It was supposed to have been Costa Rica. Or it could have been Panama. Maybe Ecuador, or even Nicaragua. Our long planned journey of a lifetime: to experience the joys of eternal spring, high in the green coffee mountains of Boquete; or, to awaken at dawn in the Osa to the calls of the howlers and distant echoes of exotic birds taking wing, unseen, hidden from human view by a lush, and emerald green jungle canopy; to walk unhurriedly alongside a meandering river past university students bustling between classes across campus in the world heritage city of Cuenca; to travel to a place where the land ends, where the hypnotic rhythm of the Pacific has beckoned the great humpback whales to swim thousands of miles to bear and nurture their young.
Yes, we certainly had grand plans. After years of patient planning, Lee’s hard-earned retirement at last firmly in hand, it was our time. The only thing we hadn’t planned for was the cancer that stole away her life before we could embark on our next joint adventure. I’m left with unfinished business down in those parts that I one day must attend to.
Now, going on three years since Lee has been gone, I am nearly ready to embark on a revised adventure. This time, along with my faithful travel companion, Lola the pup, I am hitting the road for two months and change to take the measure of the great American southwest. I plan to keep a journal of sorts, featuring our sights, sounds and escapades. My plan is to report some of these back to you fine folks in due course as time and opportunity allow.
The notion of maintaining a road journal is hardly an original idea. If I recall correctly, some years ago there was this fella named Steinbeck, who wrote about a road trip that he made with his dog. If, as I have heard, 60 is the new 40 (see https://www.theguardian.com/society/2022/feb/09/old-age-why-60-is-the-new-40), then I calculate Steinbeck and I will have been roughly the same age on our respective departure dates. Unfortunately, except for our ages, and our dogs, the comparisons end there.
Put simply, sand runs through the hourglass, time waits for no one, and it’s now or never. Choose your own aphorism.
This trip is something I must do. Short of serious illness or some other calamity, not traveling is not a viable option for me.
I am fairly certain that Robyn felt disappointed when I first announced some months ago my intention to travel this winter. If so, then her feelings would have been understandable given the possibility my extended absence might disrupt our tight, sweet connection. Fortunately, in the interim, the bond between us has only grown stronger and sturdier, so much so in fact that I hazard to say at this juncture that my temporary absence can’t affect it at all. Indeed, it is a truism that absence makes the heart grow fonder.
So, you might ask, “Why will you be traveling with your dog in lieu of your woman?” Well, for one thing, Robyn still works, whereas Lola, while also adorable, basically is shiftless. For another, Robyn has immediate family here that she feels that she must attend to on a day-to-day basis. I am not sure why this is so, but am convinced she is neither mentally nor emotionally prepared at present to pull stakes, even temporarily, to take an extended trip like mine.
Let me make clear, however, this is not a simple either/or proposition. There is room in my Subaru for the three of us to travel together comfortably!
As for myself, I aim to travel as lightly as possible. Yet, as I glance at my staging area down here in the basement, the operative qualifying phrase is, “as possible.” Clothing should be the easiest segment: basically, two of everything and nothing too fancy. I have my share of necessary medical equipment, health supplies and sundries, a reminder that, despite being in excellent health and young at heart, I am in fact a senior citizen. Then, there are my playthings: a hollow body (jazz) electric guitar, one of several guitars that I own, a small tube electric amplifier, two brand new pickleball paddles and four balls, courtesy of Robyn (I both intend to learn to play and play), maybe my racquetball equipment, racquet, goggles, balls, etc., too, a high quality day pack and walking stick for hiking, and accoutrements, including sheet music, guitar picks, sweat headbands, a water bottle, a reliable compass and emergency whistle on a string. And, of course, no one travels anyplace these days without carrying a computer, a phone, and electrical connections. (So many last-minute items!)
Lola’s has her playthings, too, as well as a new, 30-pound bag of dry dog food, her favorite food dish, a collapsible travel water bowl, a leash, monthly flea and tick medicine, a roll of poop bags. Quite naturally, she will have abundant dog treats at her disposal!
I plan to take any food I do not throw out by the time I hit the road: an open box of Special K, a few potato chips and pretzel nuggets, a 3-pound bag of Cuties, about a half-dozen Honeycrisp apples, crackers and several varieties of cheese.
I mustn’t forget to bring along one or two rolls of paper towels for the road. Make a note.
Robyn is coming to my place later today. After spending the next several days cozily together, come Monday morning, while it is still dark outside, we will simultaneously hit the road. While Robyn heads off to the gym, her home, or her job, Lola and I will be getting an early jump on the day.
Let the adventure begin.