JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA – We’re on the road again.
I’m writing to you from a McDonald’s restaurant in downtown Jacksonville. We were traveling north on Interstate 95 and pulled off on Exit 353D to fill up with gas, water, and cheap food.
Kate and the kids are nearby eating their burgers and nuggets. I’m writing this message by hand. Later Kate will transcribe it to my phone while I drive.
The sun’s going down. It’s getting cold. Nearby, a trucker shifts down a gear and his engine roars…
The truck-stop pole signs. The billboards. The 18-wheelers. The industrial parks. The gas stations. The strings of rusty freight cars outside every town.
This is America. And I love it.
Here we are…
With Dusty, Penny, and Miles at a McDonald’s in Jacksonville
Twelve More Hours
We arrived in Florida from London late last night. Then we hit the road first thing this morning.
Our “road” today will be Interstate 95. Our destination is Baltimore, Maryland.
As I write this, Baltimore is about 750 miles – and 12 hours of driving – to the north. We’ll drive all night using the method long-haul truckers use when they have an express delivery to make. While I drive, Kate sleeps. While I sleep, Kate drives.
We’ll get to Baltimore around sunrise if everything goes well.
We slept at Kate’s parents’ house last night. They weren’t home. They’re on vacation.
I haven’t made peace with them – or even seen them – since divorcing their daughter in 2014 and then taking their grandkids on a crazy trip around the world in 2018.
I wonder how they feel about me. I wonder how they feel about our plan to get married again.
My guess is “anxious.”
I had breakfast with Mark Ford this morning. I was Mark’s publisher in Delray Beach for about four years until I had my mental breakdown.
I loved working with Mark. They were some of the best, most exciting years of my life. And even though it’s been a few years since we worked together, Mark continues to encourage and support me…
“Your book will be a big bestseller,” he told me.
“But what should the book be about?” I asked.
“Read A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle,” he advised. “Or reread the essays Bill Bonner wrote when he lived in France 15 years ago. That’s the direction I would go in.”
Long Night Ahead
After I had breakfast with Mark, we went to our storage locker. We’d lost the key along the way and had to break the lock with a pair of bolt cutters.
Penny (7) was the most excited. She hasn’t seen her dolls in two years. She gave them all big hugs, then carried them to the car and arranged them on the backseat for the long journey.
The boys got their Xbox. I took out my office clothes. Kate gathered the materials she uses to homeschool the kids – textbooks, etc. Then we hit the road…
Not much more to report. We have some long hours ahead of us tonight.
As the endless painted white lines on the road pass before my eyes, I’ll be thinking of India… and China… and Africa… and gold… and all the good things that await us on the road ahead…
– Tom Dyson