I sit here at a public library in St. Louis, a place I had no intention of visiting but where the road has taken me.
About a month prior I began to replace parts I was instructed were essential for such a trip. Using my handy online shopping skills I bought parts online and had a local mechanic install them, saving me money for the road. As the last mechanical job on my vehicle was completed, I was confident that my vehicle was now prepared for this adventure.
After an emotional goodbye with family, I set off. My first stop was towards Washington D.C, the nations capital. I've always wanted to visit the Holocaust museum located in D.C stemming from a powerful book I read as a teenager.
Heading out on a Sunday evening I drove a couple of hours from Rhode Island and finally stopped in New Jersey, it was there where I got my first taste of what was ahead. After a couple of hours driving I began to get tired and knew rest was in order. This trip was one formulated with ideas involving frugality and adventure, I wanted to challenge myself and do without some common luxuries, this involved no hotels, not fancy dining, just being up for the challenges of the road, and the hospitality of others. This night at the rest area in New Jersey would be my first opportunity to test my sleeping arrangements on the road out. I stopped right outside of the NJ turnpike and parked in a rest area parking lot. I wasn't to paranoid about my surroundings, I was just more so tired.
I had intended to sleep for three hours, I ended up sleeping almost six. When I awoke I was relieved that I was still in one piece, and happy to put the first obstacle of the road behind me. That morning I headed towards D.C without much worry. I would be visiting an old friend and catching up on ten years of life that has passed since we last crossed paths. I arrived in the city promptly.
Meeting my first challenge.
As I arrived in the hot city and stopped to input some directions in my GPS, my car began to overheat! Here I was in a city I didn't have a clue about, faced with a situation I dread, in weather that makes the whole matter worse. As bad as it may sound I didn't want to panic, I actually did the opposite I relaxed. See from my own experiences in life, panicking brings nothing but more frustration. All I knew is that I had a friend close by, and time on my side.
Being a Sunday in the busy city didn't help. No mechanics were working and I found myself without vehicle coolant. After hours walking about the city looking for coolant, I was able to get back to my car and refill it with some much needed liquids. My friend was constantly in contact with me, very much accommodating and offering any help that could be given my way.
As I started up the engine I began to watch the little temperature needle with ninja type focus, would it go up? would it stay put? I didn't have a choice at this point, my friend lives about 30 minutes away in Annapolis and I needed to get there. It was now or never, and so I made the decision -- we were off! I was sweating, zipping by street lights, avoiding getting stuck in traffic. Each street light left behind knocked off just a little bit of time from my destination. I finally got out of the city and onto the highway, I was getting closer.
About 20 minutes later I found myself in Annapolis, MD where my friend and his family reside, I was presented with the first true gift of this trip, hospitality.
For the next three days I was fed, given a place to rest, and indulged in great conversation and fun times.
This first challenge of the road was unexpected, but what it brought to this journey was far greater then any mechanical problems that could hinder it.
I encountered true human connection and hospitality.
and for that I will always be grateful that things turned out the way they did.