Storms of life: hard to film, harder to describe

That was NUTS.  Did I really just survive that?!  SHOOT – Why didn’t I FILM IT??!!!  I could’ve mounted the camera right behind the seat and…  Oh that’s right, I was busy hoping I wouldn’t float away.

The storms' a comin'
The view west from Hwy. 65.. storm’s a comin’

The worst storm of my entire life – at least while in an automobile, was in Waterproof, Louisiana.  I’m not making that up.  The town is called Waterproof.  Unfortunately my convertible top was anything but.

 

The view before:

And during…

Wipers having no effect in Louisiana

Looking at these pictures now, from a comfortable coffee shop in sunny California, even myself I’m thinking “it probably wasn’t that bad, was I wimping out? I’ve been through storms before that were…”

No.  It was bad.  Really bad.  The wipers were having almost no effect.  The wind was pushing the car east towards the corn fields.  The road was not even visible.  Then the water started coming in.  First through the back corners – the gaping gaps between the window and top – then through the front by the latches, and the sides, dripping on my knees, my shoulders, all over.  Then because it was a two-lane road the semi-trucks literally buried me in a Maverick’s – style big wave smash of water every time I got a little comfortable.  The only picture I got (above) was after it had calmed down and by then there was an equal amount of water inside the car as outside.

Oh how I was cursing the man who said he’d put on a new top before I left on my trip then flaked out and never ordered it.  Curse. Curse. Curse.

*     *     *

 

Waterproof tower waterproof town flood

From the shot above it’s clear Waterproof has a history of this level of nonsense.  I’m sure the jokes are non stop and have made their way onto t-shirts, postcards, and hats.  Not trucker hats but real hats.  Hats that double as jackets.

Waterproof parka
According to the National Weather Service for my storm from June, one could expect “severe thunderstorms from North Dakota to Louisiana, with some locations receiving between 3″-6″ of rain, hail, and strong wind gusts.”  So no – I wasn’t imagining it.

 

*     *     *

 

Let’s give it one more shot – from Northern North Carolina…


Nope. Just not that impressive.

It sure sounds like a thick dose of self-help-blah-blah- but it might be just actually true – the storms of our lives are impossible to describe.  It’s why support groups exist.  “Oh you went through ___ ? No way – so did I.”  At least someone, somewhere, can somewhat relate.

The friends of mine who visited my father’s house-scourging project will forever have a different opinion and memory than those who didn’t.  It just couldn’t be described.  3,000+ records.  Books and old VHS tapes on every – EVERY inch of shelf space.  Not all junk though – cool stuff, framed butterflies, dried plants, amazing maps and posters, old books about American Indians, John Muir, Olmsted history, and more.  The “more” in fact is probably what can’t be described.  You just had to see it. Seventeen old stand-up record players.  A garage full of 100-year old Singer sewing machines.  An old cash register we couldn’t lift – how did he get it in there??  No idea.. let alone why.

 

*     *     *

So what – do we only hang out with those who can relate to us and all of our ups and downs?  Maybe.  If the storm / wound/ scar is very fresh maybe we don’t hang out with anyone at all.  If you’ve dealt with cancer in your family, or with losing a close friend, it’s not all doom and gloom but it’s also a losing case to try to explain it to someone who just can’t understand – just like you before you went through it.

Maybe though the storms can have an unintended effect – to wash off not just the dirt, but the cynicism.  The hard edge of life that builds up like the red dirt of Alabama on an old screen door.  Because when you come through a serious storm you’re usually at least one notch down.  Seeing your own mortality can do that.  Seeing a cliff you almost went off, a river you almost washed away in, existing in a car that’s dripping gallons of water on the inside yet somehow still keeps running…  You come out – at least I did – grateful.  Heart pumping faster.  Clearer vision.  Maybe even with a feeling that it’s time to call someone you care about.  Family, friends, “hey – uh, I wasn’t sure there for a bit but.. well anyway how are you doing?”

