Showing posts with label West Virginia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label West Virginia. Show all posts

24 March, 2014

Return Of The Big Blue Burrito

The Big Blue Burrito
Truthfully, I'd rather travel when someone else is driving. While being behind the wheel does provide some opportunities to get off the regular roads -- which we did as we took our time down rolling down U.S. Route 17 from Culpeper to Norfolk and learning along the way that sometimes gas station oysters really DO make sense -- I like to avoid the added worry of mechanical issues. Then there's the fact that ability to navigate only seems to work when I'm ON FOOT. (Seriously. Put me in a strange place on foot and I will find my way around in no time. Put me behind the wheel armed with a map ... or even a nominally functional gps... and I will still find a way to get lost. Count on it.)

 But: while this 1,345 mile round trip from River City to Norfolk (pronounced nor'fuk. And yes, I still count it as the most unfriendly town in the country.) was not my first trek out Interstate 64 and up and down Sandstone Mountain, West Virginia, it was the first major flight of The Big Blue Burrito. For an old truck, she did amazingly well, even on the westbound return over Sandstone Mountain. The westbound incline up the mountain is so steep I can only conclude that the Army Corp of Engineers intended to make driving through By Gawd West Virginia as unpleasant and automobile murdering as possible.

I've been criss-crossing West Virginia via Sandstone Mountain and I-64 off and on for as long as The Kid has lived in Norfolk -- since about 2001. She was in 1st grade when her mother dragged her there after an unsuccessful attempt to make it as a Navy wife in the backwater of LaCombe, Louisiana when Sgt. Tailhook was stationed out of the Naval Station at Norfolk. In the previous year, the Kid attended Kindergarten in 4 different schools that I can remember -- one, being in Jefferson Parish (LaCombe) where she had lice more than she had recess and where they taught an entire section on shoe tying. (I taught her in a short afternoon. The Kid has always been ahead of the curve.)

The reason I have, over the years, traveled the I-64 east-west corridor is that when her mother decided to haul her up to the North Atlantic coast, I decided not to follow. I moved from Lexington, Kentucky to New Orleans in order to stay close to The Kid. I did not and do not regret that decision. I have, over the years, deliberated and rejected the notion of moving there myself. Some ignorant folk might interpret this as a lack of interest in my daughter. And while there are moments of her life I have missed -- which is one of a short list of regrets -- I have always fought to stay in her life in spite of the geography. In spite of being derided, derailed, talked down, and insulted. In spite of my own feelings of inadequacy as a parent. In spite of one attempt on the part of her mother to try and talk me into signing my parental rights away to Sgt. Tailhook. (I told her mother in no uncertain terms that The Kid's last name is Parsons and would be until she changed it herself... and even then, I assured her mother,  I would always be The Kid's Dad.)

And here I am, back on the edge of the dirty, sacred river, getting ready to teach, getting back to all the little projects and obligations I have here. The Big Blue Burrito made it back over the mountains, with a stop off at Willow Creek to visit old friends and another in Losantiville to visit my Dear Sweet Ma and to pick up a new to us bed and frame. Here I am, looking home improvements, looking at starting up the garden, and yes, looking at a jaunt west into some square states in The Big Empty.

Life is good here and I am living it.

17 March, 2014

Culpeper Tells, Winter Talks Back

The Traveller's Angel and I jaunted east of the dirty, sacred river, barrelling up I-64, through the deep Appalachian darkeness of  the West Virginia Turnpike at night. We left River City Friday afternoon on a warm and sunny afternoon in order to make for the second day of Culpeper Tells!, a brand new storytelling festival in Culppeper, Virginia.

Culpeper is a pretty litttle town that has, over the past gfew years, built itself back up from devestation. The town has survived four earthquakes in the last year. The Big One, though, happened in August 2011. The town of Culpeper  built itself back from a 5.8 magnitiude earthquake. 

We had the opportunity to see some tellsers we've seen before, and to hear a few we haven't. Naturally we signed up for the story slam. But time ran out before the Kentucky contingnent could storm the stage.

We left Culpeper Sunday morning and rolled down VA 17 towards Norfolk to visit The Kid. And, as is almost always the case when I travel, winrter was at my back. The storm warnings blew up behind us, ad we hit the coast a good couple of hours before yet one more last hurrah of winter rolled through dropping ice, snow, and sleet in a wide swath from Loiusville to the coast. 

The North Atlantic coast may not seem the most romantic of destinations in March. Even without the interminably long winter  weather, it's still chilly, windy, and rainy.  But it's been a while since I've seen The Kid's smiley, shiny face. It's also been a while since I've seen Will, the boyfriend -- who is a nice guy, in spite of the fact that no one will ever be good enough to date my daughter.

We're staying at a Super 8 -- the same one I managed to stay in when I was here in January 2012. That trip was a very different one. I was here then to deliver bad news, among other things. I was convvinced that I was on my way to disappearing, convinced that, with the dissolution of my marriage that I most certainly would disappear, because I had convinced myself that no one weould see me the way my ex had seen me. 

I didn't know that I was on the road to put myself back together. I didn't even know I was broken. 

Amanda travels well. She's smart, pays attention to her surroundings, and drinks up new experiences. She wants to see everything she can,learn everything she can, experience all that she can. Although we've known one another for nearly 20 years, I like to think it has taken that long for me to get back to her. That it's too me 20 yeasrs to see myself in a proper enough light that I could allow her to see me. Some processes take longer than others.

And now I am here, with her, visiting The Kid -- who isn't really a kid, I guess -- and even though the North Atlantic winter is lingering outside, I am basking in the wearmth of a deeper, lovelier and more permanent light. The light where all the stories and poems and songs come from, where road unrolls under our feet and there is blue sky ahead.