Category Archives: Road Trip 2012

Road Trip: Beyond the sight of man

Rocky Mountains
Golden, Co
Photography by Gabriel

When I wake up in the early morning hours I find myself lost between different lands. Upon opening your eyes, the first thing to hit the center of your pupils are the Rocky Mountains. All you see is darkness at its base, but when you gaze at the multicolored sunrise above the hilly terrain you are hit with a sense of shock at the contrast between earth and sky.

It reminds me of the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Long Island. If you get to the beach at sunrise, you will see pitch black waves rocking back and forth with no sense of direction. If you look deep into the horizon and past the breaking point of the waves, reds and oranges welcome another day into existence. The dark water is alive with life and as the sun rises, it makes the liquid seem less ominous. Sometimes you forget the world is circular because at that moment, you are certain the earth stretches east to west for billions of miles, as if running alongside the heavens. A cosmic battle of the ages with no winners, their job is to keep us filled with questions and wonder and mesmerize us by creating natural phenomenons.

Then I moved to the middle of American, where flat land stops abruptly and bows down to majestic mountains. In the morning, dark, rolling hills cut the purple sky in half in these strange, zigzag, up and down patterns which seem to go on forever. Stars still shine and the moon hangs high above the earth in victory and awash in the suns reflection. Every color of the rainbow mixes in with white clouds and all is quiet underneath its banner.

Once I am fully awake I remember where I am and what I’m doing here. Although I don’t understand the why and the when, I feel all these questions will be fulfilled in due time. The place I came from seems to fade away with every sunset, the future, like every sunrise, remains a mystery to my mind and my soul and yet I wait in expectation, hopeful and captivated by the strangeness of it all.

Speaking of strange, two nights ago I checked into a local motel out here in Colorado and found myself caught in a creepy, personal version of Ghost Hunters. Unbeknownst to me, the place had a reputation for being shady and a hangout for various sorts of arch criminals and vagabonds. Not that I have a problem with consorting with different people, I’d rather not stay in a building where shootouts occurred and people died.

Anyway, I rented a room and made my way down the dark corridor with an uneasy feeling in my stomach, this was strike one. Upon entering the pad, I put my stuff down and prepared myself for a shower in a bathroom with a puddle of water sitting in the middle of the floor. Strike two. I spoke comforting words into the mirror, you know, kind of like a pep talk to keep me going. As I stood in the middle of the lavatory in my birthday suit the madness began.

Oh Shit!

An unearthly whisper shot past my ears and the hairs on my neck stood up sending my nerves into a panic overload. At this point I am extremely vulnerable because I had to put on my clothes before running through the walls like some cartoon on steroids. As this was all transpiring, my heart beat a hundred miles an hour and my mind was screaming for me to leave this place of the damned. The evil twin girls from The Shinning flashed in my mind and all I wanted to do was scream. After I managed to throw on my clothes and pick up whatever crap was lying around I made it into the hallway safely without anyone or anything grabbing my shoulder. I would have screamed, my lord I would have screamed!

Point of the story is I managed to get out of there alive and in one piece with a full refund. There is another world beyond the sight of man. Whether you choose to believe is your prerogative, but at that point, in that room, I was not alone. My skin crawled, my lungs filled with fear and my mind played tricks on me. I’ve never had a problem staying in motels before and I have stayed in plenty. I knew I wasn’t losing my mind, when I checked into my beloved Motel 6 an hour later I spoke with the cute lady behind the counter about the haunted motel. My story was confirmed when she explained to me how many people have left that motel in fear.

I’m usually one for exploring the unknown and the eerie, but not then. I want to know what I’m walking into first before signing up to be a Ghostbuster. I think it’s only fair to warn your patrons there are spirits roaming about the halls. If the creepy lady at the front desk would have explainedthis to me I would have been in the mood to deal with the unseen. But, like many of the adventures I’ve had on this trip so far, it makes for good conversation.

Get em’ Ray.

