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I’m incredibly close to home now — 2.57 miles according to the GPS — but I wanted to have at least a little opportunity to write about today before outside, subjective forces skewed my memory. A “little” opportunity may be all I give myself, since it’s so hot here, 97° plus this crazy Kansas humidity.

So I’ll jump straight into this morning. I got up at the litteral crack of dawn, the sun just cresting the horizon at 6:30 a.m. I all my belongings neatly stowed for the 350 mile drive home and back on the road by seven. I swung by the Dalton Gang Hideout in Meade, but it was closed, of course, so early in the morning.

About 20 miles out from Meade, I stopped at Big Basin, a huge mile-wide sinkhole that fell when all the underlying salt and gypsum deposits dissolved. Nearby, at Little Basin, where the same thing happened, a mysterious pool of water sits called St. Jacobs Well. Supposedly, the “well” has been a stopping point for travelers as far back as prehistory, since the pool has never been known to run dry, ever. A spectacular thing happened when I stopped at the well, which lies along a tiny gravel road, a mile out into a conserved prairie. A huge herd of Bison, four-hundred head strong, that had been lazily mowing around the corral suddenly took off trotting, pounding over the hill in front of me, speeding along in irregular rows of three, sending dust flying as they leaped hills off into the distance. I’m not sure what sparked the stampede, possibly just a morning workout routine, but it was quite a spectacle, and obviously a very appropriate sight for my homecoming in Kansas.

My next stop was in the cute town of Medicine Lodge to use their very friendly and helpful public library. One of my friends at K-State who comes from Medicine Lodge told me once that her sorority sisters couldn’t believe she came from a town with a brick mainstreet. And indeed, that holds a lot of charm in the little town. They were painting the crosswalks today, and instead of installing detours, they just did them half the road at a time, letting traffic find their own way around. Of course they do them the same way in Humboldt, but it makes the point of the comfort and character of such a small town. If I had had longer to spend in M.L., a night perhaps, I think it could have grown to be a favorite of mine.

The long stretch from there to home gave me plenty of time to reflect on the whole trip, from the early flowers of June to the crispy corn leaves of August. The only interruption in that span was a series of neon posterboard signs my friends Sarah and Laura had made with “inside joke” phrases written in bubbly letters urging me to hurry on home. They placed a dozen or so of them on Highway 400 around Leon, about 20 miles east of Wichita.

So in my reflecting on my trip, on all of its destinations, all of the places I’ve seen, the people I’ve met, and things I’ve done, I only came up with one conclusion: they’re all fond memories. They all seem equally distant — or equally recent, I’m not quite sure. I can picture the streets of St. Louis, the many ferry rides of North Carolina’s outer banks, the desperate decisions made in Harvard Square, the all-night drive to watch the sun rise over Lake Erie, hiking among the marvels of Canada’s National Parks, the luxury mansions of Bel Aire, and that time I rafted with the Dick Workses in Colorado, all with equal brilliance (for better or worse).

I’m short of words now that I’m home, and I think it’s best that way. I’ll let the journal as a whole stand against the scrutiny of generalities and conclusions. When it’s published, thoroughly edited and revised of course, in book form, you may get a better summary there.

But for now, I leave you. I have compiled a few “best of” lists, which might answer some questions people have, like the most oft asked “So, what’s been your favorite place?” Hopefully this will help alleviate some of those questions and lead to more insightful questions, perhaps.

Also keep in mind that my website will not go stale or sour from here. Indeed this usa2 travelogue may remain dormant and unchanging for quite a while, but my regular site and daily journal (called “ramblings”) will be alive and well once I get back to school in a few days. The address for the regular website is simply www.worksology.com . The full site contains lots of family pictures, photos and journals from previous European travels, a portfolio of writings, resumes, and web design, and of course, my daily journal Ramblings. See you around.

Here are my “best of” lists:

Number of Time Zone Changes

  • 6

Number of Continental Divide Crossings

  • 8

Best Meals

  1. Pan-seared Ahi Tuna, Armando’s, Onancock, Virginia
  2. Marcel’s kebabs, Belanger Household, St. Martine, Quebec
  3. Samoa Cookhouse, Samoa, California
  4. Wollen Wedding Reception, Danvers, Massachusetts
  5. Eggs Benedict, Willie’s Bakery, Victoria, British Columbia

Best Scenery

  1. Kootenay National Park, Alberta
  2. Coastal Maine
  3. Glacier National Park, Montana
  4. Highway 1, California
  5. Great Smoky Mountains, Tennessee

Favorite Cities over 100k

  1. New York City, New York
  2. San Francisco, California
  3. Cambridge, Massachusetts
  4. Charleston, South Carolina
  5. Ottawa, Ontario

Favorite Towns under 5k

  1. Hermann, Missouri
  2. Camden, Maine
  3. McClellanville, South Carolina
  4. Bar Harbor, Maine
  5. Mackinaw City, Michigan

Coolest People I Met

  1. Tracy from Ohio in New York
  2. That girl at the Life x 3 play
  3. Captain Randy
  4. Those girls at the Jason Mraz Concert
  5. All the other cute girls I never traded names with

Famous People Seen

  1. Charlie Daniels
  2. Holly Hunter
  3. Lewis Black
  4. Sarah Jessica Parker
  5. The Dead
  6. Joan Osborne
  7. Helen Hunt
  8. John Turturro
  9. Alicia Silverstone
  10. Others?

Number of Nights in a Tent

  • 30

Number of Nights in a Hotel/Hostel/Condo/House

  • 36

Number of Nights in my car

  • 7

Number of Nights in a yurt

  • 1

Highest $US Spent on Gas

  • $2.79, near Nevada/California border

Lowest $US Spent on Gas

  • $1.31, Fruitland, Missouri

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