Trip, Life, and Book Update

Planning is what we do before the adventure begins. Once the wheel is on the road or the foot on the path, you have to take it as it comes. In my case, the “taking it as it comes” started long before the plans were even finalized. Originally, I was going to have a six week adventure, possibly even more, but that was cut short when I agreed to do a dance performance at the beginning of June. (I couldn’t pass up a chance to wear my belly dance costume again!) So the six week adventure became four weeks. A terrible cold knocked that four weeks down to three.

Finally, I am well enough (I hope!) to leave tomorrow.

I’ll still be able to see the people I planned to visit, but the extended camping and hiking trips on the way to Seattle have been cancelled. In a way, I don’t mind — I’m still not completely well and I don’t want to take a chance on getting pneumonia, but more than that, when left to my own devices, I tend to just drive, only stopping for the night when I am too exhausted to continue. I really get into the Zen of driving — letting thoughts drift into my mind and then leaving them in the past as I continue to drive into the future.

Although I desperately need a wilderness trek, there is much wilderness within a day’s drive of where I am staying in the desert, including access to the Pacific Crest Trail and various national parks so it’s not as if this was my only chance to tree bathe. And who knows — if I feel well enough after I’ve made turtles (the chocolate/pecan/caramel kind) with my sisters in honor of our mother on Mother’s Day weekend, I could still do a camping trip in the Olympic National Park. (That was one of the camping trips I had to cancel because of my illness.) And perhaps even a short backpacking trip, but that’s up in the air since I’ve spent much of the past three weeks in bed and have little strength.

The one bright spot in all of this is that I finished my decade-old novel!! I hope I didn’t rush the ending to get through, but I had already made all the points I needed to make, and I couldn’t figure out a second-to-last twist, so I mostly summarized their idyllic existence in their near-Eden before I hit them with the big whammy.

I still don’t know what I am going to do with the book. I do not like Amazon, so I don’t want to “publish” it there, I don’t have a publisher for it, and I don’t want to do the horrific work of finding one, so as of right now, I am just sending a PDF to anyone who wants to read it. If you want to read the book, leave a message in a comment, and I will send the PDF to you. It’s not my typical story with a mystery — it’s more of a sometimes humorous, sometimes horrifying apocalyptic novel where God decides to recreate the world. If you do read it, I would appreciate a notation of any typos you might find as well as any sections that drag or speed by too fast.

See you on down the road!

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels UnfinishedMadame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Ten Thousand Miles

On February 6, 2016 — a cool but sunny winter day — I set off on a cross-country trip. I figured the 7,000-mile round trip would take about three months, but because of zig-zagging through different states and going further north than I had planned, I have now been on the road for almost four and a half months, and I have driven over 10,000 miles. I am still 1,300 miles and perhaps two weeks from returning to my starting point, a small city in the high desert of California.

The most shocking revelation to me is that I won’t be returning to cool winter desert temperatures but to intense summer heat. Funny how the mind works — somehow I thought that I would be looping back to the beginning, that no time would have passed. It’s not that I expected nothing to have changed — in fact, I am a bit worried about returning to dance class knowing how far behind I will be — it’s more that this has seemed such a timeless journey. Wherever I have gone, there I was, living in the ever-present moment. But the world has kept turning and the seasons have kept churning without any regard to me and my travels.

It’s an amazing thing, all those hundreds of hours spent driving. Thoughts and emotions drifted tbrough my mind the way the scenery drifted through my body as I drove. (Scenery seems to be out there somewhere, something apart from us, and yet we are a part of it. Vibrations of light impinge on our retinas, allowing us to see. Sound waves reverberate in our ear drums, allowing us to hear. Particles flow through our nose, allowing us to smell. The fabric of the scene — the air — swirls around our body and through it, allowing us to feel our surroundings, to breathe it, to become it.)

It’s all very zen-like, this driving. It became a thing in itself, not just a means of getting to my various destinations, but a separate reality. Just . . . driving. Feeling the passing scenery, watching the passing thoughts.

So what did I think during all those miles? Not much. If you let thoughts drift in, note them at the moment, then leave them in the dust as you continue driving down the road, they obviously don’t remain with you.

I wanted a lot from this journey — wonder, joy, change, wisdom, focus, direction, all of which I have found. Particularly direction. Ever since the death of my life mate, soul mate, constant companion, I have been adrift, looking for a bedrock upon which to build a new life. And in the midst of all the drifting thoughts, it came to me. The three w’s. That’s where to begin.

Before I got a computer and the internet, during a time of great upheaval in my life (the first unacknowledged sense that Jeff was pulling away from life and me, along with a growing numbness to the coming death of “us”), I kept to the discipline of those three w’s — walking, writing, weight lifting. I’d gotten away from these three daily activities for various reasons, though they had been a comforting (but not always comfortable) part of my life.

I’d hope that on this trip I would get back into walking and writing, but both have pretty much dropped by the wayside. I would like to try to get back to those three w’s, though it’s easy to make such a determination when there is little opportunity for any of them. But maybe, this summer . . .

I have come to another realization — there is no need to choose between a settled or a nomadic life. During this trip, I have often stayed in one place for a while, sometimes a week or two, sometimes a few days, and once for three weeks. So finding a place to stay in the high desert for the summer will be just a longer hiatus in my continued journey.

Although 10,000 miles seems like a lot, there is so much I haven’t seen, so much I haven’t done. It would take a year to experience what any one state has to offer, and on this trip I caught mere glimpses of 21 of the states. I didn’t see many of the greatest tourist attractions and passed by probably thousands of little-known attractions. I also didn’t camp or hike much, didn’t get an intimate feel of many wilderness areas. All joys still to come.

Currently I am in Wellington, a small town in southern Kansas, visiting in real life a friend I met on Gather, that fabled but extinct social networking site. Then . . . who knows?

One of the many things I wanted from this journey was to become more spontaneous, and that I have done, following whatever whim and invitation that has come my way, so perhaps I will do as I have planned — scooting the rest of the way back to the desert to settle in for the summer with my 3 w’s.

Or . . . perhaps not.

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(Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.”)

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