It Really Was a Big Country

When it was all said and done, I was ready to be done. Six months on the road will do that to you. Motels and a minivan get old.

I stood in the middle of Alaska Highway 2, holding a beer and staring up at the sky. Overhead, lights shimmered. People say the Northern Lights "dance," and this is a good description. They seemed playful, vanishing and reappearing.

I drove 15,000 miles and flew to Hawaii and Alaska. Hiked along the border of Mexico. Camped Joshua Tree, Olympic National Park, the Great Smokies. Explored the Outer Banks and New Orleans. Finally ate Austin BBQ. Visited the Grand Canyon. Gambled it up in Vegas. Wandered through enormous Redwood groves. Drove the Pacific Coast Highway. Explored wild beaches in Big Sur.

Somewhere in Texas, months earlier, I'd decided this was how it had to end. A vision of the finish, now complete. The aurora borealis was the last step. 

For as long as I could recall, I'd wanted to see the northern lights. There was no guarantee -- you need clear skies, strong auroral activity, and darkness. But just above the Arctic Circle, north of Fairbanks, I lucked into perfection. As had happened so many times along the way.

When it was over, I was ready. The trip west took almost six months, but I drove from Seattle back to Washington in seven days and knocked out the final 1,300 miles in a single sleepless stretch that spanned two days.

A couple of weeks ago I accepted a job cooking in a restaurant. I went to culinary school years ago, but opted to continue in journalism. But I'm curious about restaurants and how they operate, and so this should be interesting.

I've also put Conspiratorial up as an eBook for the Kindle, and am working on a new series of short stories.

Change is hard, and immediately searching out a new job in journalism was certainly an option I felt drawn to. But I didn't tear down the old life to rebuild it exactly the same. Repetition is not motion, and growth, adventure and change all require risk.

While travelling, I worried about finding the next step. But there's always something next. No need to worry. Just keep moving.

Posted on May 1, 2014 .