The last of our gear has arrived. Camp stove, pots and pans, water filter, sumptuous six-inch memory foam mattress, tent, lanterns, back up batteries for all our electronic needs, coolers, and on and on and on.
We have everything we’ll need to set out on the third week of April. From there, if we need anything else, we’ll pick it up on the road.
The plan is to spend four or five nights a week camping and two to three nights a week in affordable motels. Much of that will depend upon the weather.
One of the advantages of setting out in spring is that not only will we see wildlife emerging from their winter torpor, we’ll also have a good chance of seeing their young. Oh, how exciting that will be!
This will be so different from the trip my father took us one in the summer of 1969. We won’t be going to the regular tourist hang outs and we’ll skip most of the National Parks to give Atticus more freedom. Still, it will be nice to pass through some of the National Park Service land during its hundredth anniversary.
I’ve only set up connections with a few friends along the way. The plan was always about traveling and seeing the land and not so much visiting with folks. Of course, there will be many interactions along the way of the unplanned variety. There are interesting people in the world and I look forward to meeting some of them as their fate intersects with ours.
The night before we set out, we’ll take a hotel room three hours to the south, right in the Medway vicinity. My old hometown doesn’t hold any special allure to me, other than it being where I used to come from, and that it is the place where my parents, Jack and Isabel are buried.
On that first day, we’ll visit their grave at sunrise. Then it will be down the street, around the corner, and about a mile away to the house I grew up in. I don’t think anyone lives in it any more, although I’m told they are fixing it up. But we’ll stop there and park on the little dead end street it sits on.
On the day we left on our own one-month long trip across the country, seven of us sat in the car waiting for the final checks before my father hopped into the station wagon. My two eldest siblings weren’t making the trip with us, because they had “grown-up” things to do. But here we were, all sitting together, packed in tension and nervousness and excitement. It was Jack Ryan’s idea to take his children away from the home where our hearts were heavy due to my mother’s death six days before the previous Christmas Day. We were off to see America, in the hopes of trading heavy hearts for winged ones.
My memories are not so strong of my childhood. But I do think the closest we ever were again was on that morning, sitting and waiting for the adventure to begin.
So that’s where Atticus and I will sit for a few moments of silence. I’ll try to remember the innocence of years gone by and I’ll say a prayer for my father and my mother and for good luck on our journey. Then, I’ll start up the car, leave that dead end road, turn left, as we did forty-seven years ago, to the west to everything that is waiting for us.
That first night we’ll stay with friends Tammi and Marybeth in Pennsylvania. The next night will be our first in a campground, most likely on the Outer Banks. After that, there isn’t much planning. Just a couple of feathers born by the wind and tied together by a lifetime of friendship.