Earlier this month I did something that, three years ago, I vowed never to do again. I got in a vehicle to drive 1,000 miles, give or take, by myself. Durham, NC to Brimley, MI. Any farther and I would have been in Canada.
This drive was a little different than the last. Three years ago I was picking up and moving to the east side of the country. I just wanted to get there. This trip, on the other hand, was about the drive itself. The destination would welcome me when I got there, regardless of when that would be. Don’t get me wrong. I was very much looking forward to getting there. I simply had no set time to arrive. And more importantly, it had no scheduled return date.
ETA? TBD. Return date? Meh.
So, I took off in the car one day before Liz caught her plane to the same destination. I would arrive in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula before her. In the car were two suitcases, and one backpack. One suitcase, and the backpack was mine. The other suitcase was Liz’s. I could just imagine her walking through airport security saying, “Yes, I am only carrying a purse.” Except she wouldn’t call it a purse. A bag maybe? A tote? A satchel? Let’s stick with a bag. “Yes, I am only carrying a bag.” And knowing Liz, that bag only had an ID, money, reading material, and a bottle of water. I am sure the TSA was wondering what this confident redhead was up to. Nonetheless...
In Charleston, WV I stopped for lunch at a hole in the wall taco joint. Think if a beach shack was dropped half a mile from the state capitol building. It was golden. As I crossed into Ohio I had an impromptu phone interview, before seeing farm, after farm, after beautiful farm. At the 10-hour mark I reached out to click “like” on the dash of the car. You know, similar to Pandora or Facebook. That was the moment that I knew I was in an I’ve-been-driving-for-quite-a-while place. Both the music and my right foot got heavy after that. The road straightened, and the land leveled. It was energizing to give it gas and just go.
“Welcome To Michigan” the sign said. “Exit 1 Starbucks”. The clouds opened, and the chorus sang. All was right with the world. That is until I found the Starbucks… in a grocery store… and closed. So, I picked up an energy drink and a coffee drink, and pounded both as I sped north through the middle-mitt of Michigan — fireworks bursting all around the highway.
The day had taken me from the mountains, through plains, to the Great Lakes. I wasn’t tethered to my phone. Often times I didn’t have reception. Maybe I was in a tunnel, in a river valley, or simply out in the middle of nowhere. I enjoyed the view of the road coming to a point on the horizon (except maybe for a little while in Ohio), all through the lens of a bug-splattered windshield. It was nice. There is a lot to be seen between point A and point B.
After I crossed the Mackinac Bridge, and entered into the Upper Peninsula, I rolled the window down to take in the clean, fresh air of the Upper Peninsula —a new-to-me tradition recommended by my father-in-law. The white bark of the Birch trees shone through the dark evergreen needles. The wildflowers were in bloom, and fragrant. This, I thought, is what I drove 1,000 miles for.