Mono Lake, eastern Sierras. Taken from U.S. 395, north of Lee Vining CA.

I have tried to run away, only to learn that there is no escape. It took some life experience to learn that you will always be outrun by whatever is chasing you, even if the pursuer is none other than your own shadow. (See Proverbs 28:1). It’s true that you can’t run away from yourself.

In my lifetime, I have thrice made the run from sea to shining sea. I couldn’t have done it without the support of my family, and I sometimes wonder where I’d be today without their help.

First time: I was living paycheck to paycheck and, had I not suddenly decamped from Connecticut to the Bay Area, would have eventually run out of money, if not from an automotive crisis, then certainly when my employer closed up shop. That is, unless the abusive relationship I was in killed me first.

Second time: It’s true what they say about not being able to go home again. My eight months in California were disastrous, leaving me to choose between moving in with my parents or homelessness. I saw running away as a viable third option, but high-tailing it back to New England got me nowhere fast. I couldn’t land a stable job in Hartford, went broke and moved in with family in Boston. My first day there, my car disappeared from in front of the laundromat where I was washing clothes. Turned out the cops hauled it away because I couldn’t afford to update my registration and insurance. Back to California I go.

Third time: I was fortunate to have parents who took me in, as I had run out of emotional capital with everyone else. I figured it was better than homelessness. After four and a half months of emotional misery, much of it brought on by myself, a stroke of good fortune led me to a stable paycheck that was just enough to secure a rented apartment six months later.

Twenty years have gone by since then. I have visited the east coast twice without incident. While the sight of New England continues to engender incipient longings, I have come to the understanding that California is my home, now and forever. I was one of those hardheaded dumbells who had to learn the hard way that running away gets you nowhere.

That isn’t to minimize the setbacks that I have experienced here in the Golden State. It took me decades to learn the life lesson that resolve, perseverance, and plain old staying the course can get you far.

Come October, I’ll probably still gawk at the online photos of the amazing Crayola leaf show, coming to you live from Vermont and New Hampshire.

And then I’ll log off, step out into the California sunshine, and laugh.


Cape Cod in My Dreams

The 2016 Great American Escape

I leaf through a Triple-A Tour Book and I feel like a kid in a candy store.  So many places to go, so many things to see, so little time.

Today it’s the Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island edition, nearly every page of which brings me back to my days of residing in New England, now several decades in the past.  And then, as I peruse the maps, the hotel and restaurant listings, the descriptions of state parks and historical sites, I am taken back even farther, to the days of my childhood.

The AAA travel series were called Tour Guides back then.  My parents weren’t AAA members, but my grandparents were.  Until they moved away from Connecticut to retire to Florida, they passed their castoffs on to me when they obtained the latest editions.  I cherished the Northeast volume with the cherry red cover (New York and New England) and the Mid-Atlantic States volume with the teal cover (New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland and D.C., with special New York City section).  I devoured the details of New England towns and cities incessantly until I wore the cover off the book.  I read selections aloud to my father, wondering whether we could visit these places someday.  I even copied down in longhand some of the descriptions from the Tour Guides onto pristine white sheets of typing paper purloined from my mother’s cabinet.  I was an eight year old geography buff who took pride in being able to draw state maps from memory, either in my special notebook (carefully colored, so as not to smudge the town names, courtesy of my box of 64 Crayolas) or on an Etch-A-Sketch.

Eventually, I resided in each of the three states covered in the Tour Book before me.  It’s difficult for me to believe that, just a few weeks hence, I will again set foot in these places that I so loved in the days of my youth.  I know they won’t be the same as they were back in the day, but I plan to drink up the experience nevertheless. This trip has been a quarter of a century in the making and I know very well that that it will never be repeated.

For now, the New England leg of our tour includes stops in several of my favorite locales:  Misquamicut Beach in Rhode Island, Boston, the Maine coast and Springfield, Massachusetts.  En route, we hope to drive through some of the New Hampshire countryside and hit up the boutiques in Brattleboro, Vermont.

But as I flip through the Tour Book, I find one glaring omission staring me in the face.

What about Cape Cod?

There are a number of storied New England locations that I have yet to visit.  Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket, and yes, Cape Cod.  Wouldn’t it be amazing to drive Route 6 all the way up the peninsula to the sandy roads of Provincetown?

