Dear Friends and Family,

Thank you for returning to my blog! The adventure of my lifetime is over, but its story will continue ๐Ÿ™‚

When my road trip was concluding at the beginning of September, I began to think about how I wanted to conclude the blog as well. I have regaled basically everyone I know with tales from my trip several dozen times (your patience is appreciated) by now, but I’ve never been able to get into the specifics of how I did this trip: its planning, its execution, its mundanities and days-to-days. As I have said many times before, these five months were the best of my life, and I encourage all the people I care about to take some similar trip if you likewise seek to live so free and unencumbered, live as a maple seed spinning in the wind.

To that end, I’m going to continue the blog with a series of posts about how I planned the trip, how I found the things I wanted to see and places to stay, what gear I used, how to estimate the cost of such a trip, how to do a trip like this yourself, and other topics. I hope you all find this to be a helpful resource in planning your own cross-country road trip some day ๐Ÿ™‚

But before we get to that, I thought it would be fun to revisit some of the experiences I had immediately after returning to Virginia. So, without further adieu:

On returning to Virginia, the second thing I felt (after the raw, unbridled elation of it all) was awe. I felt awed and overwhelmed for many weeks, that I had been able to see and do so much for so long. Perhaps it was the sudden lack of driving in my life, or the enormous change in daily scheduling, or just the ease with which I could find a real bed again (that being my own), but now matter how you examine it: I was really shocked at how different my life at home was compared to being on the road!

There is a certain rhythm to being on the road that you get used to, and the loss of which is quite disorienting. On the road, every morning starts with having to pee. Now yes, I know this doesn’t seem any different to life at home! But I promise it is. When you’re living in a tent, getting up to pee is a far bigger operation in the morning than it is at home. You’re not going to be able to roll out of bed and shamble, half-naked (or fully naked, I don’t judge) to your bathroom, and plop down on the pot with the door wide open (sorry couples, being single does have some advantages ยฏ\_ (ใƒ„)_/ยฏ ). You have to really get up, get dressed (to what degree depends on the temperature and time of year), grab your dop kit, unzip the tent, get your shoes on, and then walk however far it is to the bathrooms in the cool morning dawn. It’s a considerable wake-up call, and by the time you return to your tent, other folks in the campsite are probably already stirring and working to make breakfast, make up their packs for the day, or take down their tents for their next destination, all of which you need to get to doing pretty quickly if you want to enjoy your actual events for the day!

All of this means you are up, active, and alert a lot earlier and a lot quicker in the morning than you are on any given weekday at home! I will go more into the day-to-day chores of road tripping later, but I hope this anecdote illustrates why I found myself getting up at 7:00 AM every day, and well before any of my alarms were intended to go off.

Here’s another adjustment:

Having your favorite grocery store back again!

I think I ate very well on the road trip, and a future installment of this blog will go into why that mattered and how I was able to honestly eat healthier than I do at home. But there’s certain ingredients, and tools, and techniques that you just don’t have access to on the road, and so reintroducing yourself to all those flavors is a sea change!

The very first meal I had when I got back home: well, that wasn’t what’s in the photo, that was some eggplant parmesan I had made and frozen way back in April for the express purpose of having something to eat at my expected 9:00 PM arrival time to a house with an empty pantry and fridge. But! The next day, after I had gone to Wegmans for the first time in 5 months, I made ground tomato-basil-bread-pecorino soup, and it was soooooo good. While simple, this dish (from Cook’s Illustrated) requires the use of both a cheese grater and a food processor, as well as refrigerated or quickly-spoiling ingredients like pecorino cheese and fresh basil, none of which I had frequent access to on the road. It was a nice change, but still a jarring one.

Thankfully, as throughout the trip, I had dear friends to reel me back into a normal life ๐Ÿ’™. I think the first big social thing I did when I got back was attend a contra dancing session with my dear friends Liz, Maria, and Elli, seen from left-to-right in the above photo. Actually, I think Liz is the very first friend I met up with when I returned to Virginia! And I am very grateful for getting to hang out and catch up the work she did resocializing me and adding enrichment to my enclosure, like a wandering racoon that was picked up by animal control for digging through people’s garbage, and brought to the local zoo rather than being dispatched at a local state park.

Evan, literally what the FUCK are you talking about???

I jest, but we really did have a grand old time schmoozing through an artist’s showcase at glen echo before the dance and nabbing free snacks and booze. Thanks for being there for me Lis ๐Ÿ’™.

Better still was finally catching back up with my hiking group, Late Morning Hikers of DC. I missed and was missed by them sorely, and I got right back to work carpooling these guys out to Shenandoah and back, erstwhile holding my tongue about how it compared to parks like Zion and Glacier and Teton ๐Ÿ˜‰

One of the things I missed the most from LMH while on the road was our poetry hikes, where we go hiking into the woods and read poetry aloud during the lunch break. As on the shores of Lake Solitude, it is one of those rare and perfect times at which you can bare your soul to one another and feel home in the world. “And that my soul embraces you this hour, is equally wonderful” said Whitman on the subject. Thank you, LMHers, for bringing joy to my gay little heart ๐Ÿ’™.

Sunset at Glen Echo.

And in the day-to-day, I prepared myself to return to the real world, even if I had already stepped into it with both feet. I packed up my camping gear and pulled down sheets and linens for my bed. I just about melted into it every night, so much more comfortable was it than that cot I had spent 142 days on, more or less (it was great for the first 100 or so but wore out eventually). I cleaned house, cleaned my car, put the AC unit in for the tail end of summer. I finally got to wear new outfits for the first time in months, and I got to replacing several items that I could never find the time for while on the road.

Here is probably the best example of that:

Same brand, model, and size of shoe, just 25,000 miles apart.

Most things on the road change incrementally. Your odometer goes up, your funds go down, your gas gauge bobs between. Your cot sinks a little more every night, but the sun rises every day. A pair of shoes wears out step by step by step. But when you take those shoes off for the last time, you really see how much living you’ve done in them.

That’s all for now,

Stay well everyone,

Evan ๐Ÿ’™

P.S. Alright that was way too schmaltzy, here is a picture of a sunset I took in a Home Depot parking lot, because I put the hopeless in hopeless romantic: