Day 51: Southern Discomfort in Charlottesville

Once again on the road, this time heading north from Asheville, NC, towards Charlottesville, VA.  This is almost my last leg on my two-month solo road trip to see America, and the landscape gets more and more familiar as I creep back towards the Northeast. But for now, I am still in the South, and…

Day 50: Great Smokies to Asheville, NC

After waking up in the Motel 6 in northern Nashville, I had turned on the ancient TV in my cement-block cell to one of three channels that came in with limited static:  CNN.  As I rushed through my morning routine (eager to flee this cold, dark version of motel-hell), I watched the morning anchors go…

Day 49: Honky Tonkin’ in Music City, USA

The trip from Memphis to Nashville, Tennessee, is an easy three hour or so drive along Interstate 40.  Mostly forest and farmland line the highway.  Cotton fields turn into cattle grazing on rolling hills and along the way you cross some lazy rivers where you can imagine a Huck Finn or Tom Sawyer casting a…

Day 48: The Memphis Blues

After saying goodbye to my new friends at the La Quinta in Little Rock, I headed out early for Memphis, Tennessee.  It was only about 2 1/2 hours away, but I needed to get to the National Civil Rights Museum before it closed at 1 PM for a private event. As I headed back into…

Day 47: Big Love in Little Rock

The drive from Oklahoma City to Little Rock was composed mostly of long, flat stretches of highway through paster land and prairie, punctuated by road work.  Interstate 40 is a main artery of transportation, with mostly semi-truck traffic.  It has been neglected for many years and now the highway buckles and crumbles.  You have to…

Day 46: Everything is OK in OKC.

I leave Texas and drive further east, coming into Oklahoma.  I’ve downloaded the soundtrack for the original movie soundtrack for Oklahoma! so I am singing “I’m just a girl who can’t say no!” as I cross the border.  It feels right.  And I’m having fun. Oklahoma is more prairie, grassland and the highway doesn’t deviate…

Day 45: Don’t Mess with Texas! $200 fine if you do.

After saying my thanks and goodbyes to Marion and Tim, I head out once again, this time, heading east towards Amarillo, Texas. Route 40 (have I told you?) is long, straight, boring and slightly dangerous.  One of the main transportation arteries for the country, Rt. 40 is also the new Rt. 66, overlaying most of…

Day 44: Georgia on my mind.

Today, I woke up after a sweet night’s sleep in Marion and Tim’s home and got going early to Santa Fe.  The drive was only a an hour and 20 minutes away, so I arrived in town by 11:30.  I parked the car and walked over to the Georgia O’Keefe museum, passing the old town…

Day 43: Wild, authentic New Mexico.

With Gallup behind me, I moved into the interior of New Mexico.  Suddenly, the radio stations weren’t all Christian Rock and Country.  More variety, more liberal, more diverse New Mexico opened up to me.  And although I was getting road weary, I was excited to have a few days to explore this part of the…

Days 41-42: The Northern Rim.

Leaving Lees Ferry Lodge and my new friends, Ginger and Linda was hard.  Lots of hugs, exchanges of phone numbers and declarations of future visits before I could pull myself away and off to the Grand Canyon. It had become a mission of mine to reach the Grand Canyon and now, here I was:  quite…

Day 40: Opening the Portal

I wanted to get out of Utah, but there was a few things still on my list.  Luckily, they were on the road southwest to Arizona.  I took Highway 163 out of Bluff and on my way, past Mexican Hat.  There is an odd rock that sits precariously on top of a pile of rocks…

Day 39: Mormons creep me out (sorry, the FLDS creeps me out).

First, let me clarify this statement:  I believe that people have every right to believe what they want to believe.  I have no problem with religion so long as people don’t try to talk down to me or evangelize.  You can believe in some magical underwear and golden plates that only Joseph Smith saw, if…

Days 36-37: Moab Re-set

The next morning when I awoke in my cheap motel in Hatch, Utah, I looked out the window and only saw a thick layer of fog.  I realized that this might take a while to burn off and that was okay since I am now so used to my morning routine of waking slowly, stretching…

Day 34-36: Feeling low in the High Desert

Leaving Las Vegas was easy.  I got out as quickly as possible, grabbing bite and coffee at Micky D’s, filling up the tank, and then heading out and up to Zion National Park. The drive up to Zion was pleasant but long.  By the time I rolled into Springdale, it was after 2 PM.  Springdale…

Days 32-33: Vegas, baby!

