Yesterday, I talked about the John Steinbeck book Travels with Charlie – In Search Of America and how it has affected me for all my travel life. I have always dreamed of making a similar trip and that is about to become reality. The trip itself will start on May 2, but I will spend much of April giving you stories about my preparation for it, and explaining why I will do what I do.
I am a planner, I always have been, so it is natural that I plan this “unplanned” trip to some degree. I just don’t often let things happen by chance. The first thing was to make an official banner for the trip as shown above. This will be in all the daily posts I will be giving you throughout the trip. Clicking on the banner in the daily posts will bring up the entire “on-the-road” series in case you missed some.
In 1960 Steinbeck had a custom-made camper made on the back of a Chevy pickup. Likewise, I built a similar one myself, or at least a 21st century version. He used it to travel around American with his full-sized poodle named Charlie. I won’t have a dog traveling with me. I would have loved to have Beulah, my Basset Hound to go with me, but she passed away a few years ago. 😪 Instead, I will be traveling with a 16-year-old version of myself. That brings on a story of itself.
My full name is Rodney Joe Walters. I went by the name of Joe for the first 18 years. I was named after my mother’s brother, but since my she burned all the family bridges, I never met him. Rodney came from a 1930s actor that she liked. Mom had four kids, three before she was 22 years old, and it didn’t seem that she cared much about what we were called. I later found that that was to be expected from the extreme narcissist that she was.
I hated the name Rodney, so was glad that I had a more common name to fall back on. It wasn’t until I went to college in 1965 that I took up the name of Rod. That happened because of one of my classes there were four “Joe’s”, so decided that I want a more unique name. It would be around 1980 that “RJ” stuck. I had some friends call me that, and the door label to my office was always “RJ Walters”. The name RJ just seemed to describe me in those years. I became known as “RJ – the database wizard”
So, I am taking a younger, wholly naive 1962 person along with me on this trip. I hope to look at the trip with both my mature and my childlike eyes. Sixty years is a long time between having a dream and finally fulfilling it, but it is definitely better late than never.