Eleven years ago next week

I set out to fulfill a lifelong dream. 

I’ve always been a fan of road trip books.  Two of my favorites are Travels with Charley in Search of America, by John Steinbeck, and Blue Highways, by William Least Heat Moon (at the time I had not yet discovered Bill Bryson, who has since become another favorite road trip author of mine). 

I grew up in the back seat of a car myself, figuratively, if not literally.  My father’s favorite way to spend his vacation time, as my mother puts it, was to “get into the car and drive as far as he possibly could before he had to turn around and come back again in time to return to work.”  We ventured from our home near Los Angeles as far afield as the Canadian Rockies, the Pacific Northwest, and, one memorable year, all the way to Alaska and back in the days when the Alaska Highway was still mostly gravel.  I come by my itchy feet quite honestly.

So.  Eleven years ago, on August 31, 1999, four months and twenty-three days after my fortieth birthday (this jaunt has been referred to as my midlife crisis, but not by me) I put my furniture into storage, gave up my apartment and my job, lent my cats to a very kind friend for the duration, stored my computer and a few other things with another kind friend, packed my car, and set out on what turned out to be a two-and-a-half-month cross-country car trip. Alone. I had no plans, other than to spend a little time with a few friends and relatives along the way, and to visit (or revisit, in some cases) a few places that I love or had always wanted to see. I knew I would get as far as the East Coast (I live near Seattle), and I knew I would visit my birthplace, New Orleans, for the first time since I was three years old. Other than that, all I really had was a firm intention to avoid the Interstate freeway system whenever possible.

Over the next two and a half months, starting next Tuesday, August 31st, I am going to dip into the seventeen rolls of film I shot and the journal I kept, and make a sort of tale of it all, day by day.  I hope you’ll enjoy coming along.

So.  Have you ever fulfilled a lifelong dream?  What was it?  And did it live up to your expectations?