Procrastination pushed back departure, but now we are squarely on the road. Two people and a tiny dog. Toward California by way of Asheville, New Orleans, Austin, and wherever else. The plan is to sleep in my car, or in a tent. The goal is to escape the coldest section of winter.
The past three days have been filled with preparation that would have been easier spread over the course of a month. I applied dark tint film on the hatch window and the back side windows of the Festiva. The tint is as dark as commercially available, and of a removable variety. The film attaches by static electricity, and my installation was careful and satisfying. You can't see much through the tinted windows, and it would be very illegal and dangerous to apply it to the front two windows or windshield. I cut another section of tint film to fit the passenger front window, but that piece will only be applied when we're in stealth sleep mode. I used scraps to apply a long strip along the top of the windshield, and toward evening it proved a great boon. Life rules.
We packed our final bags, and finally we began to pack the car. Kristin and I each have a hiking pack with our personal clothes and belongings. Additionally, we have a bicycle pannier with our kitchen and tools. Another small box contains our book buying equipment and electronics - carefully protected by sections cut from USPS Priority Mail bubble envelopes. Our label printer and bluetooth barcode scanners are snug as a bug. Two bicycles hang off the back, working to make the Festiva look even smaller. Heaven.
Ma and Pa Harne saw us off with hugs and a couple 'before' photos in the driveway. The last member of the expedition, Daisy, joined us in her fancy little dog bag, and we were off. Our 12" wheels rolled past the crack separating the driveway from reality. I shifted to second, and in a moment to third, and we were off. The clock is running on our horseabout, and for now I only want to let it run forever. We will be back, but I feel no pressure to make it soon. Each mile south and west is another separating us from the jaws of winter malaise. We are cruising toward a better type of questionmark; into a misty realm I much prefer.
But we weren't in the right direction yet. First, we were to swoop into Philadelphia and emerge with favors. We will be staying with friends in Asheville, two days hence, and with us we will bring dried mushrooms and a bicycle pump. We took time to chat with my friend in Philadelphia. He is renovating a house in deep West Philly and growing mushrooms on the side. I am happy to fill a request and catch up with a buddy. And now we are truly off...
... Miles pass beneath us, but not until we are south of where we live do I let the progress feel earned. The sun was replaced by a giant blood moon, and in the cold night I became a robotic shepherd over the controls.
I don't know how we're going to sleep in this car. At a glance, the smart money would bet against it. Packs and bags and even a box or two... they all seem so much softer and smaller in my pre-trip imagination. There's no good reason we didn't test this a month ago. C'est la vie - it's just not how we be.
At about 10:30pm I could have driven all night, but thought it much more inviting to pull over somewhere for sleep mode. As it turned out, we were only 20 minutes from Kristin's sister's house outside of D.C. - so we went there instead.
"Sorry we're a couple of weirdos," Kristin said; hugging Susie, who as luck would have it did not yet go to sleep. A guest room was waiting before we even asked, and we'll know what happens next tomorrow.