At first, I was going to call this year’s travels “The New Ultimate Road Trip.” Then I realized that (a) there really can be only one “ultimate” road trip, and I took that one in 2012, in memory and honor of Tom Hunt; and (b) the initials would spell “NURT” and that acronym really does not have a ring to it. So this morning, it came to me that it should simply be called “Journey 14.” Today is Day 0, because it is dedicated to packing and preparation.
I started the day out with unexpected blessings. I have volunteered to serve as a lector for Masses at my parish, Holy Family in East Tawas. Today was my first turn at reading, and despite my years of public speaking and teaching, I was nervous. Our sacristan reminded me that the Holy Spirit would guide me, and that was a reminder I needed. And He did. And the added blessing was that Mass was being said this morning by a guest, Bishop Oliver from Maiduguri Diocese in Nigeria. Did you know that people are shot and killed weekly in Nigeria simply for the fact that they are Christians or Muslims; that the Boko Haram insurgents kill the men of these faiths with the intent of marrying (thus controlling) their widows and thereby stamping out these faiths? And yet Bishop Oliver’s message was that these trials and troubles will not last forever, that God will protect His people and faith will prevail. I spoke with Bishop Oliver briefly before and after Mass, and came away from those moments and from his homily with a sense that I had been in the presence of a holy man and one of strong unshakable faith.
Then I was on to more mundane matters: A final trip to the laundromat before hitting the road tomorrow. While I was there, a trio of women came in — obviously wrapping up a vacation and having the time of their lives. As I listened, I realized there were three generations, and I was reminded of the time (some 55 years ago) that my mother, her sisters, my grandmother, and I took a trip along the shore of Lake Superior. We camped in a tent, and all rode in a single car. We had some wonderful times, and some arguments; and we created some wonderful memories. The women in the laundromat turned out to be a grandmother who lives here, and her daughter and granddaughter from New York, who had been similarly traveling about Michigan together for a couple of weeks. I shared with them what a pleasant memory their banter had brought to me, and we had a nice chat.
And so tomorrow I start out on Journey 14. This trip is similar to the trips of the past two years in many ways, and profoundly different in others. That first trip in 2012 was undertaken in the throes of grief just a few weeks after Tom had died. I went because it was a trip we had planned to take and then, because of his worsening condition, were unable to complete. My travels took me from Michigan to Wyoming with a brief foray into Montana; through Denver to Kansas City, then south to Arkansas and New Orleans before heading home by way of Georgia and Ohio; the trip took me into the homes of siblings I had not seen in years, as well as into the homes of siblings I had met only briefly on one or two prior occasions; I saw sights I had never seen before, and I had many wonderful conversations with family who universally welcomed me with open arms. I healed as I drove and experienced the open road.
In 2013, my brother Paul joined me on the trip, and we varied the route a bit — traveling north and west from Atlanta to Kansas City and on to Wyoming, then back to Georgia for a bit and then home. We had some wonderful adventures and saw some new things, and thoroughly enjoyed spending the time with each other.
This year, for Journey 14, I travel alone again. The route is a new one for me — north through Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, then west across the UP, Minnesota, and North Dakota into Montana and then south into Wyoming. I have intentions, if not definite plans, for things to see and do; and I am not yet sure what direction my travels will take me when I leave Wyoming. I am keeping my options open and will do some planning as I go; the possibilities are endless and limited only by my imagination and daring! My first stop, tomorrow night, will be Grand Marais, Michigan, where I will stay at the same lodge my mother used to love, and where I will walk the agate beaches and visit Whitefish Point and sit and look out over Lake Superior and let her spirit settle on me. Mom always loved a good road trip, even if she was the “mother” of all backseat drivers! ❤ 😉
JD, the little brown spotted puppy dog, will be with me — and I dare say that Tom will once again ride shotgun, for although he is physically absent these past 25 months, I feel his spirit nearby so very often. And I will probably take pictures out the car window and eat too much fast food, but I will keep safe and try to be reasonably healthy in my habits.
So here’s to Journey 14 and all the adventures it is sure to bring!
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