June 27, 2019
Hey, look at me writing a journal entry in an even-numbered month; that hasn’t happened all year up to this point. As per usual, retirement is busier than I ever expected. True, sometimes it’s busy with things that may seem non-productive, like watching a snowshoe hare out the back window, seeing it munching on the weeds growing there (it’s all weeds; we don’t have a lawn around our condo building and I’m fine with that), taking breaks now and then to wash its face with its paws, still transitioning from its white winter coat to its brown summer one. But from late May to early June, I was busy with one of my solo road trips, the pictures from which I just recently finished sorting through and posting on Flickr (which yes, I am still using because it’s just so hard to think about moving all the photos somewhere else and updating all the links I’ve put in journal entries over the years). If you’d just like to look at the photos, the album is here. For words, keep reading (hello, yes, I am a master of the obvious).
I left the mountain on a chilly and misty May morning. There were still some piles of snow here and there, though they were melting fast. I decided to take a different route to Montana than usual, one that added a not insignificant number of miles to the trip but which let me see parts of my new home state I hadn’t been through before, traveling along one edge of the Nez Perce Reservation and taking in views in the Nez Perce-Clearwater and Lolo National Forests. This part of the trip took far longer than Google Maps thought it would, as their algorithm has no idea how often I would find it necessary to stop and enjoy the scenery.
I got back to the usual freeway route around Missoula; from there it was a matter of looking at the weather and deciding which Dakota to traverse. I chose South, which ended up being more rainy than I’d hoped but my new travel companion, Bendy Sloth, and I took in the Corn Palace anyway.
The main reason for this trip was an arts and crafts conference in Chicagoland that I’ve done the past few years. Strangely for me, I took very few photos but filled my eyes and brain with ideas (and my belly with treats from the chocolate fountain at the opening reception). Did you know macrame is back? It is. I have no great desire to make a bunch of things to put around my house but I do enjoy the feel of tying knots, which I then untie and that’s almost as good, still meditative. Maybe I need to teach classes on my zen macrame approach. Maybe I will change my mind once my skills are better and I will cover cushions and walls with my work.
It’s hard to be so close to Michigan and not go visit for at least a day or two, so after the post-conference debrief with friends (can I call someone a friend if I only see the in person once a year? I think so) I zipped over to the Great Lakes state and packed as much as I could into the limited time I had â€¦ there’s never enough time to see everyone I want to. One of the things I did fit in was lunch with a friend who works in Detroit; I took an indirect route back to the freeway and stopped to snap some photos, including the mural below. I’m sure my neighbors in Idaho would think that very brave of me, maybe very stupid. Wait ’til I tell them I also had dinner in Dearborn, which many of them seen to think is some sort of Islamic state.
When I headed home, I again took a slightly different route than usual. This meant Bendy and I got to climb an observation tower in Iowa and take in the view.
When I struck off through Iowa, I had the idea I’d stay south and go home via Nebraska but when the time came to follow through on that notion, I decided I wasn’t up for more new things and just wanted to get home, so that’s how I ended up returning through South Dakota. I took the double rainbow I saw (and took many, many photos of) in Rapid City as a sign I’d made the right choice. (I love this particular shot as it makes it look like the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow is at the Golden Corral buffet.)
I know there will come a time when road trips, solo or not, will be a thing in my past. I hope I get to go on many more before that time comes.