I had a very successful and fulfilling trip to the Seattle area these past few days. I saw some friends and took care of some business. Today I drove back to Eugene in snow and slushy rain, and, boy, am I ready to head south! Well, ready in parts of my head, anyway. There still remains a lot to be done, but I am ready to do it.
I've been reading a really great book the past few days: American Nomads by Richard Grant. I'd heard of Grant before. He's an Englishman who travels all over America, writing stories and books, sometimes on specific assignments, sometimes not. In this book, he writes about people like himself...folks with wanderlust. Some live as nomads because it's the lifestyle that fits the land where they were born, such as a desert. Others choose a nomadic life because they don't like or don't fit into society; others choose it because they want to live close to the land. Grant is a great storyteller, and he brings long-dead Conquistadors and Natives to life on the page, as much as he does the modern day nomads he meets in his travels...truckers, hitchhikers, RVers, etc.
A few times while reading, I've been reminded that my own deep desire to travel has been with me my whole life. My parents used to take us on long trips, usually camping along the way, sometimes staying in motels, and occasionally traveling by train instead of car. I've been told that when I was a year old, my parents camped with four kids from Minneapolis to Seattle and back, and I was teething the whole trip. Mom and Dad took turns rocking me in my baby buggy in the tent throughout the night. While we traveled during the day, the station wagon was piled high, with the upside-down buggy on top and the dishpan held firmly between the wheels. I guess more than one other traveler observed that my parents had brought everything, "including the kitchen sink!"
We took equally extensive trips just about every year while I was young, and I think it planted a seed or awoke my inner Viking or something. Then when I was about 10 years old, my folks bought a lake cabin in Wisconsin, and our vacations then consisted mostly of "going up to the lake," as they say in Minnesota. It was lots of fun, and we got out of town much more frequently--sometimes nearly every weekend throughout the summer, with several week-long stays mixed in. But going the same place all the time didn't satisfy my wanderlust. While I was a junior in high school, I asked my parents if we could go on one more camping trip before I headed off to college. They obliged and took me to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
Throughout most of my adult life, I've been too busy with school, work, and other responsibilities to travel as extensively as I need to. I'm not sure which of the quirky categories of nomads discussed in Grant's book I belong to. I just know that right now, at this point in my life, the urge to travel is very strong and I'm very fortunate that I'll soon be able to get on the road.
I'm beginning to fill in the outlines of places I'd like to go. In general, I'm looking at heading south for whatever remains of the winter once I can get going, and generally just soaking up the sun while learning how to live and work on the road. Then next spring, I'd like to take a trip up the mighty Mississippi and end up in Minnesota, where I was born and where most of my family still lives. I'd like to spend the summer in the Midwest and then head back to the Pacific Northwest next fall to check in with all of my family and friends here.