Tough to go through, tough to describe.

Maybe we don’t need to.  Maybe the change in attitude, the huge hug you give those you care about, the edge off of your road rage or phone manner will say enough.  Pushed to the edge is probably a good thing once in awhile.

*     *     *

But hey, your storms are your own – this is how I felt after mine..

My personal Shawshank moment White Lake, NC Floating on White Lake, NC

 

Happy Tuesday, it’s good to be here.

::

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The Neutral Zone: A break in the action

I see it in their eyes. I can read it on their faces before they even speak. Concern met with a slight disdain for the sheer irresponsibility of my not having an answer to their question

“Yeah but when are you coming back?”

Orange Beach, AL
Orange Beach, AL

It’s not like I have no idea, it’s just that the question needs some clarification. By “coming back” do they mean from this particular trip or from this transition chapter that I’m four years into and thought would be well over by now?

For all i know I may never come back.  And where is “back” anyway?

“I’ll take questions that don’t have clear answers for $1000 Bob” –

*     *     *


Everything I hoped would happen on this trip 
is happening – I’ve explored and slept in and driven through soul-stirring landscapes of awe and grandeur from California to Utah, from Zion park to Monument Valley, through the forests of northern New Mexico, the swimming holes and hill country of Texas, the parishes and swamps of Louisiana, the history (and sudden monsoons) of Mississippi, the sugar white beaches of Alabama’s gulf shores, the BBQ and music history of Nashville, and the down home natural beauty of the smoky mountains.  

In a 50 year old car that has no business running so well.

French Broad River, TN

I’ve been gone almost two months.

 

And yet I still feel like if I could just think for a bit, it would all get figured out.

“But how can you say you still need time or space to think?! You didn’t have time to
think in the vastness of Monument Valley?  On the long road from Reno to Bonneville? Or across Texas?  For crying out loud you should’ve been able to write your autobiography driving across Texas!”

That’s what I’m saying, yes.

I need more time.  Or maybe not. Shoot what do I know anymore anyway?

 *     *     *

I realize I’ve been hoping – for longer than just this trip – for a silver bullet – a clear and quick “aha” moment. One that I’ll look back on and say “of course!  How didn’t I see that?”  But what I’m probably going to get will be more like a barge carving methodically through ice and sludge in the Arctic, delivering the answer like a snail mail letter to scientists in a hut at the last stop on earth. 

It might take a while.

If life is a journey, not a destination, (yes I did just quote Steven Tyler), why do we think a major answer like purpose or calling from God and or the universe will appear instantaneously like a stuffed gopher popping out of his hole in the whack-a-mole game at the arcade?

Because we’re patient as long as it’s not *too* long.  I mean, “c’mon, Bobby I’ve got work to do!”

Corey and Corey2

(random 80’s teen movie references are always welcome)

Plenty of articles have been written – heck I’m reading a decent book right now called, of all things, “transitions.”  And it’s actually pretty good. 

Transitions by William Bridges

It talks about the endings, how important they are, and not much about the new beginnings because, I’m guessing, they’re new – that’s the point. The author doesn’t know what my new beginnings will look like just as I don’t either.

The interesting chapter I’m in now, and no I didn’t plan it like this, is called the neutral zone. That space when it feels like *nothing* is happening.  And I mean NOTHING.

 

Uh, ok yes I can relate. 

Nothing happen'n in Monument Valley
Nothing happen’n in Monument Valley

The author’s advice – you may guess – is that it’s ok. I know I know, everything’s “ok” from someone growing up in the 70’s and 80’s, but no – he’s not just saying its ok, but that it’s actually necessary. You have to go through a fallow time if you want to really leave whatever you were leaving behind.  

And yes, yes I do want to leave it behind.  

Tony and Alden :: Zion Narrows

So what now?  

