9,000 Mile Journey

This travel blog details the 9,300 mile road trip I took with my daughter Lauren after losing Diane, my wife and best friend for fifty years.

Lauren and I wanted to honor her memory by scattering her ashes in a place with deep meaning for me: Mirror Lake, in the John Muir Wilderness of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California, where I met her and we fell in love.

 

  • The journey May 11, 2018 - We conceived this trip as a twofold purpose: One, to take Diane’s ashes back to the place where she and I met more than 50 years ago, to complete a sacred circle. Two, to undertake a journey of discovery, a pilgimage, prefatory to beginning new lives in the future in which we have been thrust… Continue reading The journey
  • Mount Whitney May 11, 2018 -
  • Snowpack in the Sierras May 13, 2018 - Some good news for us, not necessarily for Californians. The snowpack in the Mount Whitney area is less than 15% of average. That means the trail should be clear of snow as far as we want to go.
  • Mt. Whitney Trail May 20, 2018 - Here’s a map of our hike. The trail starts at Whitney Portal, top right, at 8,200 feet elevation. We go to Mirror Lake, 4 miles and 2,400 feet higher (highlighted).
  • Primal Scream May 20, 2018 - We leave in nine days. I have some anxiety setting in. I have been running from my emotions since my mothers death. My time is almost entirely spent preoccupied. I’ve realized I will be forced to sit quietly with thoughts and feelings I have shoved down quite deeply. I anticipate a moment at the grand… Continue reading Primal Scream
  • Ashes May 20, 2018 - These are the traveling carriers for Jennifer and Diane’s ashes.
  • Getting Ready May 20, 2018 - Almost finished with the basic preparations. Tomorrow I will take the camper to the Dodge dealer, and have them check the brakes and a rattle that I don’t like to hear. Today I finished replacing the battery inside the coach; it powers the interior lights, pump, and so forth. After this, just a matter of… Continue reading Getting Ready
  • How we started May 25, 2018 - We planned to travel by highway, driving the self-contained camper I bought in 2012 to travel with Diane. Our Roadtrek camper is a 19-foot conversion van. It contains two narrow beds eighteen inches apart, on opposite sides at the back. It has a generator, small refrigerator, propane stove, microwave, hot and cold running water, a… Continue reading How we started
  • On the Road May 29, 2018 - Sunshine and relaxation. Driver, more music!  
  • Us May 29, 2018 -   Rolling along
  • JESUS Live on Stage May 29, 2018 - Passed a billboard on PA Turnpike West: JESUS Live on Stage Some show that must be.
  • No TV May 29, 2018 - Drive over for the day, after a brisk walk around the edge of the service area, it’s reading time. This is why we don’t need a satellite TV antenna.
  • Sunsets May 30, 2018 - I think it was my mom who reminded us all that we should never miss a sunset because we’d never know which was our last. My sister reminded us when my mom’s memory faded. For the last few years of my sister’s life, our extended family would send texts for sunset alerts. — by Lauren
  • Iowa sunrise May 31, 2018 - Sunup in Iowa. Previous campers noted that this place was surrounded by a soybean field. The bean field is planted in corn this year.
  • Sutherland, Nebraska June 1, 2018 - Lived here with my grandparents at an early age, and spent a summer at 18. My grandparents’ grave in Grant, Nebraska The Truitt house, 2018.
  • Colorado June 1, 2018 - Another milestone Boulder street scene
  • Song of Ascents June 1, 2018 - A Song of Ascents. I will lift up mine eyes unto the mountains: From whence shall my help come?
  • Lauren June 1, 2018 - Back on the road towards Sutherland Nebraska then on towards Boulder Colorado!
