Just a day ago we lost my father after a long bout with Parkinson's. It is a devastating loss for the family, particularly after losing my mother just less than a year ago. Such losses are part of life, but they hurt nonetheless.
|The Last Salute, courtesy Sgt Brian Alvarado, USMC|
Dad was an impressive person. Thirty years in the Navy, followed by fifteen more as the CEO and Publisher at the United States Naval Institute. And even a third career as an instructor at the US Naval Academy. Four degrees from USC, Vanderbilt and Stanford.
And yet through it all he was "Dad" to the family. Exacting at times, but we never lost sight of the fact he loved and protected us from the world, and continued to do so until, well, 24 hours ago as I write this. And if you believe in such things, he's watching us even now, reunited with the love of his life for 60+ years, my mother.
As part of the service planned, my wife and I are destined to travel to Annapolis, Maryland, a wonderful city which my parents called home for more than 30 years. Annapolis is deeply embedded in our family's psyche, and for my wife and I - Southern Californians - consider it to be our East Coast home.
Caring for my father has been a full time job, plus, in these last ten months. After losing my mother he moved out to live with my wife and I so we could care for him. I have two sisters in the DC area, however for a variety of reasons it just made a lot more sense for him - and originally my mother - to move in with us. And so we have devoted nearly a year to his care, including middle-of-the-night calls for assistance and frequents runs to the various "Medicos" as my father called doctors.
As noted, he passed away yesterday. In his sleep, fortunately. At home, where he wanted to be.
Services are planned in Annapolis for a week from this Sunday.
So, why am I writing about this here in the "Travel and Lifestyle Blog"?
For one thing my parents were traveling inspirations. We were raised by people who truly valued the exploration of the world and they instilled that in us, their kids. We love to travel.
And so, given that there is a week before the service and we have no other pressing business, my wife and I have decided we are going to take off on a grand tour of the lower half of the United States. A six thousand mile voyage by car, driving through this magnificent land of ours, seeing all those things which we, as a nation, hold so proudly. Particularly in this day and age of lowered American ambitions and smaller American dreams, we want to go out and rediscover ourselves by rediscovering this great land.
America is a great nation, it's the dreams and people which have become small.
So. This Saturday we're brushing off the AAA Triptik driving app, gassing up the Hyundai Tucson (sorry, not Little Red. It's much too uncomfortable a car for multiple-day journeys), and heading out for three weeks to see what we can see.
This will be, for me, the seventh and eight times I have driven/been driven across the country coast to coast. For my wife it will be the second and third. I will be adding two new states, Kentucky and South Carolina, to my state count bringing me to 48 of the states. Still missing Nebraska and Iowa. My wife will be up ten new states to 38.
To be sure, this adventure is about my father. Both of my parents, really. But it's also a chance for us to decompress and spend time together just wandering around and seeing things both new and familiar. Checking in on friends we haven't seen for a while if we can manage.
We're not booking hotels until the night before. A truly unknown schedule, other than being in Annapolis in a week, and Asheville for a couple of days immediately after.
Current intentions have us crossing the center of the country through Utah, Colorado, Kansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky and Maryland, then crossing back and swinging south to cover the Carolinas, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico and Arizona.
Originating and ending here in Long Beach.
Deserts, mountains, grassland. Forests and plains. Diners, drive-ins and dives, and more than a few martinis along the way.
Cities will include Las Vegas, Denver, St Louis, Louisville, Asheville, Atlanta, New Orleans, San Antonio, Santa Fe and Flagstaff. We're hoping to see the Grand Canyon and Carlsbad Caverns along the way, among other parks.
I'll be documenting the entire trip both here (in more detail) and on Instagram and Twitter (immediate updates).
Please follow along, and please help us promote this to other fellow travelers.
Off on a grand tour, trying to make a little lemonade out of the events of the last two years. Hope you come with us.
|See you in St Louie! And New Orleans...and San Antone...and...|