A Sort of Homecoming

(I’ve tried writing this 3 times. This is attempt four.)

And you know it’s time to go
Through the sleet and driving snow
Across the fields of mourning
Light in the distance

At some point this coming summer, most assuredly during one of the "J" months, I will be taking a road trip from Burleson, TX to North Kingstown, RI.  About 1800 miles amounting to 26 or so hours.

At my destination, I will be meeting my 4 siblings as we place mom’s ashes in their final resting place.

A cursory search on Google maps shows that, in addition to Texas and Rhode Island, I will be driving through Arkansas, Tennessee, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York, and my birth state of Connecticut. 

So why drive?  I don’t have a fear of flying, but I cannot stand airport hassles, even if they are necessary.  Plus, I smoke and smokers do not do well in airports or on planes.  And I haven’t taken a vacation in years, so I’d like to see as much of the country as I can.

Chances are good that the route I’ll be traveling is very similar to the way taken when the family moved to Texas in 1975.  But it will still be new to me since I was 5 years old then and have not a single memory of that trip except for seeing the sign of the Western Place when we first got to our new town.

(Side note:  I swear “I’ve Been Everywhere” just started playing on my iPod.)

So let’s see just where my drive will take me.

Little Rock:  Stayed here once before while on a road trip with my friend Mark.  I got out of my bed in the middle of the night to pee, and an hour or so later, Mark noticed I was still in there.  Hesitantly, he went to check on me and found me asleep (fully clothed) in the bathtub.  Unable to wake me, he tossed a blanket over me and went back to sleep.

Memphis:  Drove through here once and remember thinking it was the dirtiest city I had ever seen, even edging out Shreveport, LA.  Maybe I’ll have a different perspective this time.  Also, I feel it is important to note that I am not an Elvis guy at all, so a Graceland detour is not in the cards.

Nashville:  For all my travels in the southern states, I have never been to Nashville.  Looking forward to driving through here.

North Carolina is tantalizingly close, but not on my route.  On the way back, maybe I’ll take a detour just to add another state to the list.

Roanoke:  This looks to be the largest city in Virginia that I’ll drive through.  Or around, actually, based on my trip map.  The scenery through this entire state looks to be great, however.  As a kid I was fascinated with atlases, especially the roads that had red dots along side them.  That meant they were scenic routes.  I’ll bet I-81 through Virginia had those dots.

Maryland:  Will drive through Hagerstown.  This was noted just to set up a future joke*.

Pennsylvania:  Harrisburg looks to be the highlight here, so at least I’ll drive through the capital.  Of course, I’ll also go through Strausstown, so if Maryland slacks don’t make me stop*, maybe Pennsylvania jeans will.  Sure, I know this is not the home of the famous jeans maker, but if this is near Amish country I’ll bet I can get a pair made by someone named Levi.  I’ll just pay in dried beans.  Oh, and Allentown is also on the route.  Thanks a lot, Billy Joel.

New York:  First stop, Suffern!  I’ve got to try their succotash.  And that’s about it for this state, other than crossing the Hudson.  I won’t be in New York very long.

Connecticut:  My place of birth, though I’ll get nowhere near my first town.  I will, however, drive pretty much the entire length of the state with ample opportunities to see the Atlantic for the first time on this trip. 

Rhode Island:  Where I will eat nothing but seafood.  I will buy boxes of Kenyon’s clam cake mix, and maybe a bottle or two of coffee syrup.  I might even buy some lobsters.  You know, things that are much easier to tote home in my Jeep instead of in luggage.  By the way, I’ll drive through Exeter, which was recently part of an episode of Travel Channel’s “Mysteries at the Monument”.  The grave of a teenage vampire?  We shall see.

If you’ve lasted this long reading this, I feel like I should give you a little more insight.  Like the fact that I still haven’t really accepted my mom’s passing.  That’s why I have yet to write about it, other than that short, tear-stained, preachy entry.  And maybe that’s why I’m driving and not flying.

I’ll have 1800 miles on the trip home for it to finally sink in.

And you hunger for the time
Time to heal, desire, time
And your earth moves beneath
Your own dream landscape

clam cakes


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