Thursday, January 22, 2009

Eight Years Later . . .

Eight years ago – January 2001 – Mistah Schleckah and I started our Grand Adventure. We quit our jobs, rented out our house, bought a 1987 VW “Westy” camper, and hit the road. We left Connecticut on January 11 and arrived in the Florida Keys 5 days later.
And a few days after that, on January 20, 2001, George W. Bush was inaugurated as the 43rd U.S. President.

We were not happy about that development.

That’s the Miami Herald, January 21, 2001, with the headline: “Bush Sworn In”.

We weren’t the only ones feeling despair that day. Ol’ Long Neck, who tormented us constantly for food scraps, he was feeling despondent too.

It was the very, very beginning, the first few days, of what we thought might be a year or so on the road, and turned into, well, into eight. Two terms. Bush’s entire presidency.

Interesting, isn’t it?

But after the inauguration, we tried not to let the fact that a guy we both thought was completely incapable of being President – never mind the means by which he got to office – get us down too much.

We were, after all, in the Keys. At Bahia Honda State Park, our own little slice of heaven.

We had a killer campsite,

we became acquainted with the local Key Deer (which, by the way, it is a federal offense to feed),

and with the iconic Bahia Honda Bridge – this time from the water, in a friend’s fishing boat.

Oh, we went fishing . . .

. . . and caught our first fishies ever.

But it was a nagging, disturbing feeling, those first few weeks, and, increasingly, obviously, in the years since then, that something was wrong. That something was awry. That things were out of whack and out of sorts and fully out of kilter.

We’ve driven 7 or 8 loops around the country and 125,000 miles during Bush’s two terms in office. While the rest of the country was suffering through bad decisions, and declarations of war, and either hubris or stupidity – depending on your point of view – we were traveling through deserts and seashores and mountains, living a pretty great existence, slightly apart from everyone else.

And reading newspapers religiously, of course. And listening to NPR nonstop, and ranting with our friends from Fort Davis, Texas to Moraga, California; from Chicago, Illinois to Asheville, North Carolina.

And now it’s over. Bush’s administration and, weirdly, our travels. At least for now.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Eight years ago, I was in a campground and had no TV – although I wouldn’t have watched a moment of the proceedings, if I had. And now, 8 years later . . . I still don’t have a TV. I do, however, work in a Tavern. And I watched TV on Tuesday, January 20, 2009, from 11 a.m. until 8 p.m. And was riveted. Full of hope and emotion and excitement.

And yes, of course I ignored my customers.
Okay, okay, I realize this is the newspaper from the day after Obama got elected, not the day after he became President. This one we have in the house tonight, though; Wednesday's, which I read cover-to-cover at the Tavern, we don't.
Now, finally, a bookend later, things feel right. Things feel good and true and positive. And hopeful.
Jacquie and Beth have articulated it eloquently the last few days. And I'm right there with them. Hope. Readiness. The Big O.
¡Viva Obama!


Irish Gumbo said...

Road trippy! Lovely post, and I am with you on the feelings of the past 8 years. Except I (sigh) was stuck in an office for most of that.

Next time you go, take me, please?

I stumbled here from Kat's 3 Bedroom Bungalow to Let In Crazytown, after I saw your comment. After what you said about 'Irish Gumbo', well, I couldn't ignore that! Pleased to make your (digital) acquaintance!


NucMEd is Hot said...

Let me start by saying that everytime you mention your 8 year road trip, I get a little jealous, and sadly terribly envious.

I find it, I don't know ironic, that you two started and ended your trip as bookend to the debacle that was the last 8 years. Almost like you two were running away from something and just couldn't quite get away from it.

Glad you finally had a reason to get off the road, even though I know that isn't the real reason.

Nancy said...

I love reading / seeing pics from your road trip. And like NucMed, I have a twang of jealousy. When I was 18 (gawd, years ago) I hitchhiked from MI to Mexico and "bummed " around there for a year. Why did I ever come back here? Now that my kids are grown and gone, I wish I had a mate to take off with.

I tease my sister San that I am going to kidnap her and take off like Thelma and Louise. Well, minus the killing and the cliff diving, lol

Please post more about your road trip, it's always so interesting!

Nancy said...

Oh yea ...

Yes. We. Can.


Me, You, or Ellie said...

Oh Ellie, January has got be hard for you and Mistah this year!!

But I defintely think that it's going to be easier to handle your more sedentary lifestyle with an adult back in the White House.


Unknown said...

If anything can warm your Conneticut winter, it has to be this!!

Anonymous said...

Boy, I would have to liked to be a little disconnected the last 8 years! Actually, I was, finally. I had to give up following the news as much as possible, and I needed ear plugs in the mornings to keep from hearing Rick rant at what he was reading in the headlines.

But we all made it, and things are different now. Thank goodness!

And I love seeing your travels, and experiencing them vicariously.

Me, You, or Ellie said...

You too are so stinkin funny with your "HAPPY!" and "SAD!" expressions. I miss you.


Springer Kneeblood said...

Every time I think about your life on the road, I get crazy with jealousy. Maybe I just stay crazy. Hard to say.

Anonymous said...

Now what would you have thought way back then, if they'd told you that in 2009 they'd be swearing in a Barrack Obama?

Captain Dumbass said...

I used to like your road trip posts, now they just make me sad and realize just how cold I am.

foolery said...

Let me guess: Mistah Schleckah cannot say no to you when you do the sad face, right? How could he?

Happy Week One!

-- Laurie

Lola said...

Cool post, Ellie! My son is eight, which makes it such an incredible disconnect from the greatness that he brought to our lives and the misery that George Bush and his puppeteers brought to our lives.

Things are going to get better!