Monday, June 27, 2011

Traveling West-by-North

It’s summer and I'm taking another “last big trip” - this time in a 25-foot Winnebago Minnie (class C) I’ve owned and enjoyed for ten years.  I bought it in 2001 after returning from Korea, and immediately took off across the country and up to Alaska, caravanning with my brother, Dick.  I had traded in the previous RV (a 21-foot Coachmen) before going to Korea in the summer of 1999, as down payment on this Minnie.  Minnie is older, now, as am I; my brother has had heart problems and no longer goes on trips with me; and caring for the vehicle has become increasingly difficult and expensive.  So I’ve decided to take one last trip across country, and then sell the RV afterwards – perhaps some time next year.  (My previous "last big trip," last summer, was to Europe and parts east - a long, loopy trip by plane, train, bus and boat to Europe - to England, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, France, Ukraine and Russia.  I'll transcribe journals from that later this fall.)
 On the present long, zigzag, loop-tour to the west and north of the U.S., I’ve been visiting friends and relatives while wending my way from Charleston, SC to Yellowstone National Park, where grandson Blake and I took a National Wildlife Federation tour, with the main purpose of viewing animals in the wild.  From there I’ve driven back to the Midwest, and will spend two or three weeks in Michigan during July, on the wild, remote property of my sister and brother.  After that, I’ll head back down south; that part of the itinerary allows for a repeat visit to daughter Lis and her family, as well as a chance to see a couple of cousins on the way.  I complicated this trip by a week-long stay in Denver (National Jewish Health), where they did a thorough work-up for my chronic respiratory condition, recently worsened (especially since the trip to India).  I also wanted to fit in a week-end at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival (just past) trying to polish a book proposal.
I kept a trip journal pretty faithfully during the first part of this trip, but didn’t have time to write after Blake joined me in Denver.  When he left by plane two weeks later, I stayed alone in Denver, but was very busy with the testing (including a bronchoscopy that truly wiped me out) and had no chance to catch up on trip impressions.  So I’ll have to reconstruct a few weeks of the trip from memory, notes and photos.  Once at my sister’s place in Michigan, I intend to stay put for a while and should have time to write up other cross-country sights and visits.  In the meantime, I’ll begin loading trip journals into this blog.
During the summer of 1969, my sister and I took a three-week road trip from Michigan as far west as Rocky Mountain National Park, just the two of us with our three children (ages 8, 9 and 13) in her station wagon pulling a pop-up trailer.  It was a wonderful trip for all of us; we spent time in the Black Hills, at Mesa Verde, in Bryce Canyon, as well as at several other wonders, both natural and human.  We saw the Rocky Mountains; we rode a narrow-gage railroad; and we visited frontier museums.  I will try to find the photo album with commentary from that trip when I return home.  Since retirement in 1996, I've taken several RV road trips across country, usually caravanning with my brother.  Each trip has been unique and has revealed unique facets of the amazing beauty and diversity - geological, historical, and cultural - in this country of which I am so lucky to be a citizen.

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