The story about Bill Inman, a rancher who is traveling across the U.S. on his faithful steed, Blackie, caught my attention. Inman’s stated purposeof this journey is to find out the good things about the America amid the bad news. The war in Iraq, the housing market bubble burst, the gas prices, etc., etc., etc. All of this what’s wrong news can make people feel downright crabby. Anyway, Inman thinks what we hear or read is too gloomy and wants to discover the sunnier side of life through his plodding travels. He travels about 25 miles a day. (photo by Charlie Riedel, AP)
So far, wherever he has stopped, he’s found people friendly. Although, one might say, people are friendly because of his horse. Maybe that’s true but I found a similar situation after I got back from the Peace Corps and I wasn’t traveling with a horse or even a small dog, a kid or a hamster. I was traveling with my close friend, a fellow RPCV (returned volunteer) whose mission was the same as mine. Let’s avoid getting real jobs for awhile and see the U.S. as a good reason for not earning a paycheck. Without a horse or a car, we relied on Greyhound (or Trailways) and in two cases Green Tortoise. Twice we found plane tickets cheaper than bus tickets.
We started our bus journey in Kentucky (we had car rides from New York (me) and Massachusetts (her) and zagging across the U.S., stopping to stay a night or two with relatives, relatives of relatives, friends, friends of friends, parents of friends and people we didn’t even know. We didn’t know anyone at the center for wayward women in Des Moines, Iowa. We weren’t even wayward women, but they let us stay. (Maybe we were wayward women but we didn’t know it.)
The point of this story is, we did not have one bad experience. Not one. We found people to be helpful, kind, and interested in us. People gave us rides to the bus station if we needed it. Offered us food and company and even a police whistle when we asked if the bus station in Denver was in a bad part of town. Perhaps, it helped that we told people that we had just finished serving in Africa for two years in the Peace Corps and that we were traveling across the U.S. to learn more about the wonders in our own country. (Okay, perhaps a bit thick, but it worked.) So, I found the U.S. to be a marvelous place–even Texas which was the place I expected not to like for some reason. I loved Austin and San Antonio. Still, I’ve found every country I’ve been to (and it’s a boat load) mostly marvelous. It helps to go into a place thinking you’ll find no different. At least, that has been my experience.
I hope Bill Inman keeps finding the same pleasant experiences that he has so far. I wonder how he’s getting home. He lives in Oregon. I flew to Albuquerque, New Mexico from Las Vegas, the last stop of my three month trip. I finally needed to get a job and Albuquerque seemed like a good place to land for awhile.
Oh, if you ever do make your own lengthy journey across the U.S., here’s a tidbit of advice. Go easy on the margaritas and ice-cream. It doesn’t take long to develop a paunch.