Today is opening day for the NFL and I am sitting here in Starbucks drinking the cheapest coffee a guy can find in this particular establishment. This will be the first time in many, many years I will miss my beloved Jets open up the season and it’s amazing how little I actually care. Priorities can change when you are broke and homeless and on the verge of mental collapse. You see the world differently, you grow up faster, you pray for help and you try to remain strong while you rebuild and regroup and start from absolutely nothing. Like the ghost which haunted me a few nights ago, the unknown is a scary, otherworldly existence I have come to despise.

I don’t have anything else to add except this: Don’t be afraid, the morning light will shine eventually and the darkness cannot stand it. Take it easy.


Road Trip: Jimmy Bojangles

Me as Jimmy Bojangles

When darkness creeps in and erases the sun from shining, the coyotes howl and the prairie winds pick up, it leaves me cold and vulnerable to the outside world. Sometimes, when all is quiet and clouds hang gently overhead, I take a moment to wonder how I came to be. How I went from living indoors and working forty hours a week, to sleeping in my Grand Van and camping under the stars in a forgotten part of the world with no money, no home and no employment. The Denver Post is yet to hire me.

I am sitting in a Starbucks in Golden, CO and taking a moment to rest. Over the past forty-eight hours, I have filled out and hand delivered over thirty applications for work. They range from cooking in sushi bars, cleaning toilets, gas station attendant, hotel janitor, barista, pizza maker and even a marijuana “packer” at one of the many Medical Marijuana stores here in Denver. I should join the circus, because most of my time on earth has been spent juggling one thing or the next.

I will pretty much do anything at this point to keep from losing my mind. Being free and unburdened by work is fun for a time, even relaxing. But I’m a man in need of something to fill in the hours between hiking and backpacking and dodging mountain lions and rock slides. Since I enjoy crap like this, I need more money to get to these places and since money doesn’t grow on trees, I need to find work.

Jimmy Bojangles is the wandering man inside of my soul. The guy who lets loose and sticks his thumb in the air when cars come flying down the highway, he smokes Pall Malls and wears funny looking hats. He walks proudly in torn jeans and hiking boots. The walking stick he carries has crossed many lands, has seen many places, and when the end of it juts into the dusty earth, it sends small plumes of visible smoke all around his feet. He’s a good man, a wise man, a sad man, this Jimmy Bo Jangles. Without a destination, he makes his own path for others to follow. Without a home, he lays his weary head on the grass and looks into the heavens for signs of life. He is a solo man, cursed to spend the rest of his days wandering the planet in search of something greater than himself. No one wants to be him. People shake their heads and shield their eyes and tell tales about him. None of it true. He is misunderstood, this nomad, this Jimmy Bo Jangles.

I think we all have a bit of this guy inside of us. Just waiting to be released and given the go ahead to take the controls for a while. Many people wiser than I keep him locked away, only to come out when life gets too burdensome, never to be taken seriously, they keep the adventure hidden inside. They know better because they are sane, or too afraid to step outside the circle of comfort.

I have nothing to lose. When you are trying to find a mate, this can be devastating to your case. Women want homes, and cars, and money and protection. All of which can be purchased from that thing which doesn’t grow on trees. When you spend your life making terrible choices, guess what happens? Bad shit happens.

All of these things can be rectified. Nothing is unfixable as long as you are still breathing and not six feet underground somewhere. I am trying harder than I ever have in my life, to become something worth looking at in the mirror, someone worth being proud of. I spent most of my life living vicariously through Jimmy, taking risk after risk and throwing caution to the wind without worrying about consequences. I am deeply saddened by this. But I’m trying and pressing forward and conquering the fear of failure which has haunted me for so many years.

I am watching a young, mentally challenged employee clean tables and sweep the floors. She has a smile on her face which could light up a dark room. What is my excuse?  What is your excuse? Who am I to whine and moan and cry unfair? Who am I to blame the Dealer for dealing me a crummy hand when some people cannot function normally? It’s all a mess, this world of ours. Where is the justice? Maybe the next life will be kinder, gentler, worth living.