Am I seriously no further along than when I started this journey?  Other than being 5,000 miles away from friends and family and the predictable weather of Northern California?

Well if it’s truly a process – this neutral time, this vapor paradox life, then yes, I’m actually much further along, in fact, I’d say I’m in the thick of the nothingness right now. 

NC State Line Collage

Sheer profundity I know.

 

But I am.  I gotta give myself some credit after all.  I knew what I needed, or at least something that I hadn’t had in over 10 years, and that I knew was important.  I planned it and took a leap of faith and here we are.  Charlotte. In July. Sticky. Cockroaches. Painting a house.

 

Me and my Ukulele

Welcome to my neutral zone.

And unless I want to stay in it forever I guess I’d better experience it, live in it, not rush it, not force my way through it.  Just be.

Shoot. I might actually be learning something.

Now where did that cockroach I thought I stepped on disappear to?

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Road Trip Rule #5:

Explore your roots - Olmsted Power Plant in Provo
Visiting my Great-Grandfather’s power plant in Provo, UT

Everyone’s got ’em.  Even if you’re adopted and just meeting up with your birth mother at a McDonald’s in Montana at age 20 it’s still important.

::     ::     ::

My dad had often talked of the power plant in Provo, but I guess with all my Olmsted history: Central Park, Boston’s Emerald Necklace, California State Parks Survey, and literally hundreds more, I just didn’t grasp that it was my actual Great Grandfather, Fay Deveaux Olmsted, who was chief engineer of a power plant in the Provo River Canyon that was just recently decommissioned – in September of 2015.  At only 26 years of age he happened into the position by being intelligent and available when the builders of the plant, the already proven Nunn Brothers, were busy working on the East coast with George Westinghouse.

Paul and Lucien Nunn had already made significant names for themselves when they created the world’s first Alternating Current Power Plant, just a few miles away in Telluride, Colorado, http://www.uh.edu/engines/epi2641.htm and had convinced Mr. Westinghouse to work with them again, dangling a reputed pouch of gold, in fact $50,000 worth.

Unfortunately for “Fred” as he was called, my Great Grandfather contracted tuberculosis and died just a few months before the plant opened, at age 28.  Brothers Paul and Lucien named the plant in his honor.

Olmsted Power Plant Campus, Provo UT
Olmsted Power Plant Campus, Provo UT
Alden with Nancy and Daryl
Behind the scenes tour with Nancy Calkins and Daryl Devey
AC Current stamp
Original Turbine Generator at Olmsted Power Plant, Provo UT
Standing in awe at my Great Grandfather's power plant in Provo, UT
Standing in awe at my Great Grandfather’s power plant in Provo, UT

What makes this more than just a power plant is one factor that my father also shared: education.  The Olmsted Plant had dormitories and a complete program in place to house and school young engineering students, send them off to get a formal degree, and then many times to hire them back later in an effective cycle of book learning + hands on learning = extremely knowledgeable workers.  Also interesting to me was hearing how water was diverted from the Provo river and transported in channels cut into the mountain, oddly similar to the defunct water channels that my dad found in the late 1970’s that he would use to build the first wheelchair nature trail in the U.S., the Independence Trail in Nevada City.

I guess I shouldn’t be so surprised anymore when things come full circle.

 

*     *     *

As we sat on the banks of the Provo river, ate our lunch and dipped in the chilly (but oh so refreshing) water, I ruminated on one feat of Fay D. Olmsted that the power plant tour didn’t cover: he also had a son.  Had he not had my grandfather Jack, pictured below, who went on to win a Rhodes’ fellowship, play briefly on the courts at Wimbledon, become a professor at UCLA and part founder of UC Riverside, and of course, become a father himself to Johnny and Billy then I wouldn’t even..  well, you know.

Jack Olmsted in 1909, Alden Olmsted in 2016
Jack Olmsted in 1909, Alden Olmsted in 2016

 

Maybe settling on a career isn’t the only thing I’m here to do.

