Ballast Key, FL – March 7, 2013
Sad the trip is almost over? Me too, but I’m sure the next adventure is coming soon. If you want to keep up to date, follow the blog via email (look for the link on the right hand side or bottom of every page), facebook, or twitter and you’ll know as soon as I’m lost again.
The end came quick, but not in Key West, not next to the crowds gathered by the red and black monument that people like to call the Southernmost Point, not at the crowded beaches of Fort Taylor packed with bronze skin and sun, not on Duval Street lined with bars, but beyond, past sunsets at Mallory Square, past cruise ships docked like skyscrapers, past the edge of civilization, far off, off through a sea of blue to a string of islands hanging in the ocean.
Key West is not the southernmost point. That is a lie, a fabrication, a gimmick of Conch paint and pride. Any map knows the truth. There’s an island to the south, a private key with a private house. Key West is a place to take photos and send postcards, a good enough spot that isn’t good enough, not after 4,000 miles. This trip has never been about being easy.
But the end still came quick.
It didn’t feel like the end. It felt like another island, another ocean, another moment in a long string of moments that reach back along the Gulf Coast, snake through the streets of New Orleans, and slide up the Mississippi past Memphis, St. Louis, and the Twin Cities, past the swamps of the Savanna Portage, the blue sea of Superior, and the granite rocks of the Boundary Waters, back to that chunk of land hanging on the Canadian border, back to the Northwest Angle.
This was all ideas once, scribbled possibilities, ink on a page.
“If I could get to Lake Superior,” I thought. “If I could get to the Mississippi River. If I could get the Gulf of Mexico.”
Now it’s all memories, memories and seventeen feet of yellow plastic against the last ten miles, against the deep blue sea, against waves and sunlight and islands rising on the horizon. Ten miles. Ten straight miles. Ten miles shooting like an arrow.
Ten miles that disappeared in a moment.
And it’s over.