I dropped Foster at the airport in San Antonio, returned my day pack to the passenger seat so it wouldn’t look so empty and headed in as straight a line as Eisenhower could order, back to Atlanta. From San Antonio to Atlanta is about 16 hours via I-10, to I-65, to I-85. One thing about the great civil defense interstate highway system, it can move volumes of people and goods a long way quickly. What it can’t do is give you any sense of connection to anything other than concrete.
So, I set the Spotify to the old familiar songs, grip the wheel at 10 and 2, and use the time to replay my recent journey and think about the next one. I need to decide if I should try to make the journey along the edge a continuous one – meaning go back to Terlingua and pick up where I left off – or just a complete one – meaning make sure that when all the segments are done they make a lap. I hadn’t thought about it until Foster asked me one day in Big Bend; I think I just assumed it would be in whatever random segments my interest led me to, but now I can see there is a rhythm to the edge and it may be helpful and more interesting to do it in a continuous lap. I follow the map in my mind as I drive and get lost around San Diego. I will have to spend some time on this.
Around Beaumont, TX the rain starts. It stays with me almost continually for the rest of the trip to Atlanta. Arriving at my driveway after something like 8 hours of continuous rain – some of it ridiculously hard – my old FJ Cruiser is washed clean of the edge. Its old driver is not.
It is bittersweet this returning. I am desperate for my wife – two weeks is really a long time for me to be away from this remarkable woman I have built my entire life with – and at the same time I am hungry for the next adventure. I think this is how it should be. I think this means I am doing the right thing. If it ever gets easy to come home or easy to leave, then something is wrong. So I am home. My dog Geraldine is momentarily elated, then back to sleep. The Spring is in full bloom in Atlanta which means cherry, dogwood, magnolia – the list goes on, as does the pollen rafting up in the puddles along the street. It is a pretty, comfortable place. It is home.
My plan will be to plan. I need to organize these blog posts, along with those from previous National Park visits, add some information and structure and context, and try to get a longer form narrative out of it all so that one day the grandkids or someone will be able to read it through start to finish. I need to think about the next piece of the edge and how and when I am going to travel it. I need to re-connect with the people, processes, and activities that define my life here, well away from the edge, while I think about going back.