Yeah, I went there.  Had to.  The curiosity got to me and I felt like going to Vegas would  be some sort of weird social science experiment: how would a leftie, old-school kind of a gal handle the plastic of Sin City?  So, after leaving San Luis Obispo, I headed east.  (For the first time,…

Days 29-31: The Camino Real – My Mission Trail.

Some call this road trip own personal Camino.  This is a reference to the Camino de Santiago, a popular walking trail that stretches across Europe towards Santiago, Spain, where pilgrims finish up their personal journeys with a blessing in the cathedral which holds relics from Saint James.  For centuries, pilgrims and tourists have taken up…

Day 24: California Dreaming.

After leaving sweet, little, but smoky Ashland, Oregon, I got back on the trail towards my friend’s house in Oakland.  I crossed the border from Oregon into California, passing through a checkpoint at the border, where I was asked if I had any contraband fruits or veggies.  I was surprised by this, but it is…

Day 23: Oregon is smokin’.

Today, I was traversing from Bend, Oregon to Ashland, Oregon, making a diagonal line from northwest to southeastern Oregon.  I was hoping to to go to Portland and then take the long and winding Rt. 1 along the coast, but the sciatic nerve was telling me to get to California as fast as I could. …

Day 22: What in the Sam Hill is that?

This post is dedicated to my friend Ben, who advised me to stop in Maryhill, Washington on my way to Bend, Oregon today.  He said that there was an American Stonehenge here and he wasn’t kidding. As I left Walla Walla, I entered in the coordinates for this attraction and within 2 hours, I was…

Day 21: Lewis, Clark, Sacajawea, and me.

This was a LONG day.  I drove from Condon, MT. to Walla Walla, Washington along the beautiful but torturous Route 12.  This scenic highway follows the path that Meriwether Lewis, William Clark, their guide, Sacajawea, a few US Army soldiers traveled in 1804-06 on the Corps of Discovery Expedition.  They were charged by Thomas Jefferson…

Day 20: Glacier National Park drive-by

After managing to find my legs on Monday, I muscled through and headed up to Glacier National Park.  My first obstacle was a low tire pressure light going on in my Rav4, so after pumping in air, I thought I was good.  But an hour later, the light came on again, so off to the…

Days 17-20: Fellowship and Compassion in Condon, MT

Where to begin?  Well, I guess I’ll start by saying the sciatica has not improved – which is depressing – but I have a plan and I am managing, so I guess it is as good as it can be. What really helped, mentally and physically, was stumbling upon new friends in the wilds of…

Day 17 & 18: Bozeman to paradise, MT

After leaving the rutting elk in Yellowstone, I headed up Highway 89 to Bozeman.  I had booked a cheap motel called the Bozeman Inn (surprise) and I found my room clean but worn and smelling of cigarette smoke.  Hey, you get what you pay for. After checking in with MSNBC to see what the f**k…

Days 15 & 16: Yellowstone!

After hauling my sore arse out of Cody, I finally made it to Yellowstone!  And what a gem.  It really is an amazing place.  So many different landscapes and environments.  From geysers to glaciers, from grizzlies to bison, this park has it all.  Unfortunately, it also has a ton of people.  And mind you, I…

Day 14: Wild, wild west.

Laying low in Cody, WYo today.  My first move after a painful rise, was to head up to the main house and properly meet my Airbnb hostess, Jo, who served me delicious locally roasted coffee and scones made by her mother-in-law.   Jo and her husband, Bounty, and their son, Hector, and big, beautiful Akita, Rooster,…

Day 14: From Buffalo to Buffalo Bill

This morning, after a very rough start, I left Buffalo for Cody, Wyo.   This morning, as I lay writhing in pain in my motel room, I thought my trip was a goner.  I had calculated how I could possibly make the drive back to Boston, let alone drive to Cali, and around the SW and…

Day 13: Men in Stone, Woman in Pain

I am writing this post from the comfort of a bed at the Buffalo Inn located, where else, Buffalo, Wyoming.  I have to start of this post informing my dear readers that I have succumbed to physical ailment I didn’t see coming.  Sciatica. Before I left Boston, I was religiously doing my stretches for my…

Day 12: The Prairie and Deadwood, SD

I need to begin this post with the evening before.  First, let me say that the distance between the North and South Units of Teddy Roosevelt is a long and harrowing drive along Highway 85.  On Day 11, I had driven from my beautiful campsite under the old cottonwood tree in the North Unit, down…

Day 9: Holy crap! It’s the Aurora Borealis!