  • Jacob June 1, 2018 - So that just happened. Dad and I left the interstate for US 30, the nation’s first coast to coast highway, which his grandfather helped to build. I saw a cool rusted train stop, so hurriedly pulled over under an overpass. As I walked back toward my desired shot, I noticed a giant swirl, a cacophony… Continue reading Jacob
  • Charlie June 2, 2018 - Van is fixed! Heading for Estes, then RM National Park to camp. Yay!!! Thank you Charlie K. for your help and your company, and for introducing us to your amazing GF. Please tell Erin thank you for her hospitality and the cbd topical oil!!! — Lauren
  • Rocky Mountain NP June 2, 2018 - The Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park goes above timberline for miles, up to 12,183 feet above sea level, through 8-foot deep snow banks and wide open expanses of arctic tundra, surrounded by snow capped peaks at the same elevation. Mind-blowing. To see that in the High Sierras, you have to walk many… Continue reading Rocky Mountain NP
  • Desert Morning June 4, 2018 - Always walk as far away from the campground as possible. Here is today’s sunrise and some tracking photos. — Lauren  
  • To the Desert June 4, 2018 - What a contrast between yesterday and today. Rocky Mountain National Park to Arches National Park in 2 days.
  • Utah Desert June 4, 2018 - We made it. Goosenecks State Park. Take a gander.
  • Goosenecks State Park June 4, 2018 - Total and utter silence. No cars, no birds, no wind, one plane in all the time we’ve been here. Here in the high desert, our generator had issues. We are watching the last light, eating a cold dinner, toasting with dark and stormies and really listening to nothing.
  • The Desert Rocks Us June 5, 2018 - So we are in the middle of a completely wireless desert in the middle of a Navajo reservation, no towns, no gas stations, and a truck passes and kicks off a huge rock which smashes through our windshield directly in my dad’s face, shattering glass over us both and all the way into the back… Continue reading The Desert Rocks Us
  • Channeling Gump June 5, 2018 - Just goofing around in Monument Valley.
  • Flagstaff June 6, 2018 - We got the windshield fixed, had the BEST Indian lunch ever, went to the Goodwill in flagstaff (yes, really), and finally met my friend Ruth in person for great coffee and even better conversation! Thank you Ruth for your offer of hospitality and the stimulating chat. — Lauren
  • Heidi June 7, 2018 - Heidi wants to ride shotgun down the canyon.
  • Grand Canyon NP June 7, 2018 - Our official greeter at the entrance to Grand Canyon NP
  • Helios June 8, 2018 - Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project is covered with more than 10,000 mirrors, each the size of a small house, that track the sun throughout the day and focus it on a receiver filled with molten salt. The salt, heated to almost 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit, stores the energy as heat, so it’s always ready when it’s… Continue reading Helios
  • Roadkill Cafe June 9, 2018 - I passed this place in the middle of the night with Diane in 1999. Who could forget the name? This time we stopped.
  • Primal Scream II June 9, 2018 - Lauren utters a Primal Scream to an indifferent Grand Canyon.
  • Whitney Sighting June 11, 2018 - Mount Whitney and the high Sierras, viewed on our way north to Convict Lake campground.  
  • Staging for Whitney June 12, 2018 - The day after we arrived at Convict Lake, we spent time at the Wild Willys Hot Springs south of Mammoth Lakes. By the campfire at Convict Lake. Today at the city park in Bishop, CA waiting to drop dogs at sitter.
  • Regeneration June 13, 2018 - One by one, many of the moving parts of our journey have fallen off by the wayside, like furniture and bedding lashed to the back of a 1923 Ford pickup driving west from the Dust Bowl, left by the side of the highway in our urgent quest for a goal with no known reward except… Continue reading Regeneration
  • On the Trail June 14, 2018 - We made it! The ranger in Lone Pine exchanged our one-day pass for a two-night permit, and we are on the trail to Mirror Lake. Mile and a half Lone Pine Lake Along the trail Outpost Camp  
  • Mirror Lake June 14, 2018 - We arrived at about five o’clock. As the sun sank toward the peak of Mount Whitney to our west, we carried out our ceremony of scattering Diane and Jennifer’s ashes at the place where I met Diane in 1967.   In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the… Continue reading Mirror Lake
  • Silver Lake June 15, 2018 - Tired but hopeful, we have arrived at Silver Lake campground near June Lake, California. A beautiful place. Heidi and Plato have gotten closer together on this trip.