My friends, my readers, I wish you all a great holiday weekend. There is nothing wrong with living adventurous, seeing new places, making new friends, leaving your mark on history. I am trying to accomplish all of these things. But I guess I have to grow up a little, fix a few things, and make smarter decisions. The outdoors are a wonderful place to find yourself and to discover the inner depths of who you can become with a little spirit. But man, I can really use a shower.


Road Trip: Grease Monkeys and hot dog water.

Sometimes people ask me what I think heaven must look like. I would usually say something cliché about fluffy clouds and gold paved streets. Trees line a gurgling, crystal clear river all the way towards the Throne of God. I think there are millions upon millions of angels and departed souls singing and shouting and banging their tambourines all night long. I bet there is a never-ending buffet with all sorts of delicious foods and cocktails being served by smiling angelic beings. I am sure there are pools and flowing waterfalls, pearly gates and everlasting life. Free Starbucks for everyone. No hatred, no sadness, no greed. Eternity in a nutshell.

If you are looking for heaven on earth, I suggest driving through the Rocky Mountains. Start in Grand Junction, Co and drive West on I-70 for two hundred and seventy something miles. I can assure you its rugged cliffs and dragon like scales jutting out from earth will leave you in an ethereal state of mind. Streams of water cascade down from the mountains and flow over rocks and around tree stumps, horny squirrels mate under the shade of small bushes. Blue skies and wild flowers put the whole picture in a frame to hang on your wall. I’m sure I saw the ghost of Bob Ross sitting quietly on a boulder with his easel and paints talking to himself. I could be wrong because I was too busy keeping an eye on the road. My brakes were making funny noises, I was sure the oil was depleted because I couldn’t get the Grand Van to go over fifty.

Before I left New York, I had some “mechanic” at Wal-Mart change the oil on my ride. He told me there could be a minor leak. There was no leak. He didn’t help the situation either. I know nothing about cars except changing a flat or putting in water or Antifreeze. I can turn the key and put the transmission in drive if I have to. I know how to screw on a bolt. He does not. He put the oil pan bolt on crooked or something along those lines.

While chugging up a hill towards Frisco, I was too concerned with conking out and careening down the side of a cliff to really enjoy the scenery around me. I figured this is where the rich and famous hung out yadda, yadda, yadda. All the pretty people gather here and drink champagne and toast their millions, blah.

Anyway, I entered the fairytale town with gusto and a resolve to get my baby fixed. Found a cool little auto shop called the Grease Monkey and was greeted by a friendly chap who was in the process of helping some other wanderer. I always feel a bit foolish when it comes to mechanical stuff, even more so when the person is trying to explain things to me. I just stand there with my hands in my pockets, shaking my head up and down like I have any clue as to what’s being told to me. The nice guy started telling me about bolts and pans and what have you, I smiled and agreed. I think he knew I was clueless.

It was a bit chilly in between the mountains, so I grabbed my Orange County Choppers hoodie and walked a spell while my van was attended to. It’s August, but everyone in town was wearing long-sleeved shirts and some wore winter hats (a little too much in my opinion). Before I walked away, I grabbed a bottle of water from my cooler and took a nice, long chug to quench my parched throat.

Now, two days earlier I had cooked some Franks over an open fire and thought I had secured the rest of the dogs in plastic wrap. I was wrong. The bag of hot dogs mixed and mingled with the melted ice to create a lovely aroma of, I don’t know, crap. Unbeknownst to me, I grabbed an open bottle of H20. The juice invaded my Poland Springs and ruined the whole experience. I spit it out when I realized I had been poisoned by my own ineptitude. Some of the locals watched with fiery indignation and turned their snooty noses in the air. Even pet dogs turned their snouts skywards, dreadful New Yorker how dare he!

I don’t have much to say lately. To tell you the truth, I’ve been on edge the last few days because I’m in a rather interesting quandary. I won’t get into specifics, but I hope everything works out the way it’s supposed to. Let the wind take me where it wants, keep my eyes on the prize and move forward. When you are on the verge of a nervous breakdown, your body kicks into survival mode and everything around you moves outside of time. I think I lost it a bit yesterday, but it’s all part of the adventure. When you leave the comfort of a home for the great outdoors, or a van, you tend to remember how blessed you are.

