In late April 2014, I drove across country from my former home in Hackensack, New Jersey to the Emerald City of the Pacific Northwest. Many thanks to my best friend, Tom Brophy, who took time off from his new job to fly out from Seattle and accompany me on this journey. Tom’s companionship was invaluable. And he did a great job as my co-pilot.
We matched the itinerary day-to-day from the start on Sunday, April 20th to the final destination on Monday, April 28th. I estimated 3,300 miles, including sightseeing stops, and we ended up covering 3,275 miles–only off by 25 miles or 0.7% from initial estimate.
Along the journey, we enjoyed Major League baseball games at PNC Park, and Wrigley Field (on the day of the Cubs centennial celebration). Tom and I canvassed the beautiful campus of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana on our way to Chicago. We visited Effigy Mounds National Monument in Iowa. We drove through and hiked parts of Badlands National Park in South Dakota (and we avoided the rattle snacks). We saw plenty of prairie dogs in Buffalo Gap National Grassland. And we stopped by the “must-see” Wall Drug in ‘The Mount Rushmore State’ then hung out in Deadwood, where I went jogging along the George S. Mickelson Trail in the Black Hills. We made the awe-inspiring “Close Encounters” trip to Devil’s Tower National Monument in Wyoming (because it ‘meant something’ to us). And we got a glimpse of the historic Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument in ‘Big Sky Country’ (in addition to seeing wild horses up close). I jogged along the natural sandstone Rims in Billings, Montana then Tom and I caught some nice views at Headwater State Park in Three Forks—just south where the Missouri River begins (longest river in the U.S.) and is met by three other rivers: Jefferson, Madison and Gallatin. We traversed three mountain passes on the last day of the trip, including the Rockies west of Missoula, MT and again upon entering Idaho then the Cascades in Washington state as we approached Seattle from the east on Interstate 90.
We met wonderful folks at The Double Hit Lymphoma Foundation. I reached out to Jill Folan, the founder of TDHLF, before I set out on the transcontinental journey. And I wrote this perspective of my battle with Double-Hit lymphoma for their Patient Stories. Tom and I had a great time with the TDHLