Distance: 12,685 miles
Pictures: 6,044 (not culled and many of the shots where photo streams)
Well dear readers, this is my last entry for my walkabout. This past Thursday (last day on the road) started with a scrumptious breakfast with my parents and brother Steve at a local pancake house in Amarillo. After, I picked up US 287 going south towards Dallas/Fort Worth. At Rhome, I turned east onto SR 114 for the final leg of my odyssey. I got home a little after 5 PM, my sojourn complete. It's good to be home.
I promised my observations regarding my wandering. I know I've forgotten a ton of observations but the one's below stuck out enough to recall. So here we go in no particular order:
Next time, I very much would prefer a jeep or something similar for transportation. Ole Blue took a beating and she performed magnificently. But there were a few times I got in trouble though not life threatening (I think) which could have ended, uhhh, not optimally for me. At the least, it could have taken a day or more out of the trip to rescue Blue (and myself). As it was, I wasted a better part of a day treating maladies Blue was suffering from. In Blue’s defense, some of the issues would not have been mitigated by a true SUV.
The damage tally:
• 2 windshield chips --- Hopefully insurance will cover the second one
• 1 broken strut --- Warranty will cover
• 2 alignments --- Warranty will cover one. The other was on my dime
• 3 tire balances/rotations --- one balance/rotation on my dime, the others from warranty
• 4 new tires --- Warranty should cover (fingers crossed), pro-rated
• 1 front air deflector --- My dime
• 1 medium size dent in hood --- My dime though I doubt I will fix it. It gives Blue some character
• Numerous scratches --- Most buffed out. The remaining scratches I will probably leave (the character thing again)
As you can see, the repairs shouldn’t be the end of the world for us. Thank God I had an extended warranty on my car. I think the strut replacement would have been expensive.
I had no epiphanies or enlightenments. There was no choir of angels singing with the sun breaking through the clouds and a booming voice declaring “BOB, I WANT YOU TO…”. That's just as well. I don't think Kim would have appreciated some watery tart throwing a sword at me and then commanding me to build an ark or lead people out of bondage. (yes, yes. I know I’m mixing myths. It just looked damn funny when I was writing it down).
I really didn't expect enlightenment (though I did try in Colorado). I think to receive some universal secret, something bad has to happen first, right? Such as a bear attack leaving me for dead or that I’m stuck in a random ravine with one arm in the way of freedom… Then, and only then, would a universal truth have been revealed; such as always keep your phone charged, bear spray only works if you carry it with you or the number 42. So be it. A revelation or two would’ve been nice though...
One really cool thing I discovered is Classic Radio (on SiriusXM) which played shows from the 30s, 40s and 50s. Those shows were truly entertaining, if a bit simplistic at times (ok, a lot of the times). Often, it was amusing hearing the science fiction shows display a terrible grasp of science. It was obvious that they never consulted with scientist of that era (how they can mix up the concepts of a solar system vis-a-vis a galaxy is beyond me). Other radio observations I had:
• While some of the racial characterization where cringe inducing, Rochester was freaking funny. To listen him spar with Jack Benny was hilarious and he gave as good as he got.
• Surprisingly, most of the shows were sympathetic to the plight of the Native Americans. Many of the western shows dealt with the injustices being visited upon the Indians. Apparently during the time-frame of the 30s, 40s and 50s, there already was an awareness of just how badly screwed the Indians were by the "white man" that I’d never realized existed (at least in Hollywood).
• Despite the radio show sympathies there were hypocrisies, the most obvious being that none of the Indians where played by Native Americans. Equally appalling were the actors’astoundingly atrocious accents. There was one particular show that had me nearly crashing the car because I was laughing so hard: the chief would talk with a deep booming voice while using bad Shakespearean grammar (think of words like thou, hast, ye, etc mixed with transposed sentence structures). I'm not sure what the director or the other actors where thinking, but I hope that at least they were wincing at the simultaneous destruction of English, Shakespeare and Native American cultures.
