On December 22nd, I completed a western loop with an ameba-like circumference of over 8,500 miles. Amazingly, almost half of those miles were racked up by excursions from my “campsites.” The photos with this post document every campsite except for two: Tijeras, New Mexico and Shasta Lake, California (I also parked for one night each at Jim & Becky Hohnstein’s house in Minatare, Nebraska, and Mark & Marlene Forster’s house in Sanders, Arizona).
This loop led me through ten western states and six reservations. Beginning on August 14th of 2014, I pointed my “iron pony” and “longhouse” in an easterly direction and set sail from Keizer, Oregon along the Uttermost Road. Over four months later, I returned to the Pacific Northwest from where I had begun some 130 days before.
I’ve come full circle.
I had promised my mom that I would return for Christmas. But because of the serendipitous nature of the Uttermost Road, at the outset my thought was that I had two options. One, I could park my rig somewhere and jump on an aircraft of some kind bound for Portland. Two, I could navigate my own craft and drive back. I opted for number two and rolled into Keizer, Oregon driving my ’07 Ram towing a “5ver.”
Promised kept. But now what?
Obviously, I’ve been on a literal, outward journey. But more profoundly, I’ve been on a metaphorical, inward journey. It’s been life-changing on several levels and I don’t want it to end. And yet, to say that I don’t want the inward journey to end seems to run contrary to a materialist perspective of reality that assumes that a concept of “inward” denotes limitation by definition . . . a “region” consisting of borders that is explorable and mappable. It finally comes to end.
I wholeheartedly disagree with this assumption.
The universe, as we’ve been told by some astronomers and physicists, is infinite, or perhaps expanding into an infinite void of nothingness in outer space. It’s difficult for us to wrap our heads around this image of the universe. But consider the idea of "inner space." Try to wrap your mind around the concept of the “you-niverse" within each one of us that is beyond measure. Its depths can never by fully explored and mapped. Using biblical metaphors, the inward region of our souls is the “locale” of the kingdom of God . . . of heaven. It’s eternity in our hearts.
I've decided that this is the realm I want to explore. This is the region of the human experience where transformational discoveries are made. I’m beginning to learn that even in the deepest void of my innermost being . . . the places of my greatest darkness and pain . . . even there I am not alone. In fact, it is there in the darkness where my life begins and is reborn. As Jesus said, “For out of your belly . . . out of your innermost being . . . shall flow rivers of living water.”
I want to encourage you to journey within. For when you turn and face the darkness (the void) and enter into the middle of your deepest dungeons, you will ultimately discover your liberation. You will know that you are not alone. You never have been and never will be. “Fear not, for I am with you.”
This is one of the themes in my book Love Your Guts Out. A bit of a commercial here, so more to come later after I get it published.
As for my outward journey, I’m not exactly sure where the Uttermost Road will lead next. Since returning to Oregon for the holidays, I’m taking some time to regroup and count my resources to determine what I’m able to do in the next few months. My first priority is to finish my present book project. If it’s the last thing I ever accomplish in life, I’ll be a happy man. Therefore, my plan (as of this moment) is to make some modifications to my truck and trailer and hit the road again for the remainder of the winter with the sole purpose (mostly) of finishing the book. I’m thinking I’ll stay “nearby” in the Pacific Northwest until it’s completed.