‘Y’know, you really oughta keep a journal’

Daily Dipstick Watch: He’s doing fine. Great, actually. He’ll be ready to roll with us tomorrow morning.

Yesterday we did chores, ran errands, reprovisioned for the final week or so of travel and washed the mud off Mercy. For our main meal we returned to The Back 40 Taproom, a block down the street from The World’s Only Corn Palace, for fried pickles, artisan pizza and beer.

Technically this is a pre-launch day, with all of its attendant tasks. Since I handled that business only 170 miles ago, I’ll check the important stuff today and call it good.

Tomorrow’s drive will be a slightly shorter-than-average hop to South Dakota’s southeasternmost extreme. We’ll spend a couple of days off the road there before our final three travel days (separated by a pair of layover days).

I intend to do more thorough maintenance before we leave the next stop. Right now we’re enjoying a spectacular Autumn day, and I’m making good use of it by chillin’ with a beer in my camp chair.

Sound lazy? That’s the point. The last two months have taxed us, body and soul. We’ve thrown ourselves into this, giving it everything we’ve got.

No regrets.

When at last we come to rest in Arkansas and shut down the big diesel for a while, we’ll claim our peace prize. Then we’ll see what comes next.

I kept a personal journal in high school; if memory serves, I began journaling between my junior and senior years. I scribbled words and pasted images into bound books. I jotted and sketched and doodled for no one’s eyes but mine.

The practice continued, off and on, through the years. Then came social media. I had a blog, a different one, for a time. Last October I created Ubi Libertas Blog.

Whenever I hear someone say, after hearing about what Deb and I are up to, “Y’know, you really oughta keep a journal,” I can’t help but chuckle. Since the First of May I’ve posted here more than 150 times, almost every single day.

Beyond the words chronicling our adventures, I’ve shared over a thousand images. That’s not very many, considering that over the course of five months I’ve shot 7,000 photos, give or take, and Deb more than that.

This is our journal.

The old adage instructs, “Either write things worth reading, or do things worth the writing.” We’re giving both our best shot.

No, we can’t capture everything on this blog or on the social-media page we created for our journey. There are scenes we don’t photograph, challenges we overcome but don’t talk about, encounters with fascinating people we don’t record and precious moments that only the two of us will ever share.

For those things and countless others, our imperfect memories will have to do. For the rest, this is our journal.

This morning I looked back at some of the photos I’ve snapped during our push toward The Ozarks. One in particular caught my attention — it was from the day we left Glacier, at a turnout on US Route 2 near Essex, Montana.

It’s a cool shot, I think, capturing both the perspective in Ernie’s road-side mirror and a view of the road ahead. I posted it here that day, but it wasn’t until today that I saw that I’d also caught a westbound BNSF freight chugging up the grade toward us on the old Great Northern Railway.

Sometimes we photograph trains on purpose. Here’s a dashcam image taken a few days later as we rolled south on Montana Route 3, halfway between Broadview and Comanche on our way to a two-night stay in Billings.

Railways created The American West as we know it. Without them, this nation couldn’t have prospered. The roads that Deb and I travel wouldn’t exist.

We recognize the reality as well as the romance. The rails built America.

Next time you hear that lonesome whistle or see a train, remember.

Take care of yourselves, Patriots. Stay calm. Stay sharp. Stay free.

#WiseUp #LibertyOrDeath