NEED to GET OUT of Richmond!!

I’m taking a break from my “Literary Travels” to say this: AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! So going to Philadelphia for the summer didn’t end up working out b/c my grandparents decided to move out of their house and into an apartment so everything is in boxes and my grandfather had hip surgery and my parents thought it would be too much if I were there—even though I think I could’ve been a big help. So instead I’m HOME, in Richmond, which is NOT where I want to be. AND I’m a stupid counselor at that stupid camp that I SWORE I wouldn’t work at again. AND my parents are driving me crazy. Maybe most teenagers are used to that, but since I go to boarding school and generally see my parents for AT MOST two weeks at a time, but usually a lot less, spending THE SUMMER home is extremely daunting. And it’s only been a month so far…
The only silver lining of this dark, dark cloud is that my parents are letting me take one of the cars up to Philly to visit my grandparents after their big move, which is in a few weeks, after the first session of camp is over. And I’ll be stopping in Baltimore on the way to visit a friend from school. I’ll probably be gone for 10-12 days total…more if I can convince the authorities…
The only solace I have while I’m still here is Short Pump Town Center Mall, the Library of Virginia, and Kings Dominion. And I guess I have a few friends stuck here too. We all bitch and whine together. What else are friends for?

Portland: maybe I’ll relocate?

Would you believe it? I’m already in Portland…and loving it! So much time as past and all of it has been spectacular.

It’s hard to explain what I experienced at Red Rock Canyon. It was…mystical. There’s just something about the way the sun feels as it burns through my clothing. And I simply cannot explain the effect of the strong sun’s rays inexplicably tearing the clouds apart. But mostly, it’s the colors: the reds and browns against the blue of the sky is breathtaking and magical. I will definitely return to Red Rock Canyon. (And all this is coming from someone who lives just a few hours from Red Rock State Park in Sedona.)

My drive up to Oregon was beautiful and uneventful (just the way I like it). A few days ago I went museum hopping, to the Portland Museum of Art to the Portland Art Museum (both great) and then to the Portland Japanese Garden. Tomorrow I’ll be meeting Robert at his house for coffee and breakfast before his grand tour of Smith Rock State Park, where he promises I’ll be impressed.

Today I’m just hanging around my hotel and the neighborhood. I’ve treated myself to a stay in Avalon Hotel & Spa which is lovely. And I spent all afternoon in Washington Park, where I will certainly return between now and the end of the week.

I love it here. I feel relaxed and independent and happy. Check, check, check—goals reached!
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Rescued by some Moabites

I can’t even count the number of National Parks I’ve been in since I started my journey, the number of nights I’ve unzipped my tent and pulled my sleeping bag out so I could sleep under the starry night, the number of amazing people I’ve met who have taken me in for a night or shared some food or a shower (I mean, let me use their shower…we didn’t actually share…). And it’s on this last point (the people, not the shower) that I want to talk about now.

My most recent stop was at Canyonlands National Park which was beautiful. I hiked around for a few days and was just getting more and more tired by the second. I definitely should have stopped when I started feeling this way and should have headed right back to civilization. But I didn’t because I’m a trooper and I wasn’t going to let tiredness get the best of me. But then I must’ve passed out or something, because I woke up in the back of a pick up truck. There was another guy back there with me (his wife was driving) who told me that I was found outside my tent at the campground, unconscious. The guy suspected that I was dehydrated and they were bringing me to a hospital in Moab for an IV. Which they did, before bringing me to their tiny little home in Moab, right near Arches National Park for the night.

Let me just say: I am not a religious guy. I believe that there are some higher powers (maybe God), and I went to Sunday School when I was kid even though my parents were atheists. I have never thought much about Christianity or about Christian goodness, but these last few days, I have experienced it first hand.

Bob and Risa Berry and their 5 children took me into their home for three days, and it seemed as though this was something they were used to—taking in stragglers who they’ve found half dead in the parks. Two kids cleared out their room and moved in with the other 3 kids during that time and I got a room and access to a kitchen and bookcases filled with books until I recovered, from what was nothing more serious than exhaustion. Every night I had dinner with the Berrys and then the family sang hymns before bedtime that I was invited to as well. I felt like I was in a Christian children’s bible storyland.

