Vinton to Defiance
We wake to a rainy morning, a good time to get some work done before heading out on the road again. Liesl is happy to snuggle on her heating pad after her busy day as a social media star.
Low clouds skud over the prairie, with intermittent rain. Because I unexpectedly got some driving done yesterday, I decide to make a side trip to Ames, IA. Almost a decade ago, I applied to their MFA program for “Creative Writing and the Environment”. I made it as far as being waitlisted, but did not get a spot. I have sometimes thought about applying again, and figure I may as well go see what Ames is like, since it’s only an hour out of my way.
I was glad I did. I’m sure it’s a fine school and a nice community, but as soon as I began driving past campus, I felt a certainty in my gut: I don’t want to spend my time in classrooms and on a college campus again. It seems like high lunacy suddenly. What a strange thing, to have to drive thousands of miles to answer questions like this for myself.
Nearest Fitzlabs City: Cedar Rapids, IA. Cedar Rapids's climate in 2080 will feel most like today's climate near Ponca City, Oklahoma. The typical summer in Ponca City, Oklahoma is 9.3°F (5.2°C) warmer and 18% drier than summer in Cedar Rapids.
There’s no need to spend more time in Ames. And I know our trip will be smooth sailing from here. Instead of figuring out campsites or hotel rooms, I get to stay with my friends, Tom and Eunice, in Vinton, IA, and with family after that.
I met Tom and Eunice at Maker Faire in San Mateo a few years ago...they’d made the journey out, with their grandson, to learn more about bubbling from one of my own bubbling mentors. The three of us hit it off immediately, and something I kept noticing was that Tom showed up every day in a new pyrotechnic cap. I started asking about that...how does a person join a pyrotechnic club or learn about the world of fireworks? It seemed to impossible to me. Gradually, and with much encouragement and affection, Tom and Eunice drew me into the that world—and we’ve been friends ever since.
This part of my trip is more visit-with-friends than adventure, so there’s not a lot to tell. I enjoyed sitting at the dinner table on Sunday with their family, visiting the bottle calves at their son’s farm, and just catching up. Liesl enjoyed being completely spoiled with too many pup-a-ronis and other treats.
Monday morning, I head out early, and cross the rest of Iowa, all of Illinois, and into Indiana. I owe Illinois something for a toll, and I’ve tried to make good on it, but...it’s kind of vague as to whether or not that’s done. I hate those kind of open loops.
Fort Wayne, IN
A Fitzlabs City: For high emissions, Fort Wayne's climate in 2080 will feel most like today's climate near Vincennes, Indiana. The typical summer in Vincennes, Indiana is 5.2°F (2.9°C) warmer and 1.4% wetter than summer in Fort Wayne.
Another easy night, because Liesl and I arrive at my Uncle Walt’s house for a “Grandma Josie dinner”. My cousin also joined for good food and good conversation.
I enjoyed the many birds in his neighborhood...red Cardinals, yellow American Goldfinches, Eastern Bluebirds, and even a House Finch taking up residence in the wreathe outside his door. (Last year, a duck nested in his front shrubs.)
Liesl is delighted to have more people fawn over her. And for breakfast treats in the morning, too.
Nearest Fitzlabs City: Toledo, OH. For high emissions, Toledo's climate in 2080 will feel most like today's climate near Kennett, Missouri. The typical summer in Kennett, Missouri is 7.4°F (4.1°C) warmer and 0.7% wetter than summer in Toledo.
From Fort Wayne, it’s only an hour drive to my sister’s house in Defiance, OH. Liesl sniffs around the front yard and looks at me as if with a question. When we get to the door, she starts wiggling. She remembers this place. She is overjoyed to see my nieces, my sister, and my mom again. Even her dog-cousin, Thara.
We’ll be here for about a month. I don’t imagine there will be much to write about from here. In June, I’ll travel again—overseas to Zurich and then Ghana—and that’s probably when you’ll see the next installment here. And then there will be the longer trip home.
Thoughts at the end of the road
I’m so grateful to have been able to make this trip, relatively easily, and in the company of the world’s greatest rat-weiner.
I thought a lot about people who live in their cars, especially with pets, or people who live in tents unwillingly. Money solves a lot. I spent more nights in hotel rooms than I intended to, but I am grateful to be able to do than and don’t regret any of them.
I thought a lot about how to know what’s right for me and my life. How the little house in Magdalena felt so joyous, how the college campus in Ames was so clearly not the right place for me. I noticed how much I enjoyed waking up in the morning and instead of my heart sinking that the day would be like any other, I was curious and eager to find out what would happen. Would being nomadic in some way be the right way for me to live my life for a while?
I have more questions than answers. And I don’t have any answers to the questions I started out with. But I’m grateful to have gotten off the map and onto the territory—and look forward to more questions as they come.
I’ll take some answers if I can get them, too.
Thank you for reading!