• Could a Robot Hitch Hike?

        Traveling the Rust Belt through Buffalo and Erie, and now Cleveland, you meet a lot of people who have watched their jobs go away as machines handle tasks once undertaken by humans. Working with your hands, I’ve heard from ride after ride, doesn’t take care of a family the way it used to. This is hardly breaking news, but it is a painful fact of life for many in the northeast. Then it occurred to me – am I safe from automation? As a hitch hiker, might I someday be replaced by a machine? The answer is – yes. This little robotic guy already tried to hitch across…

  • Waterloo to Buffalo

      I prefer taking back roads. That explains why the pace of my travels is only a tad speedier than a diligent bicyclist. You get shorter rides on Rt. 20 than you would on the Thruway, but the terrain is more appealing and the likelihood of drawing the attention of law enforcement diminishes. On the edge of Waterloo, I thought I’d split the difference, and positioned myself on the side of the road on 20 West, just before a turn off to 414, on the chance that someone going north might be headed west on the Thruway. It was a good spot, near a Tops market, which meant that someone…

  • Rt. 20 and the Law – It’s not all Black and White

    When Dave’s red Chevy truck turned around a few hundred yards up the road from where I sat on a guardrail, I got a good feeling. On the side of the road you don’t get much chance to see people’s faces, so you can spend a lot of time imagining what is on the mind of the people passing by, even on a secondary road that has a maximum speed limit of 55. Dave pulled over across the road to ask where I was going. I’ve taken to telling people “California,” so that’s what I said to him. He laughed and said he could get me to Canandaigua, 17 miles…

  • Day one ends in Waterloo

    It started with a rain delay. The skies over Pompey opened up and it didn’t make much sense to me to go out there and get drenched. So I waited around the house, unpacking and repacking, playing with Gracie, checking weather reports. And listening to thunder. At around 11 there was a break in the clouds, and I finally loaded up the backpack and headed out the door. One thing I immediately noted as different from 1978 was how much heavier my backpack was. In 1978 it weighed 40 pounds – this time it was just under 30, but it felt like a ton. It was a long slog up…

  • Yeah, it’s Raining a Little

    In our two months on the road in 1978, whenever things got rough, Joe and I had a little routine. One of us would say, “It could be worse”, and the other would reply, “It could be raining.” It only rained once that summer, and it caught us in Jackson Hole. We found shelter in a shopping center and watched hail the size of baseballs pound down so hard that the parking lot flooded. We were unbelievably fortunate. Well, today, my first day out, it’s raining. I’m holed up waiting for it to blow over. And it could be worse. I’m not on the Andrea Gail. Perfect Storm

  • Delay of Game

    Blame the list. The list of things to do. A pile of things gnawing for my attention. Most of them were unrelated to the trip. There was a ceiling in bathroom that I’ve been replacing. And a fence at my son’s house that we just got started on. And then there was the five hours spent on the phone with two large multinational companies trying to get the products they sold me to work as promised (yeah, I’m talking about you, Sony.And don’t pretend you didn’t hear me, Intuit.) Which explains why I’m not on the road yet.  And why I still can’t get the camera to upload the pictures…

  • Mother’s Day

    On Mother’s Day, I think back about how bold my mother must have been to drive me and Joe a ways up the Thruway and drop us off to begin our cross-country journey in 1978. And how much worry she had to put aside to support us in this adventure. I imagine that my father had a lot of tears to dry once they got back to Staten Island that day. Given the state of communication in the late 70’s, we spoke only two or three times all summer, and except for those few times we stayed with family, she had no way to know where I was. At the…

  • There and Back Again (Maybe)

    On or about the 11th of May, depending on the weather and my general state of health, I will step out of my old grey house on the Limestone Creek, built, we have learned, as a cobbler shop for Yankees heading south to fight in the Civil War, and I will make a right turn on Watervale Road. At that point, three miles north of the old Cherry Valley Turnpike, I will turn my backpack toward the south, stick out my thumb, and begin what I expect will be a 10,000 mile journey across the American land. This will be in fulfillment of a plan that came to me some…