The past seventy-two hours have tested and tried my mind and soul. I may have snapped, but I believe in that old saying, whatever doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. My apologies to the people who had to listen to me complain, thank you for hearing me out. Thank you for being there.


Road Trip: Chewbacca drinks soy milk in the Land of Enchantment

Tucumcari, N.M
Photography by Gabriel

Authors note: I am on a road trip across America! Please leave a comment and I will respond as soon as possible! Music to read by “Return to Innocence”  by Enigma

The first thing you notice when you enter New Mexico is the sky and how the entrance to heaven must be found somewhere along its horizon. Blues mix and mingle with the greens and browns of the hilly earth. Wooden sticks with sharp barbwire zigzag across the landscape in no specific order. I assumed they marked boundaries, separating one homestead from the next. Black and brown cows litter the red ground beneath their hoofed feet.

Mirages are real. I’ve seen a few while driving down historic Route 66, but mostly in the form of Starbucks coffee. I started to lose it when I crossed over the Texas/ N.M border. When I say lose it, I mean I began to crack. I had just hit the 2,000 mile marker on my journey and the road psychosis kicked in. I started to laugh at nothing, I repeated words over and over, I made sounds like Chewbacca and at one point I pulled over to the side of a lonely road and had a conversation with a cow about the benefits of drinking soy milk. The state trooper who caught the affair was not impressed with my story and kindly asked me to get the hell out of his state and go back to New York. I looked back at the cow and she trotted away. I could have sworn she said something about eating more fiber.

I don’t know what happened to me.  When you’re on the road for long periods of time, things just mesh together. There is no rhyme or reason. When your schedule consists of nothing but survival in the great expanse of America your priorities can change. I poop in rest stops, I eat in gas stations, and I sleep in my Grand Van. I had a wonderful egg and sausage breakfast burrito while traveling through Texas the other day. I had no intention of doing so, but when I went in to pay for my gas, a young lady was in the middle of making some cowboy his breakfast. I had to have one.

It looked sumptuous, so I threw caution to the wind and ordered one. This is in a Sunoco gas station, in the middle of Texas. Before leaving home, I purchased some things from a store called BJ’s…why they decided to use such a suggestive name is beyond me…but they have some really good deals. I stocked up on all sorts of goodies. My most prized is the box full of Welch’s fruit snacks I’ve been munching on for the past nine days. Southwestern cuisine is absolutely worth the drive.

Want a good lunch? Go to any Mexican taco stand or mom and pop diner and you will walk out feeling like a king (or queen) that just had a royal feast. Eggs, tortillas, salsa, cheese, more tortillas and lots of guacamole make me a happy wanderer.

New Mexico
Photography by Gabriel

The roads in New Mexico are endless and the earth is a rainbow of colors. It goes from brown to deep red, to lush flower fields. White rocks jut out from the sacred ground and purple mountains soar above the skyline. If you listen closely you can hear the distant rattle of a snake, if you walk a spell towards open land you can almost hear the ancients sing their sad songs. When you look at the hills, you expect to see an Indian chief standing proudly on his stallion with his tribe behind him. When I walked alongside the Rio Grande River I envisioned the first settlers panning for gold and trying to survive. If you stoop down and put your ear on the red dirt, you can almost hear buffalos stampeding.

Years ago when I was visiting Maine, I purchased some Native American music from local tribes. I still enjoy playing them from time to time. While driving down I-40 at a respectable 60 mph, I put my arm out the window and let the warm breeze rush through me. Soft flutes and melancholy drums played in the background and I imagined what it must have been like to live four or five hundred years ago, hunting for food, forging for edible plants, dodging wild animals, sleeping in tepees.

I think I would have made a good chief, or at the very least some sort of ancient journalist. I’d have my rock slab handy and my paints ready to go. I would sit and listen to young men complain about hunting and how they needed more gear. I would take time to sit with the women and listen to them whine about not having enough water or food stuffs. They would expect me to report it to the higher-ups and I would. I picture riding a horse through deserts and territories to find other tribes, so I can bring them the latest headlines.

