America’s Great Loop

Credit–Philip Williams Photography

It wouldn’t necessarily be a road trip although Route 66 would be my choice if I had to travel by car. But my preference would be to take a water road trip–America’s Great Loop Cruise through the waterways of eastern United States and some areas of Canada. 

I’d begin in Chicago, go south along the Mississippi, then cut to the Tennessee River in my home state, then on to the Tennesse-Tombigbee Waterway to the Gulf. The Atlantic Coast would be my next adventure, traveling on the Intracostal, ducking into different ports along the way, enjoying life at the marinas where everyone is welcome. Not sure if my memory is exactly correct, but I seem to remember that two of Morgan Freeman’s greatest pleasures were working crossword puzzles and being docked at a marina. I would concur wholeheartedly.

Next stops would be New York, the Hudson, the Erie Canal. On westward to Canadian waters and to the Great Lakes and back to Chicago.

Why? Why not? Life from a boat looks so different than life from a car.

Soaring out of my comfort zone

Nervous smile as I await take off from New Castle International Gliderport, New Caste, VA

That smile on my face hides the grimace in my gut as I prepared for my first sailplane ride. Launch took place from the New Castle International Gliderport in New Castle, Virginia, home of the Blue Ridge Soaring Society (BRSS), our host for this adventure. Cecil McBride, the scribe of my husband’s motorcycle group, organized rides for members who wanted to sail the friendly skies in lieu of two wheels on asphalt.

White knuckled flyer that I am in a plane that has an engine, why would I choose to soar in an aircraft without an engine? Well, my thoughts at the time were that we couldn’t really lose power and plummet from 30,000 feet to a certain death. After all, the tow plane would take us high enough (but not too high) to catch an updraft, or if I want to sound really knowledgable, a thermal. My thoughts were should any emergency arise, we would just glide to earth. No fuel means no fire, just in case of an emergency landing

Oh woman of little learning! (Remember a little learning is a dangerous thing.) Guess what? Sailplanes can fall from the sky, do go fast, and one can die in a glider. Not likely, but possible. So glad I had not consulted Google before sailing away.

My biggest concern after the pilot’s orientation about our flight, was that somehow, I would not disconnect us correctly from the tow plane.(My only job.) Such a silly worry, but my overactive imagination conjured up within seconds all sorts of weird occurrences–we wouldn’t disconnect somehow causing both us and the tow plane to go down or we would follow behind the tow plane and not experience this adventure and be the laughing stock of the BRSS and the motorcycle group. All my fault. 

Ok, none of that happened or probably could not have happened. I never asked. Once we safely disconnected from the tow plane, caught an updraft, and began to soar, so did my heart. Even though the day was not sunny so another worry, where were our thermals, the silence filled my ears–just the whish, whish, of the air around us, beneath us, over us, calmed me down, and I took in every second, every frame of the scenes running under us. 

When I was much, much younger, I dreamed that I could fly. I felt myself bobbing in the air, floating on updrafts as I flew over hills and into valleys. Was this my dream come true? Perhaps, but that freedom of being buoyed only by the air, I have not felt since that cloudy, October day in 2015.

I sailed out of my comfort zone because I like challenges, because I do not want to dissolve away into old age, with only my walker to support me, because my anxiety prompts me to try those adventures that make me anxious. I’ve lived a good life but I want more until the day I decide that my life is complete. Not there yet.