 

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Road Trip Rule #4:

2,780 miles = Calif. to Charlotte.
4,780 miles = the route I took instead.

Monument Valley, AZ
Monument Valley, AZ

I used to be all about speed.  All about efficiency.  Now – it’s not that I don’t still love a well oiled plan or car or vacation or business model, I do, but you gotta know when to plan a trip, and when to take an adventure.   It would have been 2800 miles direct to Charlotte, my odometer when I arrived showed a tad more: 4,780 in fact – about 1500 more than even I’d estimated.  But so what?  I’ve been wanting to see Monument Valley for years.  Same with Zion.  Same with the Blue Hole.  Same with..  well you get the picture.  Of course I didn’t have to do everything on this one trip, but if life is in fact a highway, then I’m gonna ride it.  All night long.

And yes I think after almost 5,000 miles I’ll use a few cliches.  Bring it in boys it’s about who wants it more.  Let’s do this.

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Road Trip Rule #3:

Santa Rosa, New Mexico

I probably read about it in a random “seat-back” magazine put out by XYZ airline six or seven years ago: The Blue Hole.  I put it on my mental list like we all do – but in a strange way an in between spot like Eastern New Mexico feels more rare to visit than places much further away.

Part of a seven hole-network of natural springs in Santa Rosa, New Mexico, the Blue Hole is actually a premier dive practice spot at 81′ deep and with nearly crystal clear water.  Every six hours the water is completely regenerated, pumping out 3,000 gallons per minute.  And yes it’s pretty cold.  I’ve swam in the Colorado at 44 degrees, the Northern Pacific Ocean at 52, Lake Tahoe and the Merced River in Yosemite, among others, and yes, this is cold.   However it’s still a welcome spot along old Route 66 – U.S. 40 between Albuquerque and Dallas and highly recommended if just for the otherworldly feel of the place. Thankfully it’s kept up pretty well and located in a public park – only cost is $5 to park and well worth it.  Stop by.  Jump in.  Enjoy.

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Road Trip Rule #1:

Some people ask me “How do I plan a proper road trip” – well here you go – I’ve broken it down so in case I’m detained in a third-world country or otherwise unavailable you can follow these simple steps and build your own memorable trip, one that your passengers and you will never forget.

#lifeisahighway

Trip planning starts with picking your horse.. uh, vehicle.  No matter what you think, your car really does say a lot about you.  Mine is a little beat up 1966 Chrysler convertible – a little rough around the edges, but a tried and true sled built to handle Mississippi thunderstorms, Arizona “dry” heat, South Dakota Indian reservations, all while cruising in its own unique style.  The ladies might not all jump in, but they all want to.

You might say “but I don’t have an old convertible – are you saying I should purposely pick a potentially unreliable car just so the trip is interesting?”  Absolutely not.  Although I can definitely set you up with one if you really want to live.  Your trip is your own.  Your version of risk might be to leave the kids with Grandma, or to take them.  Or it might be going somewhere you’ve never been, where they drive on the other side of the road, or don’t speak your language.  There’s plenty of ways to incorporate risk without sabotaging your fun, and some of it might be an art I will admit.

 

*      *     *

A great trip starts with risk.  Risk like grabbing the girl and eloping to Reno.  Like shooting a hole in the radiator if the trip gets boring.  Or like taking a 50- year old car across the United States – and taking the scenic route.

A visit to Monument Valley is a must. If you can swing it in a classic convertible.. even better!
Monument Valley and friends

The above shot for example.. does that happen if we’d taken the same trip in a Camry?

*     *     *

Risk.

Your trip, your life, and your stories.. they’ll all be better off with at least a pinch of it.

 

 

 

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Five things about Nashville – so what if I’ve only been here a week?

Yes and no.

