And Now For Something Completely Different

And Now For Something Completely Different

View from our Manhattan apartment looking north on Second Avenue.

Between the two of us, and together, we’ve lived in many different places and in a wide variety of types of homes. We both grew up in relatively small towns, in single family homes situated on 1-acre lots. (So we know a lot about mowing large lawns.)

We’ve also lived in a golfing getaway designed for snowbirds, in a tiny historic home, and in brand new construction built to our specifications. We’ve had several runs of urban dwelling, including stints living in downtown Atlanta, midtown Manhattan and downtown Miami. Our views have included a nature preserve, a golf course, Queens, and Biscayne Bay.

Our backyard at a previous home integrated seamlessly with the adjoining preserve area.

Of course, all of these places have been on the East Coast — I am counting Atlanta as coastal here, perhaps incorrectly — and in relatively urbanized areas. We’ve never lived in rural areas, nor have we lived in places with any significant mountains or rugged terrain. All that is about to change.

We are officially going mobile by moving full time into our Airstream travel trailer, and hitting the road for a journey through North America. We think it will be an expedition of at least three years, but could be longer — or shorter — depending on how much we love the traveling lifestyle and what areas we find interesting to visit. We have mapped out a rough plan for the first calendar year of travel which brings us out of Florida, across the country and down to Southern California at year end. Our planned 2018 itinerary, with general dates:

Yes sirree, that is an epic cross-country road trip. And while our route does not hit many “highlights” it is not accidental. In the past we have visited select regions in the west by flying in, seeing a small area, and flying home. We have never had the time to see the gradual transition in landscapes or appreciate the vast distances across the U.S. and Canada. Most of the Midwest, Great Plains and Pacific Northwest is totally new to us, and we are hoping to approach this journey with an open-minded spirit of exploration and discovery.

Nighttime view from our Manhattan apartment. The streak is a plane taking off from La Guardia airport.

We are therefore taking our cues from one of the first epic American journeys, which was undertaken by the Corps of Discovery and is popularly known as the Lewis & Clark Expedition. While the goal to find an all-water route across the U.S. to the Pacific Ocean was not achieved, the scientific and surveying accomplishments of the expedition were critical in opening the lands acquired in the Louisiana Purchase to settlement by Americans. We are generally following the L&C route from Louisville, KY down the Ohio River, then up the Missouri to its headwaters, across the Rockies and down the Columbia River gorge to the Pacific. We are planning to visit many of the sites along the Lewis & Clark Historic Trail, as shown on the L&C Trail Map provided by the U.S. National Park Service.

L&C Trail Map

Because we are nerds, we have both prepared for the trip by reading the Stephen Ambrose biography of Meriwether Lewis, Undaunted Courage. Because I am extra-nerdy, I have also been reading the original journals of the L&C expedition kept by Lewis, his co-captain William Clark, and others. We know much has changed in the 200+ years that have passed since the original expedition, but we are excited to compare our own experiences as first-time visitors to the experiences of these pioneers.

We may be slightly crazy for giving up this view.

Part of that new experience will be visiting rural areas of the country about which we know very little. With our country so politically and culturally polarized, we are hoping to learn more about our fellow Americans whose experiences and viewpoints are so different from our own. We also want to confront and engage with some of the difficult issues of our nation’s past, including treatment of racial minorities and Native Americans. While we are discovering America, we are also hoping to be on a journey of self-discovery and reflection.

I’m planning to blog regularly as we tackle these ambitious plans, so I invite you to follow along (and comment) as we explore America and, we hope, enjoy even more incredible views from our new home.

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