Somewhere out west.
It's just over 6,000 miles round trip.
Why a road trip? Well, we have a car that gets fantastic gas mileage (so that, actually, gas will cost about the same that it did on my 2002 road trip in a Jeep Cherokee), plane tickets are very expensive these days, and to take two trips with two plane tickets, or even one plane ticket to Portland, plus a rental car to drive to Reno and back to Virginia would end up costing far more in the long run, by my calculations. Plus, I'm just tired of flying. I've been flying my whole life, but I think passengers are getting meaner and nastier to each other, customer service has gone way down, and personal passenger space has become inhumane, even before people start putting their seats back into my lap (a practice I think should be banned except on red-eye flights). I plan to travel all over the world in my life, and that will certainly involve flying, but why torture myself if I don't have to?
Anyway, I'm going on this road trip, and I am a bit nervous and a bit excited and a bit reluctant and a bit delighted. I'll get to see lots of friends and family I love...
I think this is my dad.
...and meet people I've never met but can't wait to meet, and see scenery I've never seen before and add to the list of states I've visited (Montana, maybe? Idaho? South Dakota?), and possibly see Mount Rushmore and maybe step foot onto the Laura Ingalls homestead and definitely visit Powell's City of Books, which I've longed to visit ever since I first heard of it years and years ago.
Highway 36 in Northern California
And I'll have hours of thinking time on the way out west, which will be nice. I've spent a lot of time getting music ready to download onto my new iPod. But, even better, I've found LibriVox, a magnificent site of free recordings of public domain literature (a big thank you to all the people who are willing to donate their time and energy to make something like this available to the world).
Now I have downloaded so many hours of books and poetry that I might not be listening to any music at all.
* Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne
* Buccaneers and Pirates of Our Coasts by Frank Richard Stockton
* Treasure Island and Foreign Lands by Robert Louis Stevenson
* Mountains of California by John Muir (for when I'm driving through those same mountains)
* Andersen's Fairy Tales by Hans Christian Andersen
* Gawayne and the Green Knight by Charlton Miner Lewis
* Sailing Alone Around the World by Joshua Slocum
* Song of Wandering Aengus by William Butler Yeats
* Ulysses by James Joyce
and finally, a bunch of poetry by Christina Rossetti, T.S. Eliot, Edgar Allen Poe and Tennyson.
This, my friends, is why I am so excited to have an iPod. Because now I will be a captive audience for all those books I've been meaning to read. There were so many more to download, and so many authors, including Jane Austen, Shakespeare, Mark Twain, Herman Melville and on and on. I'm still not sure I'm finished downloading; I'm torn between Mansfield Park, Moby Dick and The Picture of Dorian Gray.
So this brings us to the burning question of the day: if you listen to a book, can you then say you've read that book? Ah, modern technology and the dilemmas it poses.
And now back to the road trip -- I don't have a laptop and will have only sporadic access to any computers, so I'll be out of sight for a while, but I will be back in mid-August with, I hope, lots of photos and some tales to tell.
(Like the time I was driving through New Mexico, in the middle of nowhere, listening to the song "The Lighthouse Tale" by Nickel Creek, when, in the middle of desert that stretched as far as I could see, I passed a street sign for Lighthouse Lane... mere coincidence?)
OH: and I almost forgot, for those who are as fascinated by word roots and meanings as I am, here is a site that looks into the linguistic and mythological origins of the names of the characters and other words used in the Harry Potter series... J.K. Rowling clearly put a lot of thought into the names she used.