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This must be the place: Set of keys and a dusty suitcase, car wheels on a gravel road

Bloomingdale Bog Trail. (Garret K. Woodward photo) Bloomingdale Bog Trail. (Garret K. Woodward photo)

What’s that feeling the day before a big trip? More so, a road trip? Where you’re mulling over what to pack and what to not forget to do before you leave town — your friends and all things familiar now in the rearview mirror.

I always get so sentimental when I’m preparing to bounce from my humble abode to destinations unknown (and some known). What will my apartment feel like when I return at an undetermined time? What memories will be made that have yet to reveal themselves? Do I really have to tell the post office to hold my mail for a month or more? I don’t get much mail, anyhow.

Will the lady behind the counter at the coffee shop around the corner from my apartment still remember “the usual” order of mine when I wander back across the threshold of the business several weeks since my last visit? Breakfast sandwich. Iced coffee (with a shot of espresso). To that, should I shut the big window in apartment or leave it cracked a little bit to prevent the place from getting all musty? 

Let’s see — what to pack? Enough underwear and socks for at least five days. Few comfortable T-shirts. Jeans. Boots (hiking and dress). Shorts and jorts (cutoff jean shorts). Running clothes and shoes. Nice button up for certain occasions that may arise. Heavy flannel for certain weather that may rear its ugly head. Zip up the old road guitar with newly placed strings. Toiletries. Camping gear. Cooler. Check it all off. Pack lightly and with simple intents. 

Looking at the map, the initial route has shifted several times over the last few weeks, numerous possible itineraries along the endless lost highways and interstates across the great land we call America. The only anchor points (as of now) are Plattsburgh, New York; Burlington, Vermont; Ottawa, Canada; Detroit, Michigan; Lexington, Kentucky; and Nashville, Tennessee.

Everything else? Well, just like any worthwhile adventure in this all too crazy, wondrous world, we’ll just have to wait and see how the cards may fall in the midst of the “here and now.” Establish a few anchor points and proceed with endless curiosity and purposeful vulnerability. Oh, and a deep sense of gratitude, one radiating kindness to fellow humans — don’t forget, “kindness breeds kindness.”

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Plattsburgh, New York, for the wedding of two old friends on Labor Day Weekend. It’ll be a celebration for the ages, with countless beloved faces in attendance. That, and it’ll be nice to be back in my native North Country just as the slight crisp air of fall rolls in, the maple trees high up in the mountains starting to bust with color in their ancient rhythms. 

There’s also cold suds at the Monopole and Fourth Ward Club in downtown Plattsburgh with longtime cronies and new transplants to my hometown, and maybe a handful end-of-the-season “michigan hot dogs” (our version of a sauce dog) at Clare & Carl’s before they close the doors until next year. 

Who knows? If anything, there’s some hiking in order, with my sights aimed at peaks around the small mountain communities of Saranac Lake and Tupper Lake. Maybe even a night camping out of the back of my truck at Buck Pond, definitely an extended trail run down the Bloomington Bog Trail before a picturesque drive back into the Champlain Valley on Route 3. 

All of these thoughts and emotions ricocheting through the mind like fireflies on a sultry late summer evening. Embrace the excitement and soak in the anticipation, for each trip — by land, sea or air — is another opportunity to shed your emotional skin, and to wrap a new layer of intrinsic beauty around your soul filled with childlike wonder, a nod to the gods of all that is irresponsible enlightenment and eternal discovery. 

But, mostly, it’s about clearing the mind of any and all heaviness of the recent past. It’s those hundreds (thousands) of miles between doorsteps and parking spaces, that void of gasoline and pushing the pedal down where all the real work takes place within. The urge to keep going, keep the nose of the old truck aimed for the horizon. Don’t worry, there’s enough gas and will power to get there — wherever and whenever that may be.

Embrace what lies just ahead. Provoke the chaos, for it’s the only way we’ve ever known to properly navigate this universe, anyhow. Read through old poems written in haste in 2015 — these subconscious direction markers from some higher power signaling you from way down the road: 

“It is the western prairies/When I thought of what was/In the rearview mirror/In the cold, cold ground/In the miles not yet traveled/Fast burning rubber along silent nights/Hard pavement and rocks kicked down it/To the left is Ohio, onward to Maine and the Atlantic/To the right, Kansas, Utah and the mighty Pacific/Skipping stones into the unknown depths/They all sink, eventually/Some sparkle brighter from the bottom than others/The hand of fate reaches down and picks them up/Out of mere curiosity, perhaps even the idea of possession/And the notion that you can walk out the door any minute/So long as you never look at bills as reasons to get out of bed/Hard pavement and rocks kicked down it/When I thought of what was/And where you are today/And if you finally got what you wanted/And if it was worth it, all of it/Come hell or high water/It is the western prairies/Of scratchy AM radio/Of blood red sunsets/As if angels themselves slashed their wrists/Across the sky/Hard pavement and rocks kicked down it/In some quiet New Mexico town/Your mother was right/It truly is as beautiful a place as it is haunting .…”

Life is beautiful, grasp for it, y’all.

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1 comment

  • Always enjoy your travels...especially when I am part of them. . Xx

    posted by Kathy Woodward

    Sunday, 09/04/2022

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