I’ve been on the road for almost ten days now. My beard is growing in and my legs are like rubber from driving too much. I started this article two days ago. I’ve driven another seven hundred miles. I feel one with the earth, one with my driver’s seat. I am praying for guidance, wishing for answers, looking to make some sense out of this whole quest of mine. I have miles to go and many nights to sleep under the heavens.  Part of the fun of driving across country is meeting new people and hearing their stories.

I was sitting on a curb in downtown Albuquerque yesterday, listening to a few vagabonds play instruments. The girl was sweet, the guy was definitely stoned and I was sitting there enjoying the whole scene. This is what life is about I think. Sharing a few laughs with strangers over a few beers can teach you a lot about yourself. Tells you what you are made of. Tells you what’s in your heart.

The Land of Enchantment is a beautiful place filled with mysteries and ancient history. The rocks cry out and sing sad songs. The mountains stand guard over people as they sleep. The skies light up and welcome you into its presence as you make your way west.  I could have sworn I saw John Wayne standing in the distance beckoning me to give up my fears, hand over my doubts and just let go. Be blessed everyone and until next time, adios.

New Mexico
Photography by Gabriel


Road Trip: Eating Arby’s in Arkansas

Authors note: I am on a road trip across America! If you comment I will reply as soon as possible! My internet access is limited, also I had a hard time uploading pics to this particular blog so you will have to use your imagination! Enjoy!

I offer my sincerest apologies to the good people of Arkansas. While mapping out my itinerary several weeks ago, I decided to breeze through your state without looking back. Now I’m happy I stayed for a few days or else I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to hike Mt. Nebo, or catch a breathtaking sunset over Little Rock as I crossed the Broadway Bridge.

Overlooking the Arkansas River and surrounding valley, Mt. Nebo rises over one thousand feet in the air. To reach the summit, you have to drive up a dozen grueling switchbacks. I love my Grand Van and I believe she loves me back, but after all the twists and turns and huffing and puffing, she was not happy with me. When we reached the top I gave her some extra coolant and patted her hood lovingly. She seemed to let it go.

When you stand on the ‘Bench Overlook’ gazebo, you notice how the earth and sky come together to form a masterpiece of unspeakable beauty. The deep blue from above collides with green from below and somehow makes everything terrible in this world seem trite and silly. To just sit and stare at creation is probably the most underrated hobby of all time. Looking over America from the top of a mountain can change your life. Or at least calm your soul and make you think about your priorities.

I was just about finished with the curly fries I purchased at Arby’s when I noticed how grand life is. Well for one thing, Arby’s should be on every street corner in this world (who doesn’t love a good roast beef and cheddar sandwich with a side of curly fries?). I’m on the open road with nothing but the wind at my back, the sun setting before me and mountains to climb on each side. I have a few bucks in my pocket and some survival gear. My camera is strapped on my shoulder and my walking stick plunges into mother earth when I swing my arms. What else can a man really ask for?

The Bench Trail is a four mile loop around the mountain which I proudly conquered in just about an hour or so. I brought along my backpack filled with random gear I probably won’t ever have to use but made me feel safe nonetheless. I’m a huge fan of Les Stroud and I watch his show Survivorman every day of my life. I wanted to be sure that if he had come along with me, he would have been proud of my pack. I took my compass, fire starters, emergency poncho, rope, bug spray, whistle, energy bars, three bottles of water and purifying tablets (just in case), some duct tape, pocket knife, extra socks, first aid kit, needle and thread, snakebite kit, maps and my notebook and pencils. Seems like a lot for such a short hike but you never know what you can encounter.

Speaking of wild encounters, the day after hiking Mt. Nebo I drove for several hours and decided to pull over for some shut-eye. I made it to a Wal-Mart parking lot and tried to rest but the heat was unbearable. All of a sudden the wind picked up and World War II broke out in the sky above me. Lightning shattered the heavens and rain pummeled my van. I was awestruck by the performance.

