And then I slept. And slept some more. My body had been telling me something. I had been ignoring it. So, it took the wheel. I arrived in Gaylord, Michigan about 4 (EST), yesterday. I thought about doing the things I had done a hundred times: unpacking, setting up the coffee maker, etc. But then I  thought I’d lay down for an hour or so before I set things to right and went and got something to eat. That didn’t happen. I never even got undressed or even under the blankets. I think I looked at the clock a few times, pulled half of the blankets over me, but the next thing I knew, it was 8 am.

The final leg of my journey is officially on pause for the day. I looked at the weather reports and it just doesn’t make sense. There is a cold front moving into the area. Cold fronts bring rain. Today is supposed to be rainy with some flooding all along my route. Tomorrow, colder but no rain. I’m well rested but I know a long day of driving would wipe me out again. Driving in the rain is different than driving in the sunshine. The movement and sunshine along empty roads revives me. I guess my body is more tense during the rain. I could feel it when I finally woke up this morning: I hurt everywhere


A small lifetime milestone yesterday: I finished the 50. I never really intended it, but there you have it. With the blue, I outline the states I have been to. The red highlights my routes. For Travels with Coffee, I still have four more states to do, but I’ve already been to them. With Michigan, I have now been to all of the states. Driving. The final run, I’ll be loosely following a previous trip I took a long time ago, helping somebody move back to Maryland from Kansas City. I’ll meander my way through Indiana, Ohio and West Virginia. Starting tomorrow.

Baraboo, Wisconsin turned out to be a fantastic little town, filled with crafters and great little shops and places. Rachael moved from DC to Madison in 2000 to get away from the hustle and bustle. At one point, she told me, she had to excuse herself from a friend’s wedding in DC because she knew if she went back it would be permanent. She was used to the hustle and bustle. Madison is not Washington DC.

She eventually her way into an even smaller town that has its own culture. She said you lose anonymity, but then you gain so much intimacy. –when you pull over, as she did, to chat with the mailman, there’s definitely a lack of anonymity there.

Like in everything else, it is easy to give “definitions,” but places to live in America is on a spectrum, a sliding scale with as much variety as the cities in America. You have the major metropolis, squeezed against another major metropolis, like DC on one side. Baraboo is more towards the other end of the spectrum. It’s a small town, about 50 miles from a small city. Francis’ small town, Canon Falls, is a bit more up on the spectrum with a major metropolis 30 minutes away.

Lifestyles drive people to and from the various types of cities and the various types of climates. Jobs have a heavy weight in the equation, but it all depends on what you are willing to give up and put up with to live someplace. Nothing is ever really far away. Or it is as far away as you want it to be. And even that is now changing. The weight of jobs is getting lighter as Corona has forced us into what I see as the natural evolution. Telecommuting for work became possible when I was in college in the 90’s, with the introduction of email and the internet. Now with things like Zoom and lighting fast connections built to handle the new technology, why not live wherever the hell you want?

Of course there is the useless tug of regret, about the trip I wanted to take when I left college in 1997. But I ended up spending my entire life on the East Coast, traveling between major metro centers. I spent my entire life missing the beauty of New England. It was as if there was a roadblock in Philadelphia: do not pass. The farthest drive I took in New England was to Bangor, Maine. It’s a nine hour drive. I did more than that in one day a few times. I’m pretty sure I was on the road yesterday for a total of about nine hours.

What is in our backyard? What’s in our next door neighbor’s backyard? It’s something to explore. If you want to. I can also completely appreciate the comfortableness of being “home” and the lure of far away international destinations. That was really my original plan after college. I was in Miami. I was going to make it back to Philadelphia, by going west. Instead, I settled into the comfortableness and safety of the DC metro area and then the Philadelphia metro area.

I will be making it to Hawai’i. I’m not sure when. It’s open with a recent negative Covid test, but the reopening has people upset. The state went months with zero cases. They chose tourism over their people and people are not happy. The island of Lanai is facing an outbreak of Covid and they don’t even have a hospital. The people who live in Hawai’i are not allowed to travel in between islands and their children, excited to be going back to school to see their friends and teachers, will now be doing distance learning.

When I get there, though, I’ll be bringing my backpack along. Just in case. “West” can be a very ambiguous word.

I’m taking another nap.


UP: Upper Penninsula

The Drive to LP?