Day 338 in Erie, PA

I checked in at this Red Roof Inn, grabbed some food, and took a nap around 6:30pm. So, of course, I’m laying in this not so comfortable bed tossing and turning at 2am. It’s cool. I’ll ramble a bit. 

The good news is I’ve got white noise in the form of Interstate traffic that’s rolling by like 50 feet outside my door. I wouldn’t stay here again. The Super 8 I stayed at in Maumee, OH was much more comfortable despite the pretzel, random pill, and quarter I found on the floor. None of which came from me. I took the quarter, but left the pretzel and pill. The pill was a gel cap of some sort. Maybe a Nyquil. Maybe Ibuprofen. No biggie. 

This Red Roof in was a bit confusing to get into. Go to the gas station, into the McDonald’s parking lot, then the parking lot for the motel appears. I had no desire trying to navigate around after parking, so I strolled over to a Country Bar and Grill to grab a burger. I left my e-cig back in the room, which slightly bummed me out because the place allowed smoking. I have no idea the last time I was in a place that allowed smoking. It made me want to get a pack of Reds and kick back with some rum and Coke for a few hours. But, I resisted the urge. Country music and bar flies are not my scene. Although… it was tempting. 

Driving is going well. Instead of using Google Maps to navigate, I’m using an old GPS thingy my parents had. It’s maps haven’t been updated since 2008, but it gets the job done. Okay, I did have to use Google Maps to figure out how to get into this Red Roof Inn, but that was it. 

Oh! Yesterday I found a Schlotzsky’s Deli. I miss having one of those nearby. Hmmm. Schlotzsky’s Deli and a place that allows smoking: small pleasures that show I really am not that hard to please. 

Today a stroller through the Glass Pavilion, which is part of the Toledo Museum. I saw some pretty cool glass art that got me more interested in working with glass. Of course, a lot of it was blown glass, which I don’t have the equipment for or know how to do — yet. Nonetheless, I’m inspired and have been thinking of stuff to try with the kiln. I really need to order some casting investment. 

There was a pretty neat stretch of I-90 going through Cleveland as it ran alongside Lake Erie. Part of me was thinking about driving down to the lakefront before continuing on my way, but I want to put in a lot of hours driving tomorrow, and I can’t imagine it’s much different than the lakefront at home. However there is a State Park here in Erie that looks like someplace I wouldn’t mind checking out at some point in time. Maybe if Dana and I drove out to Niagara Falls we could camp there or something… there and the Indiana Dune National Lakefront. Just some head gears spinning there. 

Tolls. Wow. I’ve burned through around $15 in tolls so far. Fortunately the IPass works with EZPass, so it doesn’t inconvenience the drive. Still, in Indiana and Ohio there are still gates to stop at. Those things used to bug me. There ya are going 70 mph; the lane lines disappear; a high speed scramble into a toll stall ensures: exact change? cash? where the fuck is that truck going? Window down; scrounge for change; the gate goes up; and it’s off to the races! Bada dum, Bada dum, Bada dum dum bum… still no lanes; zero to seventy in hopefully faster than that blue car; window up; hah truck’s too slow; lane lines appear; and back to smooth sailing. 

I downloaded a few audio books to listen to on the road, but I haven’t started listening to any of them yet. I also brought along an SD card with my entire 20,000 song library on it. But, the CDs in my 4 disk changer have served me just fine the past two days. Driving through Chicago/Gary are just too attention demanding for me. And much of the rest of Indiana was down to one lane due to road construction. I was looking forward to a nap while driving today, so that kept my brain occupied. 

I’m imagining the drive tomorrow should be pretty straight forward. It’ll be mostly one State: upper New York after a short jaunt through Pennsylvania. So, after I wake up, I’ll check out, stop for some eggamuffins at that McDonald’s, and gas up (all without leaving the parking lot). Then it’ll be time for an audio book and driving either until I hit Vermont or don’t feel much like driving anymore. I think I’ve got about six and a half hours to go. Doable. But, my knee is also starting to stiffen up, so there’s that. 

Eons ago when I was commuting to Racine from Watertown, my right knee was pretty much in constant pain. I went to a doctor. She was East Indian. While holding on to my feet she instructed me, “Push me in. Push me in.” It was a weird visit. I learned that maybe it was bursitis. She gave me a prescription for physical therapy and Ibuprofen. I just went with the Ibuprofen and moved closer to Racine. That knee has always given me grief, well since I was sixteen… too much activity (namely volleyball, running, or dancing marathons) and I’d spend the next little while limping. During that stupid commute, there ended up being days I could barely climb the stairs. I have long since discovered that being a couch potato is the best solution for keeping that knee pain free. Good thing that’s my default mode. 