The next day I was speaking to one of the locals and I mentioned the storm, apparently I had caught the tail end of a tornado and never knew about it. Sometimes ignorance really is bliss. Although I felt no fear, I would rather not be stuck in a massive tornado whilst sitting in a van. I laugh because I would have been out there with my camera lickety-split taking world-class photos and sending them to the guys and gals at National Geographic.

Once I was finished playing storm chaser, I continued my drive down I-40 into Oklahoma City where I was greeted with friendly faces and one hour parking limits. What a scam! While I am running around snapping photos and pretending to be a world traveler, I’m worried about getting a ticket. It’s the same in every major city I guess.

I thoroughly enjoyed Oklahoma. Between the friendly people and Native American museums, it was a city worth checking out. Plus I always wanted to visit the OKC Memorial. I am sure most of you remember the terrorist bombing which killed many innocent people, including children. It was a sad experience. I come from New York. I understand their sorrow.

Sometimes we need to drop our guards in order to relate to one another. We put on this macho ‘I’m ok, you’re ok’ façade when most of the time we’re not. Like I’ve said before, we are creatures in need of companionship. I don’t think there is anything wrong with asking for help. There are forces in this world that would have us believe this is a weak character trait. I think we are at our strongest when we come to the realization we need help. When we are down, the only place to look is up.

Walking along the reflecting pool, I took a moment to honor the dead and I promised God to help the living no matter what the cost. Funny isn’t it? How we say things like that. No matter what the cost…I think back on all the times I put my own comfort in front of the needs of others. This is a habit I am trying to break. We are supposed to love people. If you expect to feel love for strangers all the time you will be disappointed. This is the point I would like to make before I wrap this up; you don’t have to feel love, to show love….take it easy guys and until next time, chow.


Road Trip:The King was here.

Elvis in real life. Memphis, TN

Authors note: I am on a long distance road trip across America! If you comment and I don’t respond right away please don’t take offense! I will get back to you when I can! Enjoy!

Nashville is a happening city with BBQ joints and live music on every street corner. Proprietors sell memorabilia to eager tourists, bartenders pour shots of whiskey and Elvis could be heard in the air around me. It’s a beautiful little place with southern charm just bursting from its seams. Waiting to be explored by us New Yorkers looking for some respite from the hostile vultures up north.

I am writing to you from the Grand Van in a parking lot of a Super Wal-Mart in Arkansas.  I tell you this because I feel pity for my people back home. There is a cloud of desperation hanging over New York. I’ve been on the road a whole five days and I can already see the difference. I can feel it. Picture a stationary tornado swirling with rage and a ferocious appetite for destruction. This is New York. When you get away from the epicenter, the winds begin to calm, the sky opens, birds chirp.

Down south the sky is clear. The majority of people I have encountered so far have been a pleasure. I’m sure I will run into a few ornery people while traveling the country, but for the most part, so far, so good. I feel like chum sitting here in my van with my out-of-state tags. Just waiting for the sharks to roll in and circle me. I feel like a dopey fish that swam into the wrong end of a lagoon and will now pay the price for his stupidity. But they don’t know I have a spray can full of ArmorAll sitting next to me and I am not afraid to use it.  Who am I kidding? They would pick me off in a minute. Knowing me, I would try talking them down first and when this tactic didn’t work I’d start the van and head for God knows where, all the while throwing free stuff out the window to try and make amends.

I hope this is just another case of my imagination running amok. It tends to make mountains out of mole hills and it usually blows stuff out of proportion. Anyway, let’s get back to the story shall we?

I enjoy the slower pace and the friendly drawl of the locals. The way they tip their hats, the way they are willing to help with directions, the way women call me ‘suga’ and ‘doll’. This morning I was filling up the gas tank and when I was done, I happened to ask the nice young fella behind the counter if he knew of any good churches to attend. This being Sunday and all, I figured I would check out a service. My schedule is rather open at the moment so I took the time to listen. When I mean time, I mean twenty minutes.

