David and Bonnie set out anew
to explore a vast America,
this time going bi-coastal
A Newton pig, duckpin bowling where you’d least expect, horses and old friends… these are the ingredients from just the opening days of a road trip in search of the real America. We’ve been here before, on the highways and byways of the nation. But this time will be our first coast-to-coast haul, a month-long journey we expect could cover 8,000 miles of territory and the amazing sights and people along the way.
Our last such adventure four years ago was prompted by a nephew’s wedding in Colorado, and the odd idea of driving instead of flying. This time, it’s a rodeo in Utah, some 2,200 miles from our Maryland home. But why stop there? Utah is practically in the backyard of California. What? Another 700 or 800 miles?
|A winter-equipped mail truck at the Iowa 80 Trucking Museum|
Sunblock. Bug repellent. A couple of books. Tuesday morning’s newspaper. In the house, doublecheck the stove is turned off, toaster unplugged, water shut off, water heater on pilot, windows locked, air conditioning/heat off.
We pull off the driveway at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, May 8, destined for our first important stop two days hence: Visiting old friend and Baltimore Sun newspaper colleague Lynn Anderson Davy, and meeting for the first time her husband Benoit and young children Alice and Gaston in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
It’s a long haul for opening the trip, close to 950 miles, arriving on Wednesday evening. But not too fast. In our 2014 trip, we earned a speed camera ticket along a stretch of Cedar Rapids interstate highway.
We spent the first night on the road in Ohio, at a Courtyard by Marriott, and the next day make a familiar stop soon after crossing the border: The Iowa 80 Trucking Museum, a short distance from an enterprise claiming to be the world's biggest truck stop.
We had been there four years ago, but the museum was closed. This time, we had better luck and spent nearly an hour exploring the free museum built by truck stop founder Bill Moon to house his fascinating collection of vehicles – the oldest on display dating to 1910.
An hour later, we arrived in Cedar Rapids.
A French-American Love Story
|David, with Lynn Anderson Davy in Cedar Rapids|
Lynn and Benoit are a story about the random nature of existence. We all have, or should have, stories about why we exist. For Alice and Gaston, it’s about their mother Lynn’s years in Baltimore, buying a small house in the artsy Hampden neighborhood, renting out a spare bedroom, and having a French tenant who suggested she join him in checking out a meet-up group for people who speak or are learning the French language to socialize. And that’s where she met Benoit, a French engineer living in the Baltimore area working for a French-owned company engaged in manufacturing yeast.
She quit the newspaper, and the couple moved for a few years to France where the children were born—and Lynn earned a second master’s degree, in public relations. They moved back a couple of years ago when Benoit’s company sent him to a plant in Cedar Rapids. And Lynn was hired for a communications job at the University of Iowa in nearby Iowa City.
Lynn and I have kept up with each other since her time in France, thanks to Facebook. I probably waste too much time online, keeping up with the lives of many dozens of newspaper friends who, caught up in the fast decline of print media, have become part of a global diaspora.
Cedar Rapids was close enough to our route westward for a real hug.
Next chapter: Roadside Attractions