• By far, my favorite show was Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar
, "the freelance insurance investigator with the action-packed expense account". The show was awesome! Who would ever have thought you could make insurance exciting (including his expense account entries)? Hmmm… maybe my next career will be as an insurance claim investigator. I need to look into that more 😊
• It was way cool listening to the likes of Frank Sinatra, Jack Benny, James Stuart, Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, and other famous actors play villains, cowboys, investigators and other dramatic or comedic rolls.
30 days was not enough time to see everything. I really really wish I could have spent more time in the Pacific Northwest, especially the rain forest. However, 30 days was enough time to "get away from it all" and towards the end of my trip, I was eager to get home and be with my family.
I waaaaaaaay over-packed, clothes being the most egregious example. I only changed every 4 or 5 days and those changes were timed with showers I took. Before I hear any retching noises, I’d like to remind everyone that I was traveling by myself. 😊
Some other brief observations (since Grandpa Williams said no one wants to be lectured to):
• I didn't see the Arctic Ocean or the Northern Lights. Unfortunate, but I’ll live.
• Outside of one day of vampire bug attacks, blood sucking insects were not a serious problem.
• There was only 3 sunny, non-raining days. I liked it, expect when setting camp up at night, cooking or breaking camp in the morning. Luckily, most days only had light misty rain.
• It was never warm except when I was at Whidbey Island and then, only briefly. Hell, even when I was traveling through Nevada and Utah the temperature never got above 60. Surprisingly, the cold never really bugged me.
• This trip has reinforced my conviction that the best time to travel and to go on holiday is off-season. For me, crowds detract from my enjoyment. Having the roads, trails and campgrounds mostly to myself was completely and utterly awesome. Yes, I know I’m anti-social. And yes, sometimes my options became limited or, in a few situations, were completely unavailable (the Arctic Ocean tour being a prime example). I still prefer to travel off-season.
• State parks are a great alternative to national parks. I consistently had better camping access from state and provincial parks then I did from national parks. Don't get me wrong, national parks are fantastic and offer the more scenic views, but for off season camping, state parks were always much more available and the vistas were almost as good.
• I love camping. It has literally been more than 30 years since I last camped and I had forgotten how much fun it was. I'll definitely do more camping.
• Sunset at 11:30 PM and sunrise at 2:30 AM S-U-C-K suck. I mean it really sucks. Did I mention how much it sucks?
My final remark. Blogging is damn hard. I’ve definitely enjoyed writing for you guys, but if I had to do it over again, I’m not sure I would blog. My sister in law wrote a popular movie review site for a few years. She was very good. I never really understood why she quite doing it. I understand now. The days I blogged (which were most days) I spent a minimum of 2 hours and on several occasions over 4 hours writing the blog. The biggest culprit was internet access. I spent so much time trying to load pictures, blog entries, maps, etc. that it became an exercise in frustrations trying to use the bandwidth available. Looking for hotspots was also a source of frustration. It didn't help that I am somewhat of a perfectionist or that my prose doesn’t just roll off my tongue. Next time I travel, I will allocate time specifically for blogging (I threw blogging in my plans at the last second for this last trip -- of course everything was last second) and then maybe blog every other day or so. We’ll see.
I have a lot of work to do on the photos and videos I took. After I cull and clean them up I will post them for your enjoyment (or ridicule). I will try to keep them to a reasonable number.
So there you have it. From Dallas/Fort Worth I traveled through much of North America, to places I have never seen. I took mostly small highways and back-roads to fantastic locations. I spent most nights outdoors (with only a few exceptions) in temperatures ranging from the teens to the 50s sleeping on the edge of rivers, lakes, bluffs, ancient stands of trees and other gorgeous backdrops. This truly was a trip of a lifetime and I will most definitely to do this again. Perhaps when I’m 60. Seriously. 😊
Thanks for following.
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