It is is spring. It is late coming to us this year, no doubt the price we pay for having the mildest February anyone can remember in a long time. It is time to load the essentials and be off again.
This year is different. As it was the year I went up the Mississippi River, there are no family stops planned on this trip, so the itinerary does not include a reprise of last year’s dash across the continent in the rain. Those of you who read faithfully will recall that I spent a mere week driving to the Right Coast last year and then spent most of the spring and early summer trying to find warmth and a dry place to be with only some success. I am hoping for better weather.
Most of my trips have a theme, although I confess this one has several. There are two Presidential Museums on my list, Gerald Ford and Herbert Hoover. The former has a museum in his old congressional district since he is remembered by the people of Michigan more as their congressman of many years than the three or so he spent at the White House. His official papers are housed at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. The Museum is in Grand Rapids. The Hoover home near Davenport Iowa is said to be quite lovely. I am hoping by the time I get there summer will have come to the mid-West this year.
To begin, La Coachasita and I will need to march across the desert as always, but if the weather isn’t too hot, we will linger a while in the “other Carlsbad” where the caverns are in New Mexico. To avoid whatever it is they are trying to do with all the soldiers and guns in Juarez/ El Paso, we will head north and travel a good U.S. route through Clovis and Tucumcari on up into southern Kansas and then go east as far as Vicksburg. The last time I was at the Civil War battlefield there it was pouring rain, and I accompanied three Brits who had a vague notion of what this “colonial war they had” was about. I hope for more pleasant weather and a little less tour guide duty this time. After that, the plan says we will cross Tennessee making use of their excellent state parks along the way and end up at the Great Smoky Mountain National Park just east of Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg, and Dollywood, the later named for Dolly Parton a native of those parts and a founder of this historical theme and recreation area. It is “Quite Something” I am told by those who have visited. I took a miss last time and will likely this time, preferring to head into the park to the Dome and Cadys Cove and other places remembered for their serene and bucolic beauty. I have not been there for about eight years and I have always wanted to go back. If we get that far we will drop into Georgia after stopping at the Biltmore Mansion and make an about face well north of Atlanta and go north. It will be May buy then and we will find the big River and follow it up as far as Illinois. A side trip to Michigan will get us to the Ford Museum and then rejoin the River near Galena, go on to Davenport and then up to the land of thousands of small towns which, as you know, continue to fascinate me. Lake Bemidji or Itasca, the headwaters of the Mississippi would be the apex if I get that far north. It will be a weather driven decision. Then we will turn west in a descending route through South Dakota, Colorado, Utah and home by the fourth of July.
The trip is much anticipated this year. Its lack of structure is appealing. The book is finished and getting what publicity it can. I feel the need to unplug from the world of zaniness that has overtaken us all. To add to my enjoyment, I have finally entered the digital age of photography sufficiently I hope to share on these pages what we see along the way.
There are still endless possibilities out there, still so many small towns to savor and so little time. I hope I will find some that are as charming, amusing, and pleasant the many that have gone before. At ten years of age now, my faithful road warrior seems as anxious as I am to be off. I am watching her oil and other dietary intake more closely now as the odometer spins past 110,000 miles. Jack, the RV Genius, has pronounced her fit for duty, probably more so than I, so we will once more drive into the sunrise on a Sunday morning in search of the never seen and the things we need to see again.
I'd be pleased if you come along.