This morning, Johnny taking me to the airport was bittersweet. My final ride in Dusty was a bumpy fiasco. I was loaded into the sidecar with my luggage, bouncing down the streets of New Orleans, which are unkempt and riddled with potholes (I hit my head on the roof, twice). I gave Johnny a kiss goodbye and Dusty a sideways glance. I can’t decide if I love him or hate him (Dusty, that is). Either way, I am ready for a change. My helmet is packed up in a box heading home, while I board a airplane set for Kansas City.
My grandparents live in Topeka, KS, and there is a 2006 Toyota Corolla they are willing to give me in order to finish the trip. I was supposed to pick up the car afterwards, but plans changed when Dusty’s transmission begin to let go. I am grateful for the generosity of my grandparents and the opportunity to continue the trip in a car that has a taste for adventure (the Corolla has already logged plenty cross country miles with my cousin, Maggie).
My first couple days in Kansas have been an adjustment. My body is tired, and I am grateful to have a familiar place to lay my head. I played with vintage clothes in the basement, walked around the local zoo, and gathered car camping essentials: cooking propane and shade shield for the front window.
The zoo is a good place for a walk, but it broke my heart to see some of the animals alone, and in smelly indoor enclosures.
Tomorrow, we will be going Wamego: the small town where my mother grew up. I hope to visit my uncle and cousins who live there. Our main purpose is to see the cemetery where my sister’s headstone will be placed.
This visit has brought back memories from childhood of the summers I spent here with my twin sister Natalie. She is close to my heart now more than ever. I designed stickers from her artwork that I plan to give out. The beautiful spark of her spirit continues to glow, and I hope the small reminder of a sticker might brighten the day for people who miss her.
Currently I am gathering my energy for the next portion of the trip. I plan to visit my aunt Katie in Wichita, then continue on south. Johnny and I are talking about meeting up in San Antonio and driving caravan-style to Big Bend National Park which borders Mexico’s south west side. I do miss the support of my companion, and I’m writing my second ever blog post primarily to update and impress him <wink>. Also, I am looking forward to being on my own for a spell. I feel a need to reconnect with myself after spending 80 + days deeply enmeshed with Johnny. The protection of a reliable car, combined with unexplored territory on the horizon excites me. So the journey continues: surprises are guaranteed.