"A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man." - Joseph Campbell
Joseph Campbell talks a lot about The Quest - the journey all Heroes take in search of a Boon that will heal their troubled Land. It doesn't matter if it's Percival seeking the Holy Grail or Harold and Kumar trekking to White Castle - Heroes go on the same Journey, requiring sacrifice, trials and tribulations, transformation, and, ultimately, a return to the place where their journey began. What I think is so beautiful about Campbell's work is his description of the elegance of the Quest structure - its rules, its patterns, and the necessary transactions along the way - and his insistence that we are all on our own Hero's Journeys. Although I've always been familiar with Campbell's work (having spent a few years screenwriting), his book, "The Power of Myth" became a light in the darkness of my cancer recovery, convincing me that there was a purpose to what was, for me, the ultimate transformative experience. You must look in to the abyss, Campbell says, because that is where you will not only find yourself, but your Boon - your gift of service to the world. It is no wonder, then, that I thought of him when I packed up my Ford Escape Hybrid, put the key in the ignition, and hit the open road in search of adventure and purpose.
Rather than regale you with rote-by-rote descriptions of the places I've been and the people I've seen, I'm going to use these Road Trip Update blogs to share a little of Campbell's work, and my favorite moments along the way (it helps that I can limit my typing to short windows as well). If you follow my Facebook Page, or my PlaceSnap SnapMap, you can see additional photos and status updates of where I am and where I've been, but in these Updates, you'll find the things that I'll remember most, and maybe a shout out or two.
Ready? Here we go!
Leg 1: California to Illinois, by way of Utah & Colorado
1. Stepping over a rattlesnake in Rick and Misty's garage and thinking, "That's weird; why would Misty have a toy snake in her garage?" only to have her turn on the lights, the snake rattle its tail, and all of us jump back as I realize it WASN'T a toy snake.
2. Delicious grilled lamb at Nas' house across the street, accompanied by other rattlesnake tales (who knew they were so common in Antioch?) and stories of Fiji.
3. Watching Rommel and Janice's 6 kids get excited over "The Amazing Race," and being there when they colored in all their houses on my Travel Curtains.
4. Talking with Rommel about God and how He's factored in both of our lives all these years.
5. Driving through the Sierras with hardly anyone on the road, passing sparkling rivers where I wished I'd stopped to take a picture.
6. Talking with Danny about road trips, cancer, and "the golden spike" while driving through Battle Mountain, NV.
7. Seeing the salt flats just outside of Salt Lake City, UT, and then, the Great Salt Lake, in all its glory.
8. Pasta I could not stop eating at dinner with Chelsea, and laughing over our "crack house" metaphor.
9. Kalynne's daughter, Reagan, inventing a kind of slo-mo horseshoe game with my foot and her bag of plastic bracelets.
10. A fellow diner at Little America stopping me and James to thank us for mentioning Jeremiah 29:11 in our breakfast conversation, because it was "just what [he] needed to hear."
11. Buying fresh peaches and apples from a roadside stand near Johnson's Corner, that were way tastier that JC's "famous" cinnamon rolls.
12. My Auntie Leigh's cooking! Moussaka, scrambled eggs, and the smell in her kitchen - like childhood, and camping, and Christmas.
13. The feeling of family, and how important it is to have, no matter where you are.
14. My Uncle Roger getting misty remembering my father, and laughing while he told me about a bar brawl they once got into over my Aunt in their twenties.
15. Recognizing Bear's skinny legs and hunched shoulders, even in the dark pre-dawn hours near Horsetooth Reservoir.
16. Donna and I talking about everything from the moment we met, like we've known each other for years! :)
17. The downhill on the way back from the Boulder Creek Trail.
18. The view from the top of Mt. Sanitas, and Barry saying, "I'm really starting to sweat...." LOL, Bear.
19. Being half-asleep talking to Ian about zombies and life lists and how to have fun with no money.
20. Hanging with Katie after not seeing each other for so many years.
21. Beaumont posing on the cement snail in Downtown Boulder - so cute you could eat him up!
22. Dinner at Rootdown in LoDo. Fan. Tas. Tic.
23. Being greeted by Brad at the FD office with the words, "Holy hair!"
24. Lunch with Rebekah, and feeling like Christian isn't a dirty word, because you share a childlike faith.
25. The loooooooong drive to Madison, WI broken up by a Runza (yeeecchhhh) and a nap somewhere in Iowa.
26. Forgetting what state Milwaukee was in, just outside of Watt's Tea House.
27. That friggin' frozen custard crack sundae they make at Leon's (and, apparently everywhere in the Midwest?!)
28. The Milwaukee Art Museum, and our tour guide, who said, "I think you can't truly understand something unless you know where it's coming from." So true.
29. Overcoming parking, roadblocks, crowds, overzealous police officers, and the sheer number of fellow runners to see Caroline Bridges, still going strong, at the 25th mile of the Chicago Marathon!
30. Canadian Thanksgiving at her parents' house (who knew rutabaga could be so tasty?), followed by mocking the 49ers in the basement with her college Wolf Pack.
31. The Grand Tour of Clarendon Hills, and a grilled brisket (with TWO kinds of cheese!) sandwich in La Grange with my (now) favorite Midwest Foodie. Anytime, Fridge. :)
BUT, I have to be honest. The most memorable moments of the last 30 days happened when I flew BACK to California, to follow-up on the thickening I found in my healthy breast just before I left for this road trip. I'll call it #32: Meeting my new surgeon, and hearing that I won't be needing his services after all, thanks to a clear MRI. :)
I look forward to our next update, hopefully post-NYC Marathon (November 7th).*