Charleston, SC, Los Angeles, CA, and Minneapolis, MN – April 17-30, 2013
I caught the incoming tide up the Ashley River and slipped past Charleston to an old railroad bridge. There used to be a ferry there, on the river bend. Hessian mercenaries crossed it on their way to occupy Charleston during the Revolutionary War. Slave ships would dock to sell slaves to the plantations. Now it’s just a quiet neighborhood where one of my best friend’s grandmother lives.
“She might ask you trim a shrub or two, just fair warning,” he said. “But she loves to cook for people and says you can store the boat in her garage.”
I was in.
Fran claims to be over eighty, looks not a day over sixty, and is sharper than most twenty-year-olds. She seems to know everyone too. Someone to help get the boat to her house. Another person to get me to and from the airport. Yet another person to show me around Charleston.
I stripped everything out of the boat, let it dry in the sun, and packed it all away along one side of Fran’s garage. It felt strange to shut off the lights and leave it behind, almost like I was betraying a friend.
“Don’t worry,” I said. “I’ll be back soon.”
I got a ride to the airport the next morning, printed out a ticket, and boarded a plane. A few hours later, without stepping outside or even glancing at the Rocky Mountains, I saw the Pacific Ocean from a small oval window.
A week passed with friends, then another airport and I landed in Minneapolis to give a presentation about the trip, talk about adventures, and see a few people I’d met along the way. Three days later I was back in an airplane, circling over Charleston, catching a glimpse of the Atlantic just before sunset.
I flicked on the lights in Fran’s garage and saw the familiar yellow gleam of the kayak, waiting for my return with her crew of flamingos and the tiny stuffed alligator.
“I missed you guys,” I said.
Continents move quick in big metal tubes, but you don’t see much.