Yes I have enjoyed Nashville.  No the trip isn’t over.  I also made it to Orange Beach, Alabama before heading north and yes I got pretty sunburned.  No I haven’t had grits yet.  Yes amazingly the Chrysler is still running great and yes I got in one of the worst storms of my life on Hwy. 65 between Louisiana and Vicksburg but survived.  No I haven’t been to a Waffle House yet and no I still don’t know when the trip will end.

Jake's Bakes Polar Sandwich Nashville.. sticky good
Jake’s Bakes Polar Sandwich Nashville.. sticky good

But yes, I have enjoyed Nashville.

*     *     *

As far as I can tell Nashville is a small to medium-sized town being asked to act more like a big city.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that, so it depends who you ask.  Many roads have no left turn lane (apparently that’s a big city thing), so all it takes is one car turning left to jack up everyone’s day.  Every great local restaurant now has three locations and was featured on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. Therefore rarely are any of them without a line.

What does that mean?  Well it means that – and hopefully no one’s listening – but it means that Nashville prices are still pretty low.  It means that whether you’re investing in a duplex on the edge of town or in a brisket sandwich and sweet tea you’re probably going to get a pretty good deal – at least for now.

Here’s hoping it’s a slow climb.

*     *     *

Here’s Nashville broken down into five things that you’ve either heard about or done, or need to, straight from the mouth of a one-week local:

1. BBQ.  Sorry Memphis but as far as the people who write lists are concerned, Nashville has surpassed the blues city as the best BBQ in TN, maybe the U.S.  I don’t know that it really matters because once you get to this level third place still means you’re eating well.  It’s like ranking Russell Wilson, Cam Newton, and Tom Brady.  With apologies to Packer fans.

Arnold's Meat & Three -Nashville, TN

Eating like a local at Arnold's Nashville
Eating like a local at Arnold’s Nashville

For me Arnold’s (above) had the best of everything: close to downtown, local history, amazing ribs and desserts, and the perfect blend of down-home southern and present day ingredients and relevance.  That’s Khalil – whose parents started Arnold’s – pointing and extolling us to try the Cherrywood smoked ribs because they are amazing.  Yes we did.  And yes they were.

Runner-ups (and yes it’s very very close):

      • Martin’s BBQ –
Martin's BBQ - a Nashville must
Martin’s Redneck Taco – a Nashville must
        • Edley’s BBQ
        • Jack Cawthon’s BBQ
        • Hattie B’s Hot Chicken

2. Live Music.  Yes it’s true I heard Steve Miller, Bob Seger, and Aerosmith on Broadway before hearing any country music but the truth is there really is a lot of live music in Nashville (sorry Austin) and some of it is pretty good.   On any given night you can hear a cover band (there’s like a million of them) doing Chatahoochie at Crazy Town (below) and a guy singing John Mayer and Jason Isbell at Swingin’ Doors (he was actually really good).  My one regret was not making it to the Ryman, but I was told once to always leave something for next time.

Swingin’ Doors live music Nashville

3. Broadway. Yes it’s turning into “Nash-Vegas” a bit but there’s still history to see and people to watch and honky tonks to visit. You might even hear a 14 year old country singer up on stage for the first time and see her dad filming it on his iphone (we did).  As a drinking game (that I just invented), grab a shot every time you see a bachelorette party, you’ll be flyin’ high in no time.

Cover Bands are usually very talented on Broadway
Cover Bands are usually very talented on Broadway

4. Outdoors. Yep there’s a time to be inside and a time to get out and jump in a river with the locals on a lazy river. Some are clearer some are swifter but the Harpeth is just twenty minutes from town.  Not bad.

Harpeth River State Park

Harpeth Banjos

 

5. Music history.  We drove by the United Record Pressing Co. and everyone in the car (all locals) said “I’ve always wanted to go there,” but like good locals we all sometimes need a kick in the pants or a visitor to get us seeing our own town.  URP presses some 30,000 vinyl slicks on a good day, three eight-hour shifts six days a week.

