I think, at this point, it’s undeniable: summer is almost over. My schedule will pick up in another week or so, and then all of a sudden – I’m sure – we’ll be suddenly in November, or December, or bidding farewell to the entire year rather than just this season. I’m daunted just thinking about it.
This summer, though, has been incredible. I’ve covered something like 17,500 miles, many in a Honda Fit with my husband and our dogs, and the remainder by plane to Norway and Texas (just to make things a bit more interesting). Because I do not yet have distance from the trip itself, I know that I’ll come to realize that there are experiences I’ll remember that right now don’t necessarily stand out as much as others.
But off the top of my head, here are some of my favorite memories from a summer full of good things:
1. Our first day of the drive, we started with breakfast at our favorite spot at home, and then worked our way across California and into Nevada. The pups settled in, somewhat, and the thrill of being on the road as it stretched out before us tapped into something that I think is inherently part of an American heart.
2. At the end of that first day, we wound up chasing a rainbow for miles and miles and miles. It shifted itself around our car as we headed east, dancing at times in front of us and moving to the car’s side as we curved around roads. I sat in the passenger seat, riveted by the magic.
3. As our drive continued, we watched the country go by and I found places I wanted to remember. A beautiful rest stop, fantastic donuts, and a detour for a moment of reflection all gave us more of this land to call our own.
4. I loved the spots, throughout the country – on both journeys across – that stood out because of their character. Wallpaper in Nevada, a grocery store in Ohio, a mural in Baltimore, bathroom tile in a rest stop somewhere: what a reminder of how boring it is to be just like everything else.
5. Norway was lovely, accessible, and incredibly restful, despite a trip to the ER because of an eye that swelled shut. Even the doctors were easy. Bergen, in particular, stood out as a place I’d visit again, as did the mountains, fjords, and waterfalls of this country that was more beautiful than I knew to expect. Someday, I hope, you’ll find me camping there, and visiting my newfound favorite statue once more.
6. I’ll fondly hold onto the memory of a couple of days in New York with my brother and sister-in-law, which was everything I’d hoped for with two of my favorite people. I never get enough time with them, or with my sister and brother-in-law; luckily, we had a night to ourselves in Baltimore with the latter.
I still dream of a siblings’ trip, will continue to until it happens, and will start again as soon as it does.
7. No pictures for this one, but there was a whole lot of sweetness and light wrapped up in a single-night side trip to Philadelphia, and another to San Antonio, to visit people I love, and to root them on in their courageous adventures. They are people I learn from, who instruct me often – through their actions – on how I want to live my life.
8. The puppies were incredible travelers, flexible and accommodating and delighted every time we got in the car. Except for a minor hotel-room mishap at one stop, they were absolutely perfect. Our trip this summer was made better in every single way for having them with us. With their charm and sweetness, I’m also pretty sure they may have bumped a few folks closer to adopting dogs of their own.
9. Galveston, a city I’ve visited every year since my birth, is one of the places that feels like an eternal home to me. I recognize some of its problems as a city and am curious about others I suspect. I don’t intend to live there, but it will always have a place in my heart, to the degree that when I leave, I immediately start thinking of when to return.
10. My family, my friends, my peeps: I could not have had a better time with so many people that I love. For those I didn’t see, who are reading this blog, know that it didn’t feel complete without you (and I’ll make it to you soon; New Hampshire, for instance, is calling my name before too long). And the feeling of longing for those in California, off on their own summertime adventures, was unexpectedly sweet.
11. And, of course, my love, who traveled (most of) these many miles with me. We didn’t argue, and we navigated one another’s moments of short patience with pretty consistent kindness. We listened to podcasts (who knew we liked true crime?) and discussed the pain in our country, and found funny places to stop, and – I think – grew closer together than we’ve been in a while. I’m so grateful for him, and so grateful for these weeks together.
There is more to say; in a trip of this many miles, of this many days, I know I can’t capture it all in a single post.
But I do know that I will remember it, for its adventure, reflection, hard work, joy, mystery, love, family, friends, and ice cream, all mixed into one. It was expensive, lengthy, and at times tiring, yet it was unabashedly, boldly, beautifully worth it.
Just as, I believe, summer should always be.