By Tom Ehrich
SAN MATEO, CA (February 9, 2015) -- Yesterday I picked up a rental car beside San Francisco Bay for my 30-day, 4,000-mile drive east to the Hudson River Valley of New York.
Fresh Day on Road will begin tomorrow morning. It is a pilgrimage in search of fresh words, fresh ideas and fresh faith. I will drive alone, planning each day as it comes, seeing what there is to see, and trusting God to show me what I need to see.
I have basic supplies in hand, including three journals for writing poetry along the way, my MacBook Air and iPad for writing blogs and essays, posting and researching, and an iPhone for staying connected with family.
I plan to use paper maps, rather than digital maps. But that could change. Every plan I am making now could change. That's part of the freedom I seek: the freedom to chart a course and then change that course.
At a Barnes & Noble on upper Broadway I came across a clever European-style road atlas published by Michelin. It presents the journey in small chunks, which is exactly how I want to proceed. No grand plan to get to, say, Oklahoma City by a certain date. Rather a general awareness that Oklahoma lies east of here, and I might pass through it, or I might not. A right turn in New Mexico could take me through Texas.
Talk about a metaphor for life! The turns we make change everything that lies ahead. In theory, we could backtrack from a mistaken turn, but we don't. We press on. Or we indulge in the delusion that we can stop moving. Either way, the turn we made 100 miles back has brought about a journey quite different from the course we would stayed on if we hadn't turned, and barely recognizable compared to where a left turn might have taken us.
My general aim is to drive 150 miles a day, or about three to four hours at a dawdling pace on two-lane roads. Write in the morning in whatever motel I can find, drive in the afternoon, then stop for more writing, a walk around town, scouting out a diner, and reflecting on the day.
Every detail of that vague plan could change. I could reach a town and be so mesmerized by it that I want to spend a few days exploring it. I could have trouble finding motels in small towns and find myself bouncing over to the four-lane highway for lodgings.
In other words, who knows? Nice feeling.