For the First Time: Heading East

I’m writing this on Sunday night in the bed at the back of the bus. It’s peaceful in here: the three oldest kids are in their bunks with the occasional complaint about an early bedtime; Maile is writing at the front of the bus; and Sam just crawled into bed beside me, sucking his thumb and turning his blanket around and around and around, looking for the corner where the label sticks out.

Monday, the day you’re probably reading this, represents a rather momentous day for us: for the first time in three months and over 5,000 miles, we head east. Our trip began back in February when we headed south down the east coast, meandered through the southeast in March, drove west through Oklahoma and Texas in April, then cruised north up the California coast.

But on Monday we head east.

* * * * *

So many feelings surface as I consider heading east: relief that the trip is almost over; dread that the trip is almost over; excitement to see what the next few months will hold; fear about what the next few months will hold. Heading east means returning to friends and family, a community that we miss and the place I grew up. All good.

But this adventure, in its messiness and its fast pace and its immediacy, sometimes allowed me to overlook the everyday, pressing sorts of big picture issues I’d rather not be thinking about. Such as the fact that my current projects end in June. Such as the fact that right now we do not have a home. Such as the fact that we’re not sure where we will end up. Such as the fact that our travel expenditures have exceeded our budget by a good bit (thanks, diesel prices).

Returning home from such an adventure means laying aside the exciting for the practical, the unexpected for the everyday.

But I’ve concluded that this, also, is a good thing. The adventure, while it lasted (and continues to last for the next month), has broken many areas of my life down to their most basic elements, and then allowed me the space and time to build those areas back up. My marriage. Being a dad. Writing. Mile by mile, I’m reconstructing myself.

* * * * *

So tomorrow we head east. It’s hard to believe. There isn’t a whole lot that I can tell you about what my life will look like in a month’s time. Where we’ll live. What I’ll be doing for a living. But as I write those words, I realize that whatever does happen will simply be a continuation of this grand adventure we’ve been on, and I’m okay with that.

Better than okay – I’m eager for it. I’m eager to live this life. Just about anything is possible right now. I’ve decided to let that fill me with a sense of anticipation, and not a sense of worry.

Thanks in advance for traveling with us down the home stretch. You all have been such great traveling partners. Time to head for the sunrise.

What did the end of your latest adventure look like? How did the transition back into normal life go?

18 Replies to “For the First Time: Heading East”

  1. After living overseas for a while, and traveling back and forth, I’m feeling those transitions you’re describing: powerful, unsettling, exhilarating. Thanks for the chronicling thus far—I’ll be looking forward to more reports from the field as the journey ‘back’ (but not necessarily, ‘home’) continues, and as what is to follow unfolds.

    1. Thanks for the encouragement, Dan. Maile and I lived in the UK for four years – I know what you mean regarding those back-and-forths.

  2. Awesome post. I love that you guys have done this trip. I remember the first time I came home from our trip for Christmas it was a rough transition. I went from being able to spend as much time with God as I wanted, whenever I wanted, to suddenly trying to “fit him in” to my daily life. It left me spiritually drained and completely confused. After a while I learned that I need to find adventure no matter what I’m doing. Adventure on the inside of me. Although, I’m only 18. I’m sure your transition will be much smoother. I’ll be praying for you guys. For confidence rather than a need for a sense of clarity. God bless.

  3. I am creating a new term for what happened to me at the end of my marathon adventure. I call it PMD: post marathon depression. For MONTHS I planned and trained and thought about this big thing. And then in one day, a day like every other day, I crossed the finish line. But I wasn’t done living life. I wasn’t done running. I had merely met one stopping point. I’m irritable, restless, relieved and elated. It’ a confluence of crazy and I will make it through. As will you. Keep trucking, buddy. This adventure will not define the sum of you. But it is certainly part. Be safe,

    1. Ah, Jen, I hadn’t even thought of that, but it makes perfect sense. So much training. Life after the finish line.

  4. I feel like I’m in the middle of an adventure, almost like when God told Abraham to go to a land that He would show him. I just don’t know where I’ll end up.

  5. My family’s last adventure was a cruise in the Eastern Caribbean the first week of April. We started and ended the cruise in San Juan, Puerto Rico, visiting 5 different islands in between. Although the decision to take this cruise was decided summer 2011, I had no idea how perfectly God would time this trip in my life’s timeline. On 12/15/11, my sister was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer. On 3/15/12, my mom suffered a stroke. My sister was doing well and preparing for her major surgery. Now, I had to “worry” about Mom. Several times during those weeks after Mom’s stroke, I was doubting whether I would go or not. In the end, I did go, but it was hard. I visisted my Mom in the rehab hospital the night before we left. She cried when I said good bye, which made my waterworks start. The next morning, as we waited for our transportation to the airport, I had a meltdown about leaving Mom. I was not happy about going. However, God helped me to relax and gain some peace as I took in His beautiful creations of the Caribbean Islands. As we were making our final approach to the airport, my tears started again. I knew once we landed in Philadelphia, my “troubles” were waiting for me to pick them up. Mom was still in Rehab and my sister’s surgery was scheduled for that Wednesday. The cruise gave me just the right of respite care to help me face that week of the unknowns.

    Thanks for sharing your adventure! Safe travels as you head back East.

    1. Paula, I hope your sister and mom are doing well. What a turn of events – I can only imagine how difficult it must have been to leave. Your comment reminds me that we must live in this present moment. Thanks for sharing your journey with me.

  6. i cannot even begin to describe how happy this post makes me. i know you guys will have a lot to figure out when you get home but we will be with you every step of the way!! we cannot wait to have you all around again:)

    1. Between your trip and now ours, we have seen entirely too little of you in the last year! Looking forward to hanging out again.

  7. A glance at your title for the day kickstarted my thinking about an answer to your closing question before I saw it. Last August I threw a tent into the trunk and headed west. (You should know I hadn’t slept in a tent in over fifty years and hadn’t much enjoyed that.) I rolled out 7000 miles by the time I crossed the northern border of CA.

    I’d established few hard and fast goals for the trip but one was to run the PCH from end-to-end. So I started down the coast. I got briefly and satisfyingly lost on The Lost Coast (Sinkyone Wilderness Park) for a few days and sort of backtracked for a week in Yosemite and the Eastern Sierra with my adventure-travel-guide son Charles, but a couple weeks later I made LA. I had scheduled two days in LA. That turned into two weeks. I had never spent any time in this city and in fact wasn’t sure what LA was other than the opening scene on LA Law but I found out it’s made up of a lot of very attractive (and funky) little villages that my lenses could not resist. I stayed with a friend and made a few more and got much more comfortable than I would have ever thought possible. But it was mid-October now and I had to be in Austin by the end of the month to make an established date with my daughter so I reluctantly pulled up stakes and, like you headed purposefully east for the first time in two months. I went out through the Angeles National Forest (all those mountains to the east of LA that tend to disappear in the summer) and found my way into Barstow and from there I managed to make it another 275 miles eastward (really more north-south) over a 6 day period. I started to turn back several times. had to fight myself not to. But eventually the signals got weaker and I made it through CA and on to those beautiful parks in UT. Long story short, three months and 14,000 miles later I made it home to Virginia on Thanksgiving Day. Except it now no longer feels like home. I stumbled across a sentence the other day that sort of sums it up for me now: “Home is not a place; it’s where you’re understood.” I felt very understood on the road. I’m kitting up now for a year-long trip starting again in August. This time I’m not accepting that home is a place. Should be interesting.

    Follow your (and Maile’s) blog daily. Love your descriptions. You’re an excellent weaver. Travel safely.


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