After this past Winter I have resolved that next year, I am getting out of Dodge. It is not merely the frequent snowstorms, or the relentless cold, or the shearing wind, or the constant overcast skies and dreary days, or the mess on the ground, or even the necessity of layers of heavy, cumbersome weather gear that one wears to cope with all of it. There is also the uncomfortable truth that, being a relative old man, I might run out of juice at any moment.
* * *
Our retirement plan always involved getting out of Dodge. Remarkably, Lee and I were in general agreement regarding both the duration of our intended winter hiatus and its general destination some place in Central or South America. For the last ten years of Lee’s life, I would regularly float my travel ideas, mostly daydreams, really, while sitting together with her at the counter to cap off another delicious dinner, or just relaxing on our rear deck in warm weather to enjoy a cold beverage and survey Lee’s gardens in their early summer glory. However, a few of my ideas must have resonated with her because within reason Lee approved.
And I loved researching these exotic places for us to visit. I always liked planning our trips. The only problem was that I had no plan for what to do if Lee died, which she did.
* * *
I have just started to conduct my research for the state-side adventure that I will be implementing early next year. Then, Lola the pup and I will take our own Great American road trip, from here to the American Southwest, where we will “winter” for a coupler of months in a place that, to my way of thinking, at least, has no Winter.
This time it is more than idle chatter. I have made a down payment. I have reserved a casita. As you can see, I am thus fully committed.
In the brief time since making this serious commitment, I have determined a general travel route for Lola and me– out of a total of almost two thousand miles of road possibilities from which we might choose. By my count, as presently constituted, we will be passing through six states. Indeed, were I so inclined, by simply adding one or two more states, we could retrace the original Route 66 all the way to California. However, it is not likely to happen on this initial expedition.
Fortunately, even the truncated version of Route 66 I have in mind will take us past many potential sightseeing opportunities, including: the world’s tallest arch; a traffic-congested gauntlet of tawdry and tasteless tourist traps; one national memorial; “historical” stockyards; hot air balloons; a high road; crooked streets, and, last, but not least, adobe huts. Suddenly, I can hear the old Simon and Garfunkel tune, “America,” rumbling through my head:
“Counting the cars on the New Jersey Turnpike
They’ve all come to look for America…”
I smack my lips at the mere thought of the evenings to come when I can spend my leisurely time taking a deeper dive into such tourist delights. To paraphrase a famous Hobbit, I feel quite ready for another adventure. Now is that time.
* * *
From tracing our anticipated travel route across a map, I can see that this is going to be one looong drive! Once many years back, I drove straight to Boulder, Colorado with two friends. It had not seemed a stupid idea at the time, but it does now. More to the point, I no longer possess the youthful exuberance that I needed then to push through the inevitable lulls that occur along the road. For all the romantic notions that might still surround old Route 66, it was one monotonous drive over hundreds of miles, heading off into nowhere. And today, it remains one long and monotonous drive heading off into nowhere, albeit one that is more convenient thanks to a modern interstate highway system.
No, based on the sheer distances involved, I must plan to shelter overnight along the way so that Lola and I can grab some needed rest. And, truth be told, my night vision is not what it was as a younger man. In fact, without my specs I am very night blind, especially on unfamiliar roads.
* * *
Although I visited the place one time, as of this moment I still know virtually nothing about my chosen destination, save that it supports a large state university and that lots of cactus grows there. The area’s topography consists of desert terrain and low mountains.
Fortunately, I already know a few folks who reside there, so I will not have to discover everything fresh for the first time. For example, they already have directed me to visit the “best” bookstore, the “cutest” café for morning coffee, and the most well-provisioned shopping center where I will get my groceries and sundries. I suppose their helpful tips will spare me a bit of trial and error. However, to my way of thinking, when it comes to exploration and discovery, a little trial and error is not necessarily a terrible thing.
* * *
I will leave it to Robyn to explain her reasoning, however, what I can tell you is that it does not appear she will be coming along on our junket. It is still a long time from today to Zero Hour and a lot could still happen, I suppose. If there is one thing I have come to realize in my life, it is that one never really knows how things are going to turn out in the end. After having grown close to Robyn, so that it is hard for me to imagine what it will be like to be alone without her, I am ambivalent about our agreed separation for such an extended period, despite the fact I know that it is only temporary.
And I am certain that Robyn has her own quiet misgivings. Nevertheless, she respects my position and remains supportive of the venture because she, too, appreciates that there is a powerful now-or-never component to the plan.
* * *
Have I mentioned yet that I have grown tired of winters?