Well, my plan worked.  Two beers at the Rock Nook restaurant in Ely, Minnesota before bedtime and I was up at 12:30 AM looking for the bathroom (or rather level ground in the woods next to my campsite).  I had known the chances of seeing the Northern Lights was pretty good since I religiously look…

Day 8: Hawks and Wolves

I woke up in my smelly motel room in Duluth eager to get up and out of Dodge.  After writing my blog posts, I packed up, ate some sketchy free breakfast in the motel’s “dining room” and headed north along the western edge of Lake Superior. Northern Duluth was a much less depressing sight.  Middle…

Day 7: Crossing the UP and into Duluth.

After breaking camp at Little Beaver Lake, I headed back towards Munising.  I stopped off at Miner’s Castle, an overlook at Pictured Lake National Park, where you can view some of the famous striated sandstone.  It was impressive, but I had a long drive ahead, so I did the quick trek down to the “castle”…

Day 6: From the Soo to the Yupper.

Up here people are proud and independent.  Hard working but in their free time, they like to hunt and fish.  They’ll get out on the massive lakes in their canoes or ride on frozen water in snowmobiles.  Camp is a way of life and pretty much every one seems to have one:  little rustic log…

Day 5: Moving across Northern Ontario by land and sea

Day 5 began at 6 AM.  I thought that would give me plenty of time to make it to my 8:50 AM ferry across Lake Huron, but I may have underestimated the time it took me to de-camp.  Yup.  I did. I had to be there by 7:50, in order to guarantee a spot on…

Day 4: Resting in Tobermory, ON

Today I didn’t get in my car except to re-pack it.  And let me tell ya, after only 4 days of traveling, it looked like a bomb had gone off in there.  Frantic searches for bottle openers or tent stakes made for a very disorganized mess.   Disconcerting since I thought I had done such an…

The real Day 3: Canadians are terrific.

Oh, Canada!  This is how I started my third day of travel:  with lots of Canadian hospitality and good will and love.   First, after a restful night’s sleep in my Niagara Falls Airbnb, I came down to find an lovely spread of breakfast makings on a dining room table.  Yogurt, bread, muffins, granola, and puddings…

Day 1: Boston to Ithaca, It’s Gorgeous, er Gorges.

Today, I finally left for my road trip.  After months of planning obsessively and days of packing and outfitting “the rig”, I finally got in and turn the key and headed out. First, stop:  Rack Attack!  Shout out to Brian at the Framingham store who changed out the cylinder and gave me a new, locking…

Mel’s Road trip to “Find America” 2018

I begin this trip, not in the best of health, physically, financially, and some would argue, emotionally. But then, when are we ever in tiptop shape? When are we ever prepared for the unexpected? Change comes at us when we are least prepared, so here I go. I embrace it. I throw myself into the…

Turkey, before Syria

Ah, Turkey.  Land of intense and strange landscapes, incredibly delicious food, and lazy sunsets over the Mediterranean.  That is all still true, but today, Turkey is at the center of a migrant crisis and terrorism network hell-bent on taking the luster out of its burgeoning tourist trade.   Even with its hawkish and conservative president,…

Ode to a Great “Third Place”

This essay was written in November, 2015, just a few months after the closure of James’s Gate.   It was published in the Jamaica Plain Gazette on Nov. 20. 2015. It has now been several months since we were all shocked to learn that the James’s Gate Pub had closed. And the sadness hasn’t lessened. Why…

Finding my way to paradise

The instructions from my host to her Airbnb stay were not very specific. A hand drawn map with images of alpacas and roos by the side of curved roads gave hints at a rural location and her artistic streak, but little else. The GPS on my rental car had given up miles ago and I was…

Aotearoa, New Zealand, or N-Zed?

Finally,  I was on my way to the other side of the planet.  Overpacked for a month of travel to New Zealand and Australia, but too excited to care.  I had been planning this trip for years, saving my skymiles, and researching what could be the “trip of a life time.”  First stop, Aotearoa, or…