  • Southern California June 17, 2018 - It’s been very comforting to me to reconnect with family and to meet and get to know my Cousin Kim Giuffrida’s beautiful, intelligent, poised and vivacious daughters. Having breakfast with them this morning was a delight, and reminds me that I still have living family. Back in LA. Yesterday was a looooong day. I have… Continue reading Southern California
  • Northern California June 22, 2018 - Dad and I are having a blast. Northern California is the land of the beautiful people. Finally, I fit right in. Northern California Gallery Fifty years later, we stop at Trees of Mystery on highway 101 north, and Lauren  re-enacts Jennifer’s pose from 1968. Here’s how Jenny looked in that spot in 1968.
  • Redwoods June 28, 2018 - Standing close to a giant redwood tree in Hendy Grove, I reached out to place my hand against the bark, trying to feel directly the continuity of life from ancient time into the future, as if to diminish my loss by joining the flow of life through that behemoth. Humboldt State Park redwood grove. Look… Continue reading Redwoods
  • Homeland June 29, 2018 - Breathes there a man with soul so dead, Who never to himself hath said, “This is my own, my native land?” My grandfather’s house in Vancouver, where I stayed one summer at eight years old.
  • Portlandia July 1, 2018 - We had a great visit with my niece Cheryl and her husband Doug in their Portland craftsman bungalow. Lauren wrote “Portland exceeded all my expectations. It was SUCH a delight to spend time with my cousin and her husband who have cut out a deeply pleasant existence In this great city. Had a hot soak… Continue reading Portlandia
  • Columbia July 1, 2018 - We left Portland to drive east along the Columbia River to my aunt’s home in Kennewick, Washington. We stopped at a rest area to watch windsurfers in the constant gale on the broad river. The wind was so strong Lauren could lean into it. This was the best view we saw of Mount Hood. The… Continue reading Columbia
  • Leaving the Coast July 2, 2018 - Eventually we left the Columbia Gorge, driving across flat, dry terrain in the rain shadow of the Cascade Range, to my aunt’s home in Kennewick. She lives in a small, immaculate house on a golf course, and golfs regularly. She welcomed us into her home for an overnight stay, and filled us in on stories… Continue reading Leaving the Coast
  • Across the Divide July 3, 2018 - We pushed east along Interstate 90, enduring stretches of construction where the highway narrowed to one lane and the drivers behind us did not appreciate the pace I set. We took a cutoff toward Helena, Montana along U. S. Highway 12 and crossed the Continental Divide at McDonald Pass. There was no sign marking it,… Continue reading Across the Divide
  • Wyoming July 4, 2018 - From Beartooth Pass to Cody, we passed some beautiful scenery. After we left Cody, we traveled through an arid plain between the Absaroka Range and the Bighorn Mountains. Our lunch stop On the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway, looking toward Yellowstone The Bighorn Mountains We climbed a steep grade from 6,000 feet up to the plateau… Continue reading Wyoming
  • Damned Transmission! July 6, 2018 - We spent a cool and restful night in the Bighorn Mountains, then descended the eastern slope towards Sheridan, Wyoming, where we restocked our food and propane, and more important, bought Western straw hats, de rigeur for summer in these parts. Our destination was Devil’s Tower National Monument, not for any particular reason except that Jennifer… Continue reading Damned Transmission!
  • Pine Ridge July 7, 2018 - I took few photos during our stay at Pine Ridge. I mostly spent the time observing and listening, because I did not want to impose my preconceptions on the experience in a way that would have interfered with understanding what I saw and heard. The act of composing a photograph requires forming an idea of… Continue reading Pine Ridge
  • Dash to Home July 8, 2018 - Once we cleared Pine Ridge, we wanted to go home by the shortest route. A planned route through Minnesota and Wisconsin to see old friends was scrapped. We did not want another breakdown on the road. We took a quick side trip into Mitchell, South Dakota to pick up some cash at a credit union… Continue reading Dash to Home