Firmly back in the land of reality now, after nearly two months off the road and back into the normality of our old routine. It’s easy to let the memories of our amazing trip fade back into he recesses of our minds but the truth is that 8000 miles through the heart of the USA does have a way of changing a person! Both E and I have returned invigorated and in my case slightly more hirsute – but grateful for the opportunities that lie in front of us both. It’s time to change things up.
One of the things that’s been great about coming back to London was the feeling we had when we realised that we’d arrived at the airport a day late for our flight. Ahem. Of course, it was my fault and of course, things didn’t seem especially rosy at the time – but with hindsight anything becomes clearer, and I reckon that the fact that we were so upset and so ready to get on that plane is that we’d kinda subconsciously realised that actually, this town gives us all of the things we need to enjoy living. Well, apart from sunshine for most of the year but- hey – you can’t have it all. Not to get all mushy here, but after two months of living in a nylon house on a rubber bed you do put things back into perspective. Never have four walls seemed so attractive.
The trip itself, and our retelling of it to people over here has helped solidify it into our own personal mythology – and like we’ve always said – it’s just epic. Not one bit of it stands out as the moment but instead there are lots of little joined up experiences that will stay linked by time spent together driving through the most incredible landscapes, listening to road music and stopping off at unforeseen and memorable places. For me, some highlights, in no particular order:
The day we spent in Detroit with Greg of Brother Nature at his urban farm. A serendipitous meeting after an eye-opening drive through the wreckage of modern-day Detroit, we were privileged to get to see the work that he’s been doing near the centre of the city, and to get stories first-hand of people growing and selling their own food. As the trip wore on, we heard similar tales from people driven to grow as a means of survival.
This is what we thought, in August.
Meeting Rat, the proprietor of the original blues hotel, in Clarksdale Mississippi – a man who grew up amongst the great blues musicians of the last century, and who is now a happy raconteur of those times. And we had a large night wandering around the juke joints and bars listening to some amazing and stripped back, super-powerful music.
Spending time in Athens, Georgia and having some of the best food of our trip with the Four Coursemen, at their ‘secret’ supperclub. After quite a lot of time spent in camp sites, invariably with folks a little older than us, it was so much fun to hang with the people we met in Athens. And then get up and go find farm grits at a farm brunch just outside the town. Under the watchful (if slightly bored) gaze of Luke The Mule.
Not really a single moment, but our campfire suppers were sometimes sublime. We got quite addicted to the simple pleasure of barbecued asparagus with chilli, and mushrooms stuffed with various yummy things. But when we really made the effort, there were many tasty moments – with fish, on the East Coast’s Huntingdon Beach, with pork n’ beans in Virginia, hours before our paranoid midnight getaway, and with trout in Carencro, Louisiana.
Our time in New Orleans: I’ve wanted to visit ever since reading about the place in my teens, and it was exactly as I’d pictured. Rainy, steamy and full of beautiful decaying buildings. Unlike anywhere else on our trip. And we were able to participate in the 5 year anniversary of Katrina – hugely humbling and eye-opening.
And there were many, many more. Now back to thinking about the next FFT outing. It’ll be a while before we’re able to dedicate so much time to exploration again – but if you’re reading this and you like what you’ve seen, I’d urge you to do all you can to get some time on the road. One of the best things I’ve ever done.