I’m giving up.  It is something I don’t do often. I’m just overwhelmed with guilt.

It has been almost a year, and I’m not going to finish writing up elegant blogs posts for each stage of last year’s road trip. Every time I go to write a post about anything else, I don’t, because I think “I should really catch up.” Enough is enough. I need to be writing. What follows is a digest of the memories that stick out many months later. I got pictures of some of it, but as I was solo driving, so much of this is just memory.

I’ll start by saying Chinchin behaved very well, on the whole. She doesn’t like being pushed around by heavy winds. In a few spots, white knuckles holding on to the steering wheel for dear life, thankful for mostly empty roads, I found myself yelling “Stop IT! Just STOP!” at the wind. We would suddenly find ourselves a few feet outside our lane to one side or another. We also had to stop in Sweetwater, TX for the night so she could get new brake pads (Chinook didn’t upgrade the brakes on the Toyota trucks when they added all the extra weight, so they don’t last long.) Otherwise, she was a trooper, often maintaining 70 – 75 mph on open stretches of highway. She really seemed to love a little fuel additive, so I fed her little baby bottles of the stuff with almost every tank of gas.

So, the things I remember in no particular order…

  • Somewhere between Chattanooga and the coast, a strong thunderstorm came up. After such an intense drought in CA, this much water falling from the sky felt miraculous. I was low on gas, worried about the back leaking, and a little concerned about possible tornados, so I pulled into a gas station with a big awning and just marveled at the amount of water coming out of the sky.
  • Pulling into a parking garage in Atlanta, where I stopped for a few days for a meeting, and thinking, “Well, I hope she fits!”
  • Being on the part of Highway 65 that is elevated above the swamp approaching Mobile, AL, just as the sun was setting, and seeing a huge mostly white owl, soaring through the tree tops.
  • Taking a dip in the gulf, worrying about the after effects of the BP spill, and coming out of the water to find my copper bracelets oxidized to almost black.
  • Realizing the only way I was going to survive the heat would be to stop regularly for ice and drinks. Then realizing half the heat was coming through the floor boards.
  • Hurrying to TX, knowing that I would only be able to move so quickly, and I had a deadline.
  • Stopping for the night in Houston. The drivers on the highway there were more often than not, big bullies in big trucks, or so it seemed at the end of a long day. Melting in the humidity as I tried to pull some things out of the back, so I could check into a hotel for the night. Being so very thankful for the A/C in my room.
  • Locking my keys in Chinchin at a gas station. Thankfully I had one of the back windows partly open to increase the breeze inside. I borrowed a little ladder from the gas station, pretended to be an expert level contortionist, and was back in business in a matter of minutes.
  • Delighting in the hill country south of Austin, stopping at Hruska’s for kolaches, seeing the aftermath of a fatal car accident, sinking into the loving arms of my friends in Austin, and buying myself the BEST knife at Metier.
  • Being ever so thankful that the brakes told me with a few loud screeches that they needed to be replaced, right as I pulled into Sweetwater, TX, where there was a cheap hotel room, a Napa auto parts, and a very nice mechanic. Being punched in the gut with the sense of how much rural America is truly dying on the vine.
  • Gleefully pulling over to take pictures of the wind turbines that are beginning to dominate the oil fields and cattle ranches. Smiling from ear to ear every time a semi-truck drove by with a new turbine blade on the back.
  • Watching a small tornado trying to twist itself into formation in the copper colored landscape between north Texas and New Mexico. Being terrified and thrilled at the same time.
  • Inhaling the deep, sagey, green coolness of northern New Mexico. Giggling at the “No smoking marijuana in smoking rooms.” signs in hotels in Colorado.
  • The heart warming hospitality of my friends in Colorado.
  • The strange, earth shaking, rooting nostalgia that rose up in me while visiting the campus of the first college I attended for only one semester, when I was 17, and all the associated “what ifs?”.
  • Driving over the Rockies, giggling at the concept of ski resorts, wishing there was time to stop and ramble over the woods and rocks.
  • Coming through a pass out of Colorado into Utah, as a rainstorm was ending, and there was a bright golden glow looking to the west, framing swooping wind turbines. Once through the pass I noticed an intense rainbow in the rearview mirror. I pulled over, shaking with joy that we might actually find a way to stop being dependent on fossil fuels.
  • Trying to absorb all the awe I was feeling rushing by all the layers of strata, ancient salt lakes, and spectrum of colors as I went from Provo, UT to Kirkwood, CA in one day.
  • Being so excited to see my friends and family in Kirkwood that I reversed into a stone wall and broke the back-up camera.
  • Being EXTREMELY self-conscious of how squeaky the new brakes were in the hilly streets of San Francisco.
  • Running out of gas 12 miles from home, because I was so excited I forgot to stop.

There is so much more. It was a great, though hurried trip. I thought by now, I’d have her all fixed up and ready for more adventures, but life has been very busy, and will continue to be so for a few more months. I may just need to throw some cash at a few of the things. We’ll see. In the meantime, I’m making friends with lots of other Chinook owners online, and letting them provide lots of inspiration.

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