If there's anything I have learned during my 34 years on this planet that is 'always go with your gut feeling - go against it and bad things are bound to happen'.
Lats night I had a feeling that going back to San Diego via the northern route is not the way to go. I was going to go toward Seattle and then down I-5 through Portland and northern California. I was indeed looking forward to visiting some friends along the way and am sorry if I have gotten some hopes up without fulfilling them. The two major factors that played into this decision are money and mountains.
First, for me to go through Seattle is going to add an extra 800 or so miles onto the trip and I just don't have the energy to raise that amount along the way. As it is I am already about $700 short of what I will need to keep The Photo Palace Bus filled with diesel and am going to have to work pretty hard in order not to live on credit (I Hate living on credit - that's how most Americans get themselves in trouble to begin with). And second, in order to go directly west from here to Seattle I would have to pass a major mountain pass in Montana, then from Oregon to California and then again right above Los Angeles. Plus, right now I would have to do it all alone and driving a school bus alone is pretty boring and is much harder than even with a constantly-sleeping partner. Gilli does not like to go uphill and I would be going about 15 miles per hour in first gear for about 10 hours. Any number of things can go wrong during that long of a stretch of pushing a 34 year-old vehicle to its limit. Again, it all circles back to budgeting - if I had a repair fund with a few thousand dollars (which is actually what one really needs to set out on the road during this type of a venture), I would totally chance it right now and go directly west. As it is - I'm going to play it safe and go diagonally in order to bypass most of the mountains and to cut 1/3rd out of my diesel budget.
I am not at all disappointed in the way things turned out - I think for the inaugural trial run just for me to go from San Diego straight to Maine and back is a pretty good achievement and I even went as far south as Tennessee and as far west as Minnesota. Let's see what adventures await Gilli and me on our way back - can't wait!
So here is a map showing the route we are going to take on our way back to San Diego.
On my way I'm going to visit Topeka Kansas and dig in the local libraries for more information regarding the magic lantern slides from WWI- era Russia taken by John W Rahill. That is the city that he presented those slides to the congregation at the church he was working at after returning to America. I hope to get a glimpse into the way he presented them from local newspapers, which I hope are available in Topeka.
I urge anyone who reads this and lives along this route to contact me and I would be happy to meet up with them. I also would love to know what, if anything, is happening that I'll be driving by - any festivals, art shows and walks, gatherings... anything at all that would make for a good opportunity to take some good pictures or to raise gas funds by selling prints.
Here is a better details on how we are going to travel - down I-35 through Minneapolis and Des Moines, further down the same freeway to Kansas City, Wichita and Topeka. From there I'll take country roads to cut across Kansas and pop out on I-40 around the town of Tucumcan NM and then through Albuquerque. After that I'm pretty open to suggestions. If anything interesting is happening in Las Cruses, Phoenix or Tucson I would be happy to stop by there.
I will be taking it a nit slower on my way back because I want to shoot a lot more than I have been so far. Two days ago I developed a few rolls of film and found some really neat images on them, so I'm fired up to shoot more before I get home. Unfortunately I'll be out of the area of really big cities and the ones I'll be passing through on my way back are more of a drive/shop/drive back home places, so my favorite street documentary stuff is going to be harder to get... Well, I'm sure I'll make the best of what I encounter.