After approximately 6864 miles of driving which started on September 28 and ended yesterday, it was good to see the beautiful cloud formations over Linda Mar Bay, it was like a welcoming salute to a very weary traveler. I had seen many things, learned not to trust Google directions completely, and knew the limits of my endurance. 600 miles here, 300 miles there depending on what I decided to pull over and see, walk around and absorb on a daily basis. I felt the long stretch between Denver and D.C. the most with no music no radio, just my own thoughts and an ever watchful eye out for state troopers in various states along the route. I had my routine which included waking early, taking my coffee outside finding a quiet place and turning my thoughts toward God for about 45 minutes. It usually got me going for the rest of the day. Somedays I stopped and sought out the people (or person) who I would interview. The set-ups took time, but the conversations were well worth it. You drove here? Why didn’t you fly? Were the opening questions thrown at me. I drove back and forth across the U.S.A. for two reasons (1) I had lighting, sound and camera to schlep and the thought of paying for luggage was and still is ridiculous as well as the micro seating for long flights which was very unappealing; and (2) I had never been to some of the states I visited. How much of the countryside or small towns and “Interstate Business Loops” can you see from the air? I would urge any and all who want to see the U.S. to do it by car. I had never driven in D.C. and Manhattan or Denver or any of the other big and small cities. I had a job to do and in-between stops I had a lot of quiet time to think. My cell phone company is Virgin Mobile and for most of the outlying areas between cities, I had no service which on the face of it can be a good thing. Although it did cross my mind as I passed cars and trucks that had broken down, I would have been screwed if the same thing happened to me while passing through the middle of nowhere.
Even though I was on my own schedule this was a working endeavor and not a vacation. I missed seeing family and friends along the way. For this I apologize. Time was of the essence and every once in a while serendipitous people I wasn’t meaning to interview presented themselves. That ate away at my free time in a good way, but shortened my abilities to “drop by” and visit. I will certainly make the time the next time I travel your way. I saw marvelous things and met wonderful people at rest stops and in local coffee shops along the way, striking up conversations and hearing stories. This trip has given me ideas for the “next” documentary. There are good people in this country, down to earth practical people. There were farmers and truckers and young families and retirees and laborers whose one thing in common with a person from the west coast was their humanity. There is very little that separates us as Americans, but sometimes that thing that does separate us is blown way out of proportion and becomes the antagonistic wedge that divides us. I heard this over and over again in the motels I stayed at whose channel listings included Fox and excluded MSNBC. When someone hears the same lies over and over again one begins to believe them. But I do know there are sane people who know this propaganda is bogus and seek the truth through other venues. There is hope in the hinterland. Do not despair loyal lefties and progressives. You don’t have to wrap yourself in the flag to be patriotic for all is not lost. We own this country. It is ours to share.
I am grateful to the kind souls who took me in on this journey, Jason who allowed me to stay with him in Denver and introduced me to his friends in the area (wonderful lasagna AnneMarie) his colleagues at his school and for allowing me to stay with his folks on the “Farm” in Sidney Nebraska, to the Jesuits at Gonzaga College High School in D.C. and the extraordinary community at Red Cloud Indian Mission School, by far the most inspirational place I visited. I also want to thank Tom, a former colleague at my former school and now my “boss” on this video trek for showing me around the Pine Ridge Reservation and for his wicked sense of humor. Who knows where the next exploration will take place? On Monday as I begin editing the 33 hours of footage into three half hour films, I will again visit with the people who were so generous with their time and talents with me. I will again remember the good visits and places and that fire of appreciation that I have for this great land of ours will be remembered. I look forward for this film to emerge as the story begins to talk to me. To all those I forgot to mention, thanks. Keep the faith alive and continue to presume good will. and……GO GIANTS!!
and so it goes…