I love people. But I am prone to frustration. Yet I generally love spending time with strangers because most of the time people just need an ear to listen, a kind word spoken, maybe even a pat on the back. We are creatures in need of bonding, we want to be understood and recognized. So I took the time and heard him out. I felt bad afterwards because I never actually went to service. I went to Graceland instead.

The King was here in Memphis, TN.

Many, many years ago before my father ran out of our lives, he had an obsession with Elvis, which in turn, led me to enjoy listening too. Over the years, I slowly put the king to rest. When I walked around the outside of his mansion I realized people still loved this dude. Fortunately for me I arrived during “Elvis week”. There were little shops selling souvenirs, tour buses shuttling people back and forth, cops walked up and down the boulevard, people moseyed around with mutton chops and big black glasses. To be honest I thought it all unnecessary and a bit touristy.

Then I walked the around the rock wall which guarded the mansion. Thousands of names and well-wishes were gingerly written in stone by marker, some wrote in paint. It was touching. This man brought joy to millions of people in the form of music. I think I saw someone crying about a hundred yards away. Elvis passed over thirty years ago, yet his legacy lives on. I went back to my van and sorted through my junk and pulled out a Sharpie. I wrote my name on his wall.

When I pulled the cap off my marker, I jumped head first into all the hoopla with everyone else. I felt like I was doing something grand, albeit unoriginal. This will sound corny but the whole experience was rather nice. A part of me lives just outside of Elvis’ doorstep forever. That rocks.

Tennessee is a wonderful state filled with beautiful flowers and arching mountains that appear like ancient gods bursting through the ground. While in Nashville I walked across the Cumberland pedestrian bridge and looked out across the water towards LP Field and realized how blessed I am to be able to experience such things. To be able to get up and move, to be able to read and communicate are a miracle in themselves.

When you leave your comfort zone and drive into unknown territories you will notice subtle changes around you. Landscapes, attitudes, food, weather. Yet one single, absolute truth remains; there are hurting people everywhere, they are hungry and lost and in need of friendship. They are in need of kindness.

Some kid is playing a flute about a hundred yards away from where I’m parked for the night. It’s a melancholy song but I like to think he is content. Reminds me of a guy named Ben I met while in Nashville. I had a chance to sit with this fellow wanderer and listen to him play his banjo. He too found it in his heart to leave home and travel across country. He is looking to be inspired and goes from city to city playing his music, playing his songs for free to bring happiness to others without a price tag. Sometimes we need to do things just because.

Well, my fellow bloggers and readers alike, it is late. It is hot. I am going to try and get comfy and get some shut eye. Who knows what tomorrow will bring? Be safe, be blessed and until next time, chow.


Road Trip: My Intensive Care.

Me and the Shenandoah Valley.

On August 1st, 2012 I walked out of the Surgical Intensive Care Unit for the last time. It was my home for the past three years. I was sure the outside world had changed drastically since entering the insidious institution of sorrow, that mammoth structure filled with sporadic acts of selfless bravery I have never encountered before. I have seen the sick be made well, watched families unite and grudges forgotten. I look forward to exploring the brave world of the half living.

It’s very serious up there in the I.C.U. When I walked the circular corridors I looked into the eyes of the dying and wondered which dimension beckoned their souls, I pondered the state of their hearts. Nursing staff ran to and fro delivering medications or cleaning any of the three major fluid groups; urine, blood or stool. I am not a morbid person I can assure you. I just try to give you the facts.

You can see death you know. It starts by taking the color from your skin, leaving it grey and pasty. It slithers into the whites of your eyeballs and casts a sickly yellow film over your pupils. Mouths open slightly, breaths come out slower. You can hear death too. The Reaper takes its smoky hand and grabs hold of your esophagus, allowing only whispers to escape your lips, until you slowly fade into the light. In some dimension far beyond the sight of men, your spirit exits and enters some sort of Twilight Zone even Rod Serling would be proud to call his own.

I was tired of it all.

