Solo

The morning sun is slowly burning off the clouds keeping its warmth from reaching me, shivering and scribbling at a warped brown plastic table beside a pristine rushing creek here in a secluded campground at Bighorn National Forest, Wyoming. I cracked open a Hot-Hands body warmer my friend Regina sent in one of her signature care packages to my teammate David and I last April while we were working in Kentucky. It took four months to find its glory, but found it it has. My chest is warming nicely.

That’s one of the fun little things about travel: how when one places oneself in a hundred different situations, or variations on a theme for a long while, all the little gifts and treats, or words of advice given and gathered from a myriad of people gain special significance. The body warmer mailed from Mississippi to Kentucky by a friend and opened in Wyoming. A swiss army knife given to me by another friend in gradeschool which has opened cans and carved walking sticks across the continental U.S. this year. A toiletries bag my uncle gave me when I graduated high school which I have used nearly every day for six years and which has seen over thirty five states with me. A cooking stove my mother gave me which has grudgingly but faithfully prepared my limited trailside culinary repertoire of angel guts (navy beans, sweet corn, instant white rice and lite spam) and oatmeal from Tennessee to Oregon. An old beat up watch my dad gave me which kept four different time zones organized en route to New Zealand and which has not left my wrist for more than a day in nearly two years. A dehydrated backpacking meal (Thai curry), part of a larger gift from my aunt that was mostly consumed somewhere north of Queenstown, NZ, and that godwilling has kept since the end of 2015 so as to become a welcome departure from my cooking tonight. I learned how to make a fire with sopping wet wood from friends I met on the trails in Tennessee last summer, and it saved last nights dinner a year and thousands of miles later. And all these I record with my favorite Pilot needlepoint pen – a gift from my brother.

I sat down to write about the experience of traveling alone, but it seems I have been appropriately ambushed by the understanding that I am never really alone; every adventure I’ve ever had, I carried with me the support, friendship, and love of too many people to count, manifest in ways I am probably mostly unaware of. If you are one of those people upon whose shoulders I stand, thank you! I enjoy a nearly unparalleled freedom, mostly thanks to the merit, love, and sacrifice of others. I am young, healthy, and well-educated. I have been well loved by my family and friends who have raised me up strong and given me the support and confidence I need to explore one of the greatest countries in the world, made so and kept safe by millions in uniform who risk fates worse than death to keep it that way.
I have a lot to be grateful for, and I figure one way to give back the blessings that allow me to undertake a trip like this is to share what parts of it I can. So thanks for following along, and I hope you enjoy reading about the places I’ve been. Chances are, if you know me, you helped me get there.

~

I’ve been compiling an ever growing list of interesting names so far encountered on my travels: names of towns, cities, roads, lakes, boats, people, institutions, etc. It started last summer as I was traveling with my team through the Southeast, and has grown ever since. I’ve already posted the AmeriCorps list on my first blog, so this list only includes names from a camping trip my friend Sean organized this summer just before I left in June up until the time of this writing.

There’s a lot in a name. They can give you clues to the geographical and cultural history of a place. They can be the result of a kitschy town planner laying in a new upscale suburb near a tourist town. Sometimes I honestly think they’re the result of lonely explorers who haven’t seen a female that walked on two legs in a few too many weeks. Often its the placement of a series of names together that follow a theme which is particularly chuckleworthy, whether the connection is intentional or not. Often it’s the geographical context that makes a name exotic but fitting to its locale, like Tierra del Mar Rd in the pacific northwest. Sometimes they’re only funny if you pronounce them wrong. This list might be more of an insight into what I consider interesting than anything else. Anyway, here it is.

All of the names on this list I and/or my brothers have personally seen on America’s roads this summer. I still think some of them are too good to be true.

Coxsackie NY
Poughkeepsie NY
Wemple Road NY
Nippletop Mountain, part of the Dix mountains in the Adirondacks, NY
Schenectady NY
Watervliet NY
Cohoes NY
Halfmoon NY
Krumsville PA
Foul rift road PA
Good Ole lane PA
Letterkenny army Depot pa
Balls creek NC
Double Dee Lane NC
Loviee Rd NC
Murder creek Alabama
Little lizard creek Alabama
Cibola (city of gold) wilderness, not to be confused with nearby cebolla (onion) wilderness, El Malpais NM
Skull Valley AZ
Peeples valley AZ
Buttock Road AZ
Long Jim Loop, AZ
Ghost Town RD AZ
El Rocko AZ
El Cajon CA
Fort Dick, CA, just south of Yontocket.
Whiskeytown lake CA
Brandy creek CA
Yolo county CA
Truckee Creek CA
Skunk point picnic area, CA (who did this?!)
Hardscrabble Creek, CA
Seawood  (?) OR
Smoke jumper base, OR
Rough and ready creek, OR
The Good Way, OR
Butcherknife Creek, OR
George creek OR
Starvation Heights, OR
Rouge river Oregon
Valley of the Rogue Or
Dick Creek OR
Johnny creek OR
Bone Creek OR
Armsworthy st Oregon
Tierra del Mar road Oregon
Ebb Ave or
Jetty Ave or
D river “world’s shortest” Oregon
Singing tree Oregon
Walking wood Oregon
Cape Foul Weather Oregon
Devils Punch Bowl state park Oregon
Schmeer Rd WA
Vader WA
Tumwater WA
The Puff yacht in seattle
Peregrinations yacht Seattle
Buena WA
Horse heaven WA
Idahome Idaho
Helper UT
Loudermilk ranch UT
Spud Hill Road Colorado
Ridgway Colorado (not ridgEway. Named for chief engineer of railroad going through town)
Uncompahgre mountain, Colorado
24 1/2 and 25 3/4 roads, Grand Junction Co
Mcstiffs Plaza moab utah
Tangle leg drive, Eagles nest nm
Tierra dorada ranch nm
Little Arsenic Campground, NM
The town of Pueblo, (nm? Co?)
Uintah, Colorado
Happy Canyon Road, Colorado
My Brothers Bar, Denver
Rd 34y Goshen cty Wyoming
Happy Jack Rd, WY
Missile Drive WY
Stardust trail WY
Chugwater, WY
Crazy Woman Creek, WY
Belle Rousche river, WY
Rawhide Creek, SD
Lame Johnny Lane, SD
Old Woman Creek, SD
Shorb RD, SD
Broken Spoke Pl., SD

And more to come. . .

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s