As I leave NYC with my car packed full of clothes, food, camping gear, a bike and my camera, there is a billboard over the Holland Tunnel entrance that reads: “The rapture has been pushed until October, so no more procrastinating.” I couldn’t agree more – it’s time to stop thinking about the things I hope to do and time to start doing them! This trip has been percolating in my mind for several years, but has only started to come together in the last few weeks. Thankfully, many of the details work themselves out quickly – I sublet my apartment, pack, get my car prepared and myself ready (mentally at least) in just under a month.
I plan to spend the next two to three months driving around the Unites States and Canada on a spiritual and intellectual quest of sorts. Spiritual, because I will spend much time with myself in and around nature, which I have come to regard as my greatest teacher. Intellectual, because I hope to challenge myself, my stereotypes and assumptions and get to know this country (and some of Canada) in a way that I perhaps have not had the opportunity to do before.
Day 1, I make it (almost) through three states:
- New York (The Empire State)
- New Jersey (The Garden State)
- Pennsylvania (The Independence State)
New York and New Jersey are familiar, so I don’t notice much as I drive. Pennsylvania is a different story: the sky seems bluer and appears to open up wide; the clouds float above the rolling hills in repetitive patterns that make the landscape look surreal; and the roads are nice, smooth and open in this state. I want to relate my description of the PA roads to my spiritual well-being, but the first real question that comes up for me is: what are the ingredients of that pink soap I find at every rest stop bathroom? (it is the same pink stuff I see in every other part of the country) Is it really soap? And why is it so pink?
Day 2, I make it (almost) through another two states:
- West Virginia (The Mountain State) – okay, I was in the state for like 500 yards on I-70, but I was there
- Ohio (The Buckeye State)
My biggest disappointment of the day happens as I am about to pass from WV to OH and miss the Cabela’s outdoor superstore (I have been searching to no avail for a Coleman Ultimate cooler, which claims to keep ice for 6 days in 90 degree weather). Another day that my food stays in the grocery bags I packed them in. Oh, well, I guess there is always tomorrow.