So, I left the madness, the alarms, the codes, the elevators. Have I mentioned the blood and the stool? One cannot stress this point enough. Give a patient a bottle of Jevity and just watch the gastrointestinal system do its job. For those of you not in the know, it’s basically chocolate milk pumped into your stomach by a machine to keep you from starving to death while you are in a medically induced coma.

This past Wednesday morning, I woke up to the sounds of an electronic rooster screaming in my ear and I walked out on my past life. Months of worry, weeks of preparation and hours of anxiety, all came to a head when I started my Grand Van and pulled out of the gravel driveway.

It’s a funny feeling to just get up and leave everything behind. Luckily for me I never procreated or bought land to tend to, so I am able to throw caution to the wind and try something new. Yes, I had a good job for several years. I will eventually find new employment and get back to the grind and all that balderdash, but for now I need to be inspired. I need to dream. I want to explore paths less traveled. Walk where only a few brave men and women have dared. See what this beautiful country has to offer before I go stark raving mad just trying to survive.

After twenty bucks and a pinky finger later, I crossed the threshold into Jersey and headed south on Interstate 95. I screamed and pounded the roof of my van and sang along to whatever song was playing. Freedom is such a beautiful concept and I guess I never really knew what the term meant. I have no home. My money is tight (what else is new). Everything I own in this world I crammed into the van, and to be honest with you, I feel it’s too much. Stuff, stuff, stuff. We accumulate all this crap and for what?

Driving south on I-95 I was filled with both excitement and sorrow. Excitement in knowing I am living out my destiny. This is what I was supposed to do. This is why I was created. Oh, I don’t know, I just have this grandiose idea about writing a novel and inspiring others, and in order for me to accomplish this I have to walk out on life and go across country like Jeremiah Johnson or something. I am sorrowful because I leave a wonderful family behind. I am skipping out on time with good friends, leaving loved ones is a hard thing to do.

Have you ever had a burning in your heart to do something? Ever feel the Spirit leading you into an unknown direction? What did you do with it? Did you let the dream simmer and spoil or did you take hold of the reigns and put courage before your fears? I believe the key to a successful life is not in your wallet, nor your head, but in your heart. Set out to do something wonderful today even if it is terrifying. The harder resistance, the more important it is.

I feel this way about my own journey. I have a destination, Colorado, what will I do when I get there? I couldn’t even begin to tell you. I am walking by faith because I haven’t a leg to stand on.

Anyway, back to my road trip. My first major stop was our beloved capitol Washington D.C, where I spent most of my time worrying about feeding the meters so no one towed my mobile home. I was a bit disappointed for not staying longer, but I had a chance to catch a few sights before tucking tail and heading further away from home.  I stood outside the White House and waited patiently for my invite, when the president came out to greet us he noticed me and graciously invited me in for tea and strumpets. I asked him about gas prices and how we were doing on the whole economy thing. The Secret Service kicked me out once I started a fight over who had a better chance of winning the Super Bowl this year. I still say Jets. He is obligated to say the Ravens. Whatever, come playoffs, he’s going to owe me a lot of money. I think he cursed at me as I was being shoved out of the Oval Office. I let it go.

Virginia is a beautiful state filled with rolling green hills and sporadic homesteads. The Shenandoah Valley opens up before you like a fairytale. When you drive through Shenandoah National Park, you are greeted with numerous overlooks and friendly faces. I wish you can all see it once before you leave this earth. As you climb in altitude, the scenery intensifies and brings you closer to heaven.

I will end this article now because I don’t want to overload you with too much information. I have driven almost eight hundred and fifty miles in the last two days, so I am about tapped in the energy department.  As I sit here in this small, rundown hotel (one where they don’t give you free toiletries mind you) just outside of Knoxville, I bid you all a goodnight. Tomorrow will bring more mystery and exploration and I can’t wait to share the journey with you. Set out to do something noble today. You may be surprised who you inspire.

P.S- If you are in Knoxville, do yourself a favor and stop by Marlin & Rays seafood joint for some good food and wonderful hospitality. Southern girls make you feel right at home.