…and that is a sucky title for the final column. Toes in the sand? The end of the beginning? Across 50 states? How do you you wrap up 40,000 miles through 50 states and 110 columns over five months? Anything I write will seem anti climatic to me. But these are all just notes for a few books.

That last sentence bothers me. Someone asked me about success. I have actually become a mentor of sorts. I told them that one of the things you have to do is do everything well, the big things and the small things, from mopping the floor to creating art, from writing notes into columns to producing the book.

But I’m tired and want to finish this. Put a “period” on the end of the final sentence of this chapter.

The final column was really yesterday’s: Hiking to Papakolea. That’s where it really hit me. As the waves washed over me, the feeling did as well: I did it! The adventure of a lifetime, something I never thought I’d be able to do, with the sun beating down on me after a hike I wasn’t expecting to take, knowing the hike back would be a pleasure and surrounded by the azure waters of Papakolea. And it was all really done by accident. Are my tangents epic or what?

And then Covid hit, creating more tangents and adaptions, with me holding onto a tiny gift my cousin, Dawn, had bought me when I sold the lab: a bottle of those tiny umbrellas. The bottle went into the car with me along with everything else as I set out into Covid America. What’s the old saying? Life is 10% what happens and 90% what you do about it. I wasn’t doing too well with the stay at home thing, and knew others were not doing well with it either, so I decided to take the opportunity to set out across America. I’m not even sure when “All 50 states” became a goal.

I started to drive and just kept going. My original idea was three months and 18,000 miles.

America is truly a beautiful country, from all angles. I have my favorite spots but, to me, it is all about taste. There is not a single state I would not go back to and explore more. Each one has its unique beauty. You never know what you are going to find in the nooks and crannies. Even in your own backyard.

There is a different kind of tired now. And a different kind of excitement. And some pressure as I am faced with the question that the road allowed me to avoid: what’s next?

Sitting here in Seattle, I don’t know.

There is a difference, a sea change. A difference in posture and intent as I write. I’ve already started putting out feelers about work. The old professional gears are starting to churn. Squeaky, but beginning to grind. The lack of confidence of me ever being able to get in touch with an editor about the journey has been replaced with the confidence born of five decades of not only doing what needs to be done, but doing it well and doing it successfully.

I learned a lot about America on my journey. I learned about myself. I found pieces of myself all throughout the country and I collected them like others collect might collect shot glasses or spoons. Now, it is about finding a quiet place to settle down and start putting them all together.

But it is time to disconnect to reconnect. It is time to put away the GoPro, put away the camera, put away the columns and concentrate on what I need to do.