  The first fact is that we take off in August.  In Texas and the Southwest, August and September are Seasons in Hell, the temperature constantly hovering like buzzards above 100 degrees, and in many places in the South, the humidity is a soaking 90 percent.  So we will begin heading north, and as with Orpheus or Lott the mantra will be don’t look back,  don’t turn around  Trust us, everybody’s here.  We have everything we need, and if not, we will buy it on the way.  Adios, Texas.

When we visit Aunt Barbara, we dance.
My niece and husband and my sister and husband.
The second fact is that we will have Christmas with my sister, Barbara, and her family in North Carolina.  The third fact is that thanks to the miracle of distance education, Colleen will complete a long term goal and receive her Bachelor’s degree, walking across the stage in Corvallis at Oregon State University.  Go Beavers.  The fourth fact is that we need to be back in Austin by August 1, 2014.  So it’s Austin in July, North Carolina in December, Oregon in June, and Austin in August.  These are the immoveables, the non-negotiables.

The first real goal is to get to Maine as soon as is practicable.  I have never been to Maine and have always wanted to see the coast there.  Acadia National Park quickly establishes itself as very important part of our trip, our first real landing station.  Since most of the camps sites close by the end of September, it creates the problem of how soon can we get there while not short changing the adventure along the way. Still we do not want to just rush there.  So St. Louis, Southern Illinois, Northern Ohio, Niagara Falls, and Lake Champlain become early destinations.  Following a couple of weeks in Maine, we have time to kill, meandering our way through New England and the Eastern Seaboard, with one eye cocked to weather channel watching for an early snowstorm or a late Hurricane.  So the fall plan emerges as the Maine coast, New England colors, Boston, Philadelphia, New York in late November for Jacob’s 16th birthday, Washington D.C. and Baltimore, then to North Carolina.  The trick will be finding landing locations so that we are not constantly picking up and moving the trailer only a few miles.  We want to be close to cities, but not in cities.  This will take more planning.

Winter stumps us.  After visiting Colleen’s family in Georgia, we become snow birds in Florida, which, I suppose, is its own brand of Americana. Maybe rather than be embarrassed, I should embrace the fact that I will be among my kind, the ultimate drop-outs:  retirees.  I am reaching the age where I can say, “Screw it.  It’s somebody else’s problem now.” This trip will be my practice run, my rehearsal at codger-dom.  The boys will get their beaches; they just won’t be as warm as they dream.  And, of course, there will always be Disney World, and for me, Key West and a cocktail with Papa. Maybe I’ll catch a week of spring training before we head west.  But for February, the general idea will be to get to Northern New Mexico and Southern Colorado as quickly as possible. We’ll pick up a little Southern History along the way—Selma, Medgar Evers, Emmett Till, William Faulkner, Richard Wright, Huey Long.  But our boys have never seen much snow and have never skied.  It’s time.

So the first six months will focus on the Midwest and the East Coast; the second six months will take us to the Southwest, West Coast, Rockies, and the Great Plains.  It seems that during the first half of the trip, we will have to work hard to carve time away from civilization, away from cities.  The second half, except for a week in LA and a week in San Francisco and maybe some drive-bys of other Western cities, will keep us tied closely to National Parks and the stunning extremes of desert and mile high mountains. That is, if the Republicans don’t strangle the government in the mean time and close down these terrible socialist, environmental propaganda programs paid for by the Interior Department.  Or maybe, in the spirit of corporate capitalism, by then, my family will be able to stay at “The Exxon Yellowstone Old Faithful Inn.”

[Note:  I wrote the "Countdown" pieces in March in the first wave of planning.  If you stick with us on this trip, you will see that we will visit Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota, we now hope.  Somewhere between March and June, Polly Monear and Joe Hoppe among others impressed upon us the necessity of visiting these states.]

Soundtrack:  Waylon Jennings.  Waltz Across Texas.


  1. Great post! Love your style! I'll have fun watching y'all go go go. Love to the family & keep some for yourself.

  2. I'm living vicariously through you. And, while you're here in da Lou, mi casa es tu casa! Maxine