Monday, December 1, 2008

Our Lucky Stars

One of the more amazing aspects of our trip has been that everything has gone almost exactly as planned. We wanted to reach Billings on Thursday and we reached Billings on Thursday. We predicted our Atmore, AL to Memphis via Oklahoma trip to take 21 and a half hours and it took 21 and a half hours. On paper our trip looked exactly as it did on the paper itinerary.  It was and is a complete guide to how to take 48 engaging walks in an equal number of states in 9 plus days. And yet I'd be writing this from Colorado right now (as opposed to Cambridge) if it weren't for a remarkable stroke of luck. Yesterday, our last day of the trip, brought us both our first major snowstorm and traffic jam. The snowstorm hit right at dusk in a high Rocky Mountain pass, slowing traffic to a fishtailing-crawl. But that crawl was a Usain Boltesque sprint compared to the traffic jam we found ourselves in as we passed through Colorado Springs. Only 70 miles from the Denver airport, we suddenly were faced with our first major deviation from the schedule. We had completed more than 99% of our trip and we were about to be foiled at the finish-line. And yet we made it.

So thanks, Chicago. Thank you, New York. Delays at your airports apparently led Jet Blue to delay both
 of our group's flights, pushing each of them back to around 1:30 am (from 11:30 pm and 12:50 am, respectively). And we needed every minute. After returning our car and handing off boxes of supplies to Dan's girlfriend Helena (who, in another stroke of luck, happens to be from Denver) 
we had to rush through the check-in and security processes just to walk our last state mile in the airport terminal. We finished our walk not two minutes before boarding our plane--remember, our two-hour-late plane. 
Talk about taking things down to the wire. Luggage in hand, we walked past magazine stands and fast-food restaurants long shuttered for the evening, along with a smattering of people sleeping on or under the seats in empty gates. As we paced off our last few thousand feet a number of us commented on how lucky we had been--not just that evening but 
throughout the trip. While it is easy to point to our planes' fortuitous delays, we undoubtedly were lucky in many of the things that didn't happen throughout the rest of the trip. We didn't have a breakdown (although we did lose a hubcap...sorry, Hertz!). While it snowed a few times, it only affected us on the last day. Traffic was never a problem, again excluding only the last day. The walks we picked were almost universally as we expected them to be or better. With just a couple of exceptions, even the "busts" turned out to be good for one reason or another. 

Througout the week I couldn't help but notice two extraordinarily bright stars in the early night sky.  I'm not really into astronomy, but something seemed unusual about them. It turns out that they're planets...and I'm not really into astrology, but I took to looking superstitiously upon our celestial guides, even taking pictures of them on a number of occasions. Here were objects in the dark sky that I had never noticed before but now dominated our night walks all over the country, from a town park in Indiana to the ghost town of Uvada, Utah. I'm not saying that they brought us luck, but I don't mind pointing to them as a symbol of our good fortune. 


GPW said...

You did it!!! Am thrilled with all you accomplished in 9 days -- followed every new post and update nearly minute to minute -- and send hearty congrats to you and the argonauts!

Gresham said...

We are thankful that you all made it home safely.

It was a memorable Thanksgiving.

Poliana said...

I am very happy for you!!!

I saw the planets last night....they were magnificent!!

ja43ke said...

Congrats guys. Sounds -- and looks -- like it was a fantastic trip.

I've been living vicariously through this blog for the past ten days ... what am I supposed to do now???