“It is a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door.” I was always a bit disappointed in the character portrayals of the Hobbits in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. I became addicted to Tolkien as a teenager, when I discovered the three books, plus “The Hobbit” while assisting my uncle in remodeling a house. The books were rather strategically hidden, but nothing really escapes the relentless gaze of a teenager in their never ending quest for knowledge. Around age fourteen, my own quest for anything new quickly morphed into a frenzy of planning on how to get out of there. Preferably as far away as I could go, where no one knew me and I could start over, somehow rising above the ashes of a broken heart and contaminated soul…it was at this point that I usually broke down into tears, wallowing in my undeserved self-pity as only a teenager can.
Despite my broken heart and despondent soul (from which I always recovered, especially with the advent of another blonde, wannabe model with “Baby” tattooed on her shoulder blade into my life. I never did lose the desire to travel and see new places, even though it seemed more impossible as years went by. Then I discovered something! Something huge! Magical! Terrific! If you packed a small bag with a few clothes, not many, a little money, not much and a little food you were ready to go! The world was at your fingertips!
I’ve lost count on the number of times I’ve just simply wandered away, telling know one for certain of my plan, as I usually didn’t know myself. That didn’t stop me from being vague and mysterious up to when I left, as though I were indeed an angel whose wings had been ripped away in some epic recapitulation of events as only I, the purveyor of legend, the immortal Highlander (remember that shit?) could somehow recall, if only I could stay sane in the telling.
Welcome to my childhood.
This roadtrip had all the drama of the others, only this time it was real life drama. My wife and I had bought a new home in Easton, MD near St. Michaels. We have a son, not quite two. We have a feral cat, age unknown. We have not yet sold our previous home, where we had lived for eight years, despite all our improvements. My wife is crazy busy with photography, and I am still suffering physically from HE, the side effects and symptoms of acute liver cirrhosis. Traveling, extended trips in the car, physical exertion or just simply standing too long sends my system into toxic shock. All of that notwithstanding, I chose to babysit our movers and drive up separately, over what I planned to be a few days of time, easy drives, and visiting with friends and new restaurants along the way.
That’s not what happened.
On Monday morning, I did manage to talk our cat, Stubbs, who is large and in charge and almost completely feral, into a small cat carrier that I bought for him. Astonishingly, he went willingly. He became my companion through the whole trip, until I lost him. More on that later.
I said goodbye to Nolan, without crying (I saved that for later, I was only going to be one day, right?). He grinned his normal devil may care grin and he and his Mom piled into her Cadillac and off they went, headed for our new home in Easton, Maryland.
I finished loading my Ford, met with the movers, who just so happened to be a great bunch of girls and guys, in spite of some gross misunderstandings throughout the day. The problem was, I was getting sicker by the minute on Monday, how sick, I didn’t really know at the time. That didn’t stop me from having a great day, nonetheless. The homemade wooden rack worked like a charm, thanks to my Dad and Brother James, who took their time on the rack-to-truck attachment to ensure it was as strong as possible, held everything I could possibly want, and kept all the bed features available. Thanks, James and Dad!!
While the movers were doing their thing, I tried to mostly stay out of the way, although it nearly killed my pride to do so. By mid-morning I was beaten down pretty badly, but still on my feet and moving. I did a lot of sightseeing, visited Palisades, Eggleston, Pembroke, picked up a new canoe for calm water use, visited Moonsown Farm for some happily raised pork and boar, ate a hot dog, grabbed some sandwiches from Tangent Outfitters and in general had a pretty good day.
I tried to help pull a guy out of a ditch, to no avail:
Wrapped most everything up at the house, then cruised on over to the Inn on Main Street and visited my favorite dive, Underground Pub. They gave me my old coffee mug for luck, without anything but tea in it this time, my bourbon years are long gone:
The next day found me in the hospital, where my plans for traveling north through WV, stopping to see my mentor Chef and documenting food all the way were changed. Instead, I started a bleary three day journey to our new home, which held it’s own set of adventures that I never planned for.
I was given an autographed copy of a book, met some seriously cool people, learned yet again that every single day is a blessing and realized that I hate Doritos. I still haven’t found Stubbs, but I will. He has a way of showing up. Nolan was happy to see me and I celebrated by sleeping for about two days.
More on all the rest of this later. In the meantime, watch that front door!