Monday, April 14, 2008

Like a band of gypsies we go down the highway . . .

We is Jake and I.

We were just driving down the Interstate in Phoenix listening to the satellite radio. A duet version of Willie Nelson’s classic On the Road Again was playing.

More than usual, the lyrics hit home for me—because I am essentially off the road again. Giving up the traveling life is fine and I know I too will be on the road again for extended periods, sometime.

While I was feeling wistful listening to the song, I am in fact very happy to be settling in somewhere for the foreseeable future.

On the road again
Like a band of gypsies we go down the highway
We're the best of friends
Insisting that the world be turnin' our way
And our way
Is on the road again
Just can't wait to get on the road again
The life I love is makin' music with my friends
And I can't wait to get on the road again

Great sentiments and a great song. Great to be off the road too!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

What is America to me?

This morning while walking Jake in north Phoenix the words of the Sinatra song were running through my head:

What is America to me?
A name, a map, or a flag I see?
A certain word
What is America to me?

How to answer that?

This past year, and over the course of my life, I've been privileged to see more of this country than most people ever will. Also, for two years of my life I did almost nothing but study American history. So what have I learned about this most powerful nation state?

Too much to cram in to a blog entry, but here are some thoughts nevertheless.

Last night I was standing around with some friends at a small party in Phoenix. The group included the kind of people who go out of their way to contribute to society. They represented America to me. Nearly everyone there was gay, but that fact is minor to who these people are and how they represent this country. One was a candidate for the U.S. Congress. He may not make it into that lowly esteemed body this election cycle but he's the kind of guy who should and will represent his congressional district if he keeps at it. Smart, savvy, committed to a better America. Those are the kind we need in Washington.

This past year I've met all types of people. Different communities dominated my year, but the breadth of my travels and the generosity of friends and family provided glimpses into hundreds of aspects of our culture as I traveled about. Dominant communities included: the rock and gem world, the Airstream world, the interstate highway world, the world of my childhood in Ohio, and of course the eccentric and diverse characters that came to Quartzsite (don't miss my Portraits of Quartzsite series in this space from January and February of 2008).

America is not just rich in wealth, its richest in heart. We screw up for sure. We screw up on individual levels, at the level of community, and on the national level. The mistakes we've made in our so called war on terror are epic in my book, but that's another topic. The freedom and stability that our society gives its citizens is unparalleled in world history and the manifestations of those things in the lives of our people is a thing to behold.

So what is America to me? A name, a map, a flag, an athlete, a veteran, a volunteer, a teacher, a firefighter, a pilot, a lieutenant colonel, his wife, an astronaut, a congresswoman, a philanthropist, a homeless man, a family, a dog, a horsewoman, a horse, an aluminum trailer (and all those other brands of RVs), a voter, an opinion, a set of facts, a blog, a vast and wondrous landscape, a child, an elder, a city, a desert, a mountain, and two oceans--with so much in between.

That is America to me.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Snagged by Phoenix

When I hit the road last April I looked forward to the adventure of living in my Airstream and trying to make it with my new business. I had no idea what I was in for. I also didn't know where or when I would stop. I figured I would when the time was right.

What a year it's been--epic beyond my imaginings. Business has been good. I've actually supported myself for a year. That's no small feat, especially given the fact that I had no money to launch this little venture, just credit and grit.

En route to Sedona sixteen days ago I got an unexpected phone call. I'd applied for a job six years ago. I was offered a chance to come in and discuss the job. I went in two days later and accepted a new position. It's in Phoenix. More on the job later--I'll just state now that I am very excited and honored to get this opportunity.

Of all the places I've been this past year, Phoenix is the last place I would have imagined as the one that would get me.

I am writing from Quartzsite, where I am for the night after driving over 700 miles today. In the past two weeks I've done an out and back route. I left Phoenix, stopped in Quartzsite, headed to Salt Lake, then Boise, then Salt Lake, and now I am back in Quartzsite. Including driving in Boise and Salt Lake City, I added over 2,500 miles to my truck. That's almost 10% of the total mileage I've driven the Dodge! Included in that mileage is the final leg back to Phoenix tomorrow.

Even Jake's tired from that amount of travel. It's been a busy two weeks that included liquidating parts of my inventory. Utahredrock will continue in the future, most likely as a part-time business. The business is on hold for the short term starting tomorrow.

I plan to continue to live in my Airstream for the foreseeable future. Where in Phoenix I do so remains to be seen. After a year on the road, I am ready to park for a while. Even with summer quickly approaching the Valley of the Sun, the idea of being in one place is appealing--though I may look to land-based housing to better escape the heat.