Oh, yes.  This we must do.  But how to squeeze it in between Rhode Island and Boston?  I don’t think it can reasonably be done.  If we are to truly soak in the funky shops, campy nightclubs and rainbow flags of P’Town, we need to devote at least an entire day to the experience.  It’s just not something that can be squeezed in on the way to Boston.  Perhaps the whole idea of visiting Cape Cod is unreasonable.  After all, the rocky coast of Maine beckons, and it’s a long, long drive back to California.

And yet . . .

I may never have another chance to do this again.  If I miss the Cape this time around, I know I will always regret what might have been.  Of course, we have to pick and choose.  We just can’t go everywhere.  And we’re already spending a ton of money to sleep in hotels for 27 nights.

I feel Cape Cod slipping away and I grab, clutch and claw in an attempt to hold onto it.  Clearly, there’s just one thing to do.

Wave the magic credit card and turn 27 nights into 28.

Provincetown or bust, baby.



Daily Prompt: New England Dreamin’

apples pumpkins'

Yesterday, the WordPress Daily Prompt encouraged bloggers to describe the strangest place they have ever found themselves posting to their blogs.

As a creature of habit, I prefer writing my blog posts from the comfort of the living room sofa, laptop dangling precariously off the TV tray on which it is balanced.  However, due to our travels up and down the state of California, I have composed numerous posts from our laptops in motel rooms.

What I find particularly challenging is writing blog posts on my iPhone.  I have done so on several occasions, late at night at Motel 6 in Buttonwillow, Kern County.  Now, Motel 6 generally (but not always) charges for wi-fi, so we typically skip the laptop and make due with our phones.  My fat fingers dance across the tiny keyboard display, stopping every third or fourth word to correct an error.  The backspace key is my best friend.  Even so, when I get back to a computer I usually notice more than one typo that makes me want to scream.  And I won’t dwell on the times I have mysteriously lost an iPhone post in progress, nor will I refer to some of the words that have come out of my mouth on such occasions.

Far more interesting than the mundane locales from which I have blogged are the places from which I would like to blog someday.  I am not engaging in fantasies about exotic destinations here.  In fact, I am reminiscing about places that I enjoyed on the other side of the country in the days before the Internet.

It’s October, and inevitably my thoughts return to the riotous red and yellow leaves that set the trees afire in New England and upstate New York.  I am just learning to use Twitter, and if I did not have time for a complete blog post, I imagine I would tweet something like this:


It is apple season, and right now I am munching on a Gala, one of California’s finest.  And while I enjoy the wonderful Fujis, Pink Ladies and Galas out here, it’s not the same as picking out a bushel of Macintosh, Delicious, Cortland or Rome Beauty apples from Dressel Farms on Route 208 in New Paltz, New York.  If I were there, I’d blog about the giant pumpkins out front, the Indian corn grown on site and, if the cider press is operating, the season’s first sweet taste of liquid heaven.  After I got home, I’d be sure to mention the wonderful scent throughout the house when Mom was stirring a pot of applesauce on the stove and had a pie in the oven.


I’d ooh and aah at the bucks, does and fawns that walk out of the thickets and stand wide-eyed along the grassy edges of the Palisades Interstate Parkway.  Then I’d blog my outrage when every other car heading south from Bear Mountain Circle has a dead deer tied to its roof.


Along with everyone else, I’d gripe about the leaf-peeping tourists slowing down traffic with their gawking.  Of course I’d forget to mention all the money that they are pumping into the local economy and how many businesses couldn’t survive without them.


I’d definitely blog from Old Sturbridge Village in Massachusetts, describing the candle dippers, the blacksmiths, the printers and the butter-churning maids.  My post would probably make fun of the 18th century costumes and the little kids running amok with ice cream sticky hands.  And I’d be sure to post a photo of the cows and turkeys.


I would do my best to blog from the Emily Dickinson House in Amherst, Fitzwilly’s restaurant in Northampton, the covered bridge over the Ashuelot River in Swanzey, New Hampshire and the shops in downtown Brattleboro, Vermont.  And just for old time’s sake, I’d have to finish up my time travels by writing a funny post about a round of Glowgolf at Holyoke Mall.



Follow me on Twitter:  @unclearon