“I was surprised, as always, by how easy the act of leaving was, and how good it felt. The world was suddenly rich with possibility.”Jack Kerouac, On the Road
Echoes of the Past
Tara and I hit the road this afternoon, officially kicking off a new adventure — one that has echoes of the past for me.
I can’t help but marvel over the fact that I am (partially) retracing my
footsteps tread marks almost exactly 10 years after a similar journey. On June 22, 2011, I set out on a road trip to Ohio, and here I go again. The similarities are obvious, but it’s the differences that are most striking.
A decade ago I was slogging through an absolute low point in my life. Unemployed, single, struggling to keep my head above water. That spontaneous 13-day road trip was my attempt to reverse a serious case of restlessness and boredom, to find just a sliver of meaning in a life that felt like it was heading nowhere. I suppose cashing out a chunk of my 401(k) savings to finance the trip wasn’t the most fiscally responsible move I could have made, especially when simply paying for groceries was a weekly struggle, but damn if that trip didn’t end up being one of the most formative events of my adult life. It broke me out of the doldrums, sparked a love for adventure, and helped me rediscover my mojo.
It also brought me Tara and sowed the Rapid City seeds.
Because she and I were originally supposed to meet up during that trip. Thanks to an unexpected detour we weren’t able to, but our almost-rendezvous sparked a dialogue. Seven weeks later we did meet up, and what do you know? Neither of us ever really left.
As for Rapid City, I arrived there on my third day and was so enamored with my former home, I switched up my itinerary to spend an extra day in the Black Hills. I even entertained the possibility of moving there someday if all the stars aligned. Can’t say I ever imagined they actually would, though.
So, here I am, a decade older. But also wiser, richer, and happier. Seems like a fair trade-off. While the blacktop looks familiar, everything else is different. Instead of a hundred CDs, I’ve got Spotify. My Garmin GPS has been supplanted by an Android Auto-fueled Google Maps.
And, of course, I’ve got a lovely passenger this time around. It’s so much more fun to do this with company!
Blogging from the road has become a tradition. In 2011, I titled my trip posts Getting My Griswold On, in honor of my Vacation-ing hero. I kinda think of Tara as the Ellen to my Clark, so naturally, I’m calling the sequel Getting OUR Griswold On.
Hope you enjoy the ride!
Thankful for a Late Start
I ended up working through my lunch hour the last two days so I could leave at 3:00. Sioux Falls is 5+ hours from Rapid City, plus we lose an hour thanks to Central time, so we wanted to leave as early as possible to avoid rolling in at midnight. It was Tara’s idea to work through two lunches; even though it was the last day of the month, which can be hectic in the banking industry, she said her workload wasn’t too bad and she should be able to leave early.
You know how this story ends, right?
Of course she was hit with some last-minute paperwork. She didn’t get home until 4:15, so we ended up leaving an hour later than planned. Annoying, to be sure. But three hours later we arrived in Chamberlain, on the Missouri River, hungry and needing to gas up. And it just so happens, we timed our arrival so perfectly, we were treated to the following sight:
Of course, “timing it perfectly” implies the whole thing was planned. In reality, catching that sunset at the exact right time was dumb luck.
Chamberlain has the nicest rest area of any I have ever seen. Situated on a bluff, overlooking the Missouri River, and home to Dignity of Earth and Sky, a sculpture paying homage to the Native American culture that is so deeply ingrained in this part of the country.
So, a very fortuitous start to our trip! We’re already having a blast…and it’s barely begun.
We arrived at our hotel in Sioux Falls at 11:00 p.m. Had to drive down I-90 in the dark those last two hours, but this was the only stretch of our trip that will require any night driving.
Tomorrow will be the longest travel day of the trip: it’s 9 hours and 20 minutes to Champaign, Illinois. Add another hour plus for the requisite stops, of course. Still, we plan to get an early start, so we should arrive at a fairly decent time.
See you tomorrow!