I became particularly close with a nine year old boy, Johnny, who showed me all his secret hideouts on their vast woodland property and a treehouse that he and his 2 older brothers had built by themselves.

One day I went with Risa to the Dan O’Laurie Museum which helped me get a better understanding of the Moab region, which is known as a mountain biker’s paradise. So another day I actually went on a beautiful tour of the area with Bob on two of their bikes (does anyone work in Moab??).

And now I feel as strong as an ox. I’m going to do something I don’t usually do: I’m going to rent a car (even though gas will cost me my food for the next week). Apparently there are some scenic drives along the Colorado River that’ll bring me to Colorado. Probably just rent for the day and then get back on my own two feet!

Tim Groome is back!

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Alone on the road: South Dakota to Missouri

It’s been a long time…
Ryan flew back to Boston last week for his training and left me with the car and I drove by myself from Custer State Park to my sister’s house in Missouri, which was about 1000 miles. I did stop for a day in Omaha to visit my friend Tiffany who’s been begging me to come visit for years. And now I’m finally at Juliette’s!

Juliette is my sister and I love her so so so much and I’m so happy to be here! We’re 11 months apart and grew up as best friends, but over the last few years since she’s moved to Salem, I’ve barely seen her. She had a bit of a fight with our parents so doesn’t like to come back east so often…loooong story.

Anyways, she’s an artist and a musician and just keeps picking up new instruments and skills. I got the book smarts and she got the arts smarts (well, she really got both). What can you do?

I’ll be here for a few weeks until I head out to Wyoming for the Rainbow Gathering so have really just been taking it easy. She took me to Montauk State Park which is practically in her back yard and since Mark Twain National Forest is so close, we’ll probably be spending some time there as well.

Juliette just made me blackberry tea and we’re going to go sit out on the porch. laters!
(Ryan I miss you!)
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Alive and Safe and maybe never going whitewater rafting again!

I seriously posted that last post and before I signed off (like a minute later) I already had an email from my mom telling me that I’d better be safe and email or call her when I get back. (Mom, PLEASE don’t sit by the computer all day waiting for me to write…..seriously, aren’t you supposed to be working??)

And so, here is just a very short post for all my dear readers: rest assured, I am safe. New River Gorge National River (didn’t swallow me up as I thought it would). Though I think rafting just may not be my thing.

First of all, the rapids weren’t even so bad (supposedly). I think they were a level 3 or something, which are “wimpy” rapids. We had a simulated “flip over” as soon as we got in the boat, and even that left me screaming and splashing around for dear life—mind you, we were in 2 foot deep water.

But MAN, I have never seen such peer pressure. The other people in the boat FORCED me to stay on the boat, saying that I’d be ok and that we “probably” wouldn’t flip over anyways. And they were right, kinda. No one flipped over…but me…three times! But, as goddess is my witness (that’s for you mom, I know how much you love that), I would not allow that frothy, glistening water to win our raging battle. And so each time I fought, and each time I came out on top, stronger than the last time.

By the time we got to the last rapid, people were actually laughing so hard and not focusing on the rapids at all, that our whole raft capsized throwing us all into the calm of a patch of river that was just near a truck that was waiting to load us up and take us home.

Ryan says I’m a good sport. Or sportess—he’s making fun of me.

It should not go unmentioned, however, that my brush with death was nearly worth it due to the breathtaking scenery that surrounded us. A little before and little after, we hiked through the area and I really took the most amazing pictures of cascading waterfalls flowing off of sandstone cliffs.

And then I remember that this is why I needed to get out of the city. To try new things and to experience the divinity of nature. And that is what I found here—that is what I keep finding.

Even this house that we’re staying at. They have acres of land and children and animals who all seem so happy and at peace with their surroundings. They open their home to travelers and allow them to taste from sweetness of their lives. This is family. This is something great.
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