We’ve been on the road now for nine weeks, and I thought I’d set down a few non-profound reflections on the journey so far. Of the nine weeks, we’ve been at the water for seven of them: On the Maine Coast in Harpswell, Southwest Harbor and Lubec (the most eastern part of the U.S.); on the Moosehead River in Greenville, Maine; and currently at Rood Pond in Brookfield, Vermont, where we will be for another week. Nothing against Colorado, but the ocean beats out the mountains for relaxation and reflection any day.
So, here are the thoughts:
1. When you leave town for a year, leave as soon as possible after deciding. Stretching the departure out for three months was a big mistake, all the more time for problems to percolate.
2. It’s not necessary to remind yourself several times a day that you no longer have a real home. You know that. Get over the fact that every few nights you have a different pillow, there is lousy Wi-Fi or cellphone reception, or, for me, no Starbucks. Get used to weak coffee and stale rolls at the “continental breakfasts” at Super 8 and Motel 6. It’s all part of the game.
3. People are really, really strange, and have proved to be more interesting than most of the sights along the way. We take the kids everywhere with us, and strangers come up and say things like, how old are they? Are they for sale? Why aren’t they in school? One young boy caught their eye, and excitedly pointed them out to his mother, who, after shooting them an unfriendly glance, said, “Don’t stare, dear, it’s not nice.” Another lady stopped by our table and rearranged Ann and Andy in the bag to make them more comfortable. We wondered if we would get busted for leaving them inside a hot car. At breakfast one morning at the Driftwood Inn in Harpswell, one woman stopped by to chat and invited the kids to come to her school in Racine, Wis., and speak to her students about their experience.
4. Climate change is a hoax. Even with separate climate controls in the new Honda CRV, the dispute over the proper temperature in the car continues unabated. One pushes the fan up, the other down; air conditioning on, air conditioning off. I think the driver should have final say, but that may be because I do most of the driving.
5. Give in and accommodate for peace and overall well-being. Julya can spot a bakery over the hill, and she can smell a thrift store a mile down the road. Factor the time for stops into your travel planning. It’s not worth resisting, and she generally comes up with something good. She’s been on the hunt for a just the right size tea pot since the day we left town, and insists she can find the best deal in a thrift store. Frankly, thrift stores make me depressed, even the nice ones. I can’t try on a sports coat without thinking that the guy who owned it is probably dead.
6. We don’t yet know where we’re going when we leave Vermont on the 26th of this month. At times it’s exciting, other times a little unsettling. It’s what we wanted, though, and the way we planned it, so we try to stay on the upside of it. The one key element: staying warm. Nothing ever below the 50s during the day. Which means it may be time to begin heading south.
7. Don’t worry about money. If we run out, we’ll just have to come home early and get jobs.
8. Take time to do nothing. Even then I work on my novel, which, by the way, is coming along swimmingly, with the able editorial assistance of Julya. I’ve written 160 pages and am thinking it may be time to send it to my agent for the “New York take” on it. Always a risky proposition.
9. Watch expectations. I had hoped that once we were on the road life would begin to slow down a little, from the speed of light to the speed of sound. Unfortunately, the days are whipping by as fast as before. One day, I expect, I’ll wake up and the journey will be over.
My next blog is entitled: Idiots, whack jobs and criminals: The people who don’t like the kids.
Harry at building in downtown Montpelier, taken by Julya.
Harry outside a tavern in Burlington, taken by Julya.