30,000 Records pressed every day at United Record Pressing Nashville
30,000 Records pressed every day at United Record Pressing Nashville
The "Motown Suite" at URP Nashville
The “Motown Suite” at URP Nashville
Motown Suite at URP
Motown Lounge at United Record Pressing – frozen in 1962

We saw Milky Chance being pressed and trimmed right next to Beverly Hills Cop Soundtrack. Yes on Vinyl. Yes in 2016.

*     *     *

Eating like a local *with* locals in Nashville, TN
Eating like a local *with* locals in Nashville, TN

 

My tour company
Nashville tours anyone?

So – what did I really think about Nashville?

 

Alden Nashville2

Let me get back to you.

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Yes I’m enjoying Nashville.. but am I learning anything?

Music City, USA

Almost one month and 4,000 miles in I find myself parked for a week in Music City, USA a.k.a. Nashville, TN.

*     *     *

A few fun facts:

First live music heard while walking down Broadway: “The Joker,” by Steve Miller

Number of Bachelorette parties spotted in a two hour window downtown: 29

Number of young starlets overheard talking about “making it in LA” and planning her move: 1 (I’ll pray for her)

Second live music song heard while walking down Broadway: “Turn the Page,” by Bob Seger

Number of ridiculously good bbq’s: more than enough

Percentage of locals willing to sweat together for a communal event 92%

*     *     *

That last number may be a bit inflated, but as I’ve now been in more warm climes than cold and it’s not that people don’t mention the heat or the humidity (they do), for the most part I will say it doesn’t seem to stop anyone.  Why does this matter?  Because I’m wondering if too often it does.

I’m thinking of California of course but I suppose it could be anywhere.  “Honey why don’t we go _____ today?”
“Oh, it’s going to be too…”
1. crowded
2. hot
3. cold
4. nowhere to park
5. etc..

Is this you?  I’d like to say it’s not me but I’m sure sometimes it is.  It really doesn’t matter what state you’re in, but rather what *state* you’re in.  When people ask me what I’m looking for in a girl/ wife/ woman, etc.. it usually comes down to someone who’ll say yes more than no.  Of course that statement could be severely misconstrued.   Back to Nashville:

I'm easily influenced by great music
I’m easily influenced by great music
Barista Parlor coffee
Grab a whiskey coffee and honey muffin at Germantown’s Barista Parlor Coffee.. and enjoy the decor
Brisket Sandwich at Jack Cawthon's BBQ Nashville, TN
Brisket Sandwich at Jack Cawthon’s BBQ Nashville, TN

*     *     *

What I am noticing – as I’m supposed to be “learning,” and growing, and whatever other podcast-positivity I was listening to before I left, is that exploring and finding things and meeting people and learning the local history is as much a part of my dna as is coffee and poetry and acoustic music and friends and long highways.  It’s merely a reminder to myself that I’m sharing.

Friends old and new in Nashville, TN
Friends old and new in Nashville, TN

And no I didn’t mean to share this much.

*     *     *

 

Next blog: Nashville’s Top 5

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Road Trip Day 1: Buyer’s remorse

Well that didn’t take long.

Despite getting everything done that’s required to be gone for three months – like putting the mail on hold, stocking up my retail locations, finishing a kiosk for state parks about my father’s efforts in Mendocino (including adding roof shingles and wood stain in between the Warriors’ playoff game), bbqs with friends, catching up and saying farewell to others, as well as preparing a 50-year old car for an epic road trip, everything turned potentially to sh*t before I even got out of California:

My engine was running on just seven cylinders.

WTF??!!!!

*      *      *

Just ONE day before it was running almost better than it ever had, in fact I said to a friend “dude I think it’s running better than it…”  well you get the idea.  But then, out of nowhere, as I was pulling up the big hill on Hwy.  20 out of Nevada City, there it was.  A simple but ridiculous, “hup, hup, hup, hup, hup…”

See the hula girl fall?   That shouldn’t happen if the engine is running smooth.  Ridiculous.

