The journey of a thousand miles begins with a large cash advance.

Okay, it's not exactly the way Lao-tzu said it, but each of us selects his own single step, and that was mine. And anyway, it's not just a thousand miles; this summer's World Tour, while it's hardly world-spanning, will be somewhere in the vicinity of four thousand miles, about one lap of the eastern United States. (Why the east? Because I've spent the past twenty years west of the Mississippi.) Never in my life have I undertaken something this huge, unless you want to count getting married. (Then again, that lasted a little longer than three weeks, for which I probably should claim no credit.)

A lot of planning goes into a trip this long, and I'm doing my best to make sure I do as little of it as possible. Only half a dozen or so points on the curve are predefined by one commitment or another; everything in between is optional. And that's probably a Good Thing, since once beyond Ol' Man River, I'm venturing into territories that either are wholly forgotten or were never known at all, and therefore maintaining maximum flexibility is a must.

Besides testing me severely, the World Tour is also a test for Sandy, my newish but mostly untried automobile, who in the next three weeks will be expected to roll up more mileage than in the thirty-three weeks since she was acquired. Of course, being a Mazda, she's looking forward to the trip; of course, being a person, I probably should not anthropomorphize nonliving things. (They hate that.)

The World Tour will pass through fifteen states maybe sixteen if I get lost and wind up in Delaware and will cost, I hope, something less than the amount I had saved up plus the amount of the advance I took. It will end, barring catastrophe, somewhere around the 26th of July. And when it's all over, I will probably be too worn out to do anything much besides sleep. Then again, as Lao-tzu reminds us, to be worn out is to be renewed.

The Vent

8 July 2001

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 Copyright © 2001 by Charles G. Hill