Hello from Portland! I flew to Philadelphia at the end of November to celebrate Thanksgiving with my family (see above pic!) and then drove my Dad's car back across the country via LA. I just got back yesterday afternoon. Here's some of what I learned/experienced.

The trip was predicated on my Mom sharing that they were about to sell the car due to my Dad no longer being able to drive (hint: win points by driving him to the cabin :) That, plus my fantastic Sister, Liz organizing a big Thanksgiving shindig added up to a very quick decision to fly back to Philly to see everyone.

20 years ago I did a similar trip and picked up my Mom's old car that she was trading in. 20 years ago I was a very different Albert :) And the road was different in some significant ways.

Me in Nashville, TN! Monday at 2pm for a weekly performer showcase
I'm going to share with you honestly because I can't think of how else to do it.

This was a hard trip. There were definitely some fun experiences, too, but it stressed me in ways I hadn't anticipated. Here's the story.

I left Philly and of course had Wagon Wheel playing in my head. In fact, every town you pass in this country reminds you of a song - Tucumcari. Santa Fe. Amarillo, Standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona. I could make a pretty good mix-tape of US road songs :) But it's fun to have them be triggered by road signs.

The challenges: on my first night - rain, and lots of it. I left on the Saturday after T-day to try to avoid post-T-day traffic, but also a winter storm that was about to hit the East Coast. I succeeded, but Sat. night did get hit by some intense rain. I pulled into a Motel 6 ($70, btw!) and spent an evening under threadbare covers with a family with kids next door that were loud. I had a lovely video chat with Alex and Stephanie which got me laughing, but after a long night with little sleep I got up the next morning and considered skipping the trip altogether and turning around. I was not a happy camper.

But interestingly, the car turned to the left and off I went to my first visit - Leslie Grauer (a Habonim friend who I hadn't seen in years). She lives in Roanoke and she and her husband welcomed me and fed me a delicious brunch. I got on the road again and drove to Nashville, TN. to visit my Burner friend Kim Lane and her husband Nick.

Scene from first night on the road - Motel 6
I've recently put together a fun 11-part Albert's Life Tips series. If you'd like in, please click here .
Here's where it got really hard and why I will probably never drive across the country again. Who decided that bright LED headlights are an OK thing ? These lights are so bright that night time highway driving is made scary and dangerous. You're driving along enjoying the moonlight and NPR and all of a sudden a truck comes up behind and you and all mirrors are suddenly firework light bright. After that first night I decided to limit my nighttime driving because of this. That night was also full of that fun post-T-Day traffic and lots of construction and by the time I made it to Kim's house I was a shaky mess!

My visit to Nashville was wonderful, though. 2 nights. Hot tub. I got to see a fun daytime music showcase called 3rd and Lindsey which I'm considering copying in Portland :) Kim and I go back about 15 years to early Burning Man days and have lots of friends in common and lots to catch up about.

Best meal of the road trip - Kim's delicious South African chicken dish!
After Nashville I drove through Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas in 2 days and landed with Michelle Diggs in Santa Fe. What I learned during these 2 days:

  1. It's cool to be in places where you can see the curve of the Earth
  2. Northern Texas has a lot of windmills - these are very trippy to watch as you drive along
  3. There is very little organic food or decent food as you drive along the highway

Santa Fe! Michelle and I go back to my early Portland days and it was fun to see her. I spent one day @ Meow Wolf which was the cultural highlight of the trip. It's like a bunch of great Burning Man theme camps all smooshed together in one big building. After that experience I visited the Georgia O'Keefe museum and topped off the day with some lovely ecstatic dance. What really struck me about their ecstatic dance is the sacred music that the DJ played. Our 2 main dances in Portland have really strayed from this type of music and so I am less inclined to participate.

After Santa Fe I drove for 2 days through NM, AZ and southern California to visit Wini and Rik in Porterville, CA. This was easily the most beautiful scenery of the whole trip. The vistas in S. California - Death Valley area - were beautiful for hour after hour. I'd love to adventure in this area again some day and perhaps do some hiking. Now I see what people from LA who travel to the playa each summer experience.

This pic is just the tip of the iceberg - it's so beautiful in the SW!
Wini was busy packing and so I spent some time seeing Porterville, CA with Rik and we had a lovely meal together. 8am the next morning I high-tailed it to Ashland, Oregon. When I saw the signs saying Oregon Welcomes You - I smiled so hard. I spent a lovely day seeing Ashland with Cherie Shine. I got to see a couple friends - Marianne Rudek, Anjalisa, and Marian Spadone - and had a nice visit to Louie's!

Yesterday was my last day on the road. 4.5 hours from Ashland to Portland door-to-door through pouring rain (btw, what fire is burning all around Eugene??). It feels good to be back.

Things I might do differently - have more of a music set up - I was pretty much stuck with FM radio - which meant a lot of NPR - though I also got to hear one of the impeachment hearing days full-on. I could have also brought a cooler with me full of organic food :)

I was surprised how friendly all of the service people were at all the motels; fast food places and service stations. That was nice to experience.

If I'd had someone with me I probably would have visited more sites, but the way it worked out it was a lot of driving inter-spliced with visits to friends which turned out well.

The end. Home.

Wini in her backyard with fresh oranges = OJ!
That's all for this month's 11. The last one for this decade! How about that?

While I was gone our Quiet Clean PDX group which is working on eliminating gas-powered leaf blowers had a big win . The Portland City Council passed a resolution to eliminate the GLBs from all City departments. It's a good step forward.

Tomorrow I plan to attend a hearing on preserving Portland's large trees. If you want to weigh in (you do, you do!) take a moment to comment . Thanks.

In terms of my own personal trajectory: I'm planning to attend Puget Sound Guitar Workshop over NYE and then I start a 2-month sublet in a house near my current one. That means that in March I'll be ... it's a mystery!

Lots of end of the year love to you. Make sure to take extra good care of your health - slow down! Savor your friendships. Savor the air, water, and good things in life. And less night-time highway driving for all!

Here's to the end of this decade. May the next one be more full of light, excitement, good fortune, adventure, love, music, great food, deep connection and all the other good things!


Albert, home safe!