I was pissed.

*     *     *

But what could I do?  I picked my friend in Reno, faked excitement (remember I was pissed!), and we hit the road.

#lifeisahighway
Hwy. 80 towards Utah, in the 66′ convertible with Tony riding shotgun

I told him about the engine and what I thought it might be but he just answered “it’s running fine on the freeway,” and he was right, and we kept going. 

If you’ve ever driven from Reno to Utah you know how long I had to think about all this – too long.  Too many miles to think about all the planning that I did, all the checking double checking, the oil change, the brake work, the tuning up, everything.   Too long to think about my life, my choice of cars, my plans, yep I went through everything on this stretch – things I hadn’t planned to think about until at least New Mexico.

The worst part was that my own words came back to me loud and clear:  Let it go.

*     *     *

When people had begun to ask me about why this particular road trip and why now that was my main answer.  “I need to let things go,” I said confidently, I need to purge the last four years, let go of the burden of my dad’s legacy and my role in carrying it.  Let go of trying to find a normal life.  Let go of – well of lots of things, but mostly intangibles – surely letting go didn’t mean actually letting go – of something like a car?  Did it?

I don’t know.  I still don’t.  But why not?  As the miles passed I realized my trip was still going forward, the car was running after all, we hadn’t lost any time (yet) and it couldn’t be that bad if it still got up to 70 on the freeway – even it took awhile to get there.

What I needed to let go of wasn’t the car, it was control.  Expectations.

*     *     *

When people talk about letting go of expectations my 20 year old self says “dude they’re just giving up,” but now (yes since I’m not 20 anymore) I realize that’s just not true.  After all what are expectations anyway?  Are they based in reality?  Are they perfect to begin with – or even good?  They might be, but they might not.  They might be selfless and good hearted, but they also might be stubborn and selfish.  Or probably for most of us, a mixture of both.

In her best-selling book Generation Me Dr. Jean Twenge talks about this very thing: expectations.  She argues, among many other things, that millennials have unrealistic expectations.  The higher those expectations are, the harder the fall when they’re not achieved, and it can even be dissapointing when they’re not achieved exactly as the expectations were set up.

“But I’ve been through this before – haven’t I?”  I asked myself as I drove and self-analyzed.. passing only-in-Nevada towns like Battle Mountain and Winnemucca.

The answer:  Yes, yes I have.

*     *     *

#lifeisahighway
On the road

Somewhere between Winnemucca and Elko it got really bad.  Not the car, my attitude.  Man that was quick I thought.  Not even gone two days and I can’t even enjoy the ride?  I’ll have to fix the car and who knows what I’ll find.  Maybe I won’t even get anywhere?  What the hell was I even thinking taking a trip in a 50 year old dinosaur- heck what was I even doing owning this thing at all anymore – who was I fooling?

I’m good at being down on myself when I’m the only one talking.

But we kept going.  We didn’t really have a choice, and like Tony said it was running after all, mile after mile, semi truck after semi truck, she was running crappy but running nonetheless.

*     *     *

And then we made it.  We got to Wendover and looked out at the edge of the Bonneville Salt Flats, our first goal.  The motel was basic but it had a pool.  We had a good dinner in the local casino and started the trip on a good note.  The landscape was cool and I realized this was what I wanted when I planned the trip – unexpected adventure.

Bonneville Salt Flats 2016

So what if my car wasn’t running perfectly?  I was doing it.  Tony got picked up at the airport on time.  We’d driven across Nevada safely and the car was carrying us and all our gear just fine.  I had saved and planned for this and we had lots to see.   Let it go I realized.  Let it go.

Tony and Alden on the salt

Postscript ~ The next day in Provo we did a spark plug check – all seemed good but I replaced plug #’s 3 and 4 because I had a feeling and BOOM!  Running great.  *whew*

Overjoyed.

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