Anyway, that and the fact that it’s nearing 3am has me thinking I probably won’t make it all the way to Vermont tomorrow. But I had a decent nap, and it’s still 8 or 9 hours until checkout time. We’ll just have to see what morning Justin decides. 

I should have just got back on the road when I woke up from my nap. But that’s okay. Being well rested and antsy is a good combination for getting back on the road. 

Thanks to Marvel Unlimited and my tablet, I was able to mindlessly peruse some comic books, oh and I also web surfed for awhile to learn about refractive indexes and optically clear epoxy adhesive. In other words, pretty much the same thing I do at home. 

Two days in, and I’m really happy I’ve taken this road trip. While I haven’t experienced any epiphanies or had a soul-finding revelation, I feel like some cobwebs are getting dusted away. It’s not so much a reboot, recharge, or fulfilled desire to get away. It’s just something about a road trip for the sake of a road trip: Mountain Dew, Payday bars, and rest stops. 

3:02am

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334

In a couple of hours it will be the third anniversary of the day I learned of my parents’ tragedy. 

Although I think about them and that day fairly constantly, I don’t have any new reflections to share to mark the occasion. Three years later and 334 days since I last “worked,” however, I am ready to spend more time looking forward. 

I like the ambiguity of that last sentence. I’m not saying “more time looking forward than caught in the past,” but I’m also not not saying that. It is comfortable and feels right to simply say I’m ready to spend more time looking forward. 

One way I’m doing that is to finally hit the road with only the most basic agenda of destination. Back in February I wrote about a road trip to Council Bluffs,  Iowa I took back in June 1999 (whoa… before the turn of the century). I’d link to that post, but I’m not quite sure how to do that easily on this here mobile app. 

I’ll be setting forth on a new road trip two more sleeps from now on Wednesday. Maybe three or four more sleeps, technically, since I tend to nap more than I sleep. Instead of Iowa, this trip will be to Vermont, but the trips are spiritually linked. 

The trip will be a solo venture. No Dana. No dog. That feels awkward to me for a few reasons: primarily because it seems Dana, as my wife and life partner, should be included on any adventures I embark upon. Second, the fact that I have the liberty to pick up and go whereas she does not causes me a bit of guilt. Third, I’m pretty used to having Maddux shadow me damn near everywhere I go, so I’m afraid I might start telling random people to go lay down if I think they’re looking at me for longer than a casual glance. 

But, I need to push those hesitations to the back of my mind and learn that partners need not be joined at the hip. Dana has been incredibly supportive and encouraging regarding this trip. I am fortunate to have her in my life. 

When I took the trip to Iowa 18 years ago, it was at the onset of a new chapter of my life: one full of hope and potential. I was finishing up my teacher education program and looking forward to student teaching, and the inevitable start to a professional career. It also marked the beginning of the roughly two year period of what I’ve come to view as a behavioral anomaly — when I was exceedingly social, upbeat, energetic, and carefree. 

I have long since returned to the much more natural state of lethargic, selective-social pragmatism that I wrap myself comfortably, if darkly, within. Fortunately, age and circumstance allow me to recognize carefree and reckless irresponsibility need not go hand in hand. 

Now I have left the teaching profession I was looking forward to starting, and I’m again optimistic about the future’s potential in the way only unknown anticipation can allow. It’s a bit like standing at the front of the queue as the cars pull up for a roller coaster you’ve never ridden before. You don’t know what to expect, but are pretty sure it will be exciting and enjoyable. 

So, that gleeful anticipation of life in general thematically link these two road trips. And as one came a tad before I started teaching while the other comes a tad afterward, the two road trips also seem to serve as bookends of that chapter of my life. Nice. 

That also makes this road trip an end as well as a beginning, and I so appreciate paradoxes when they occur in my life. 

Finally, these two trips are linked in terms of destination. Not geographical destination, obviously, since Iowa and Vermont don’t even have me going in the same direction from my Wisconsin base. Instead, the destination is the summons of a person first met at a Renaissance Faire in St. Louis oh so long ago, and been physically in the presence of less than a handful of times. But, that’s the way kindred spirits work, I suppose. 

The trip to Iowa was to sample a weekend Renaissance Faire in shared company. This trip to Vermont is to share a few cups of coffee in the same company. 

I will leave on Wednesday, approximately 30-36 hours from now. I have set a maximum deadline of being back on or before May 19th, although Injustice 2 becomes playable on Xbox May 16th, so I’ll probably strive to be back before then. 

10:41pm

Day 330

I am livid. 

Next steps in connection with the subject of my most recent blog are very difficult not to fully share details at this time. 

But, don’t worry (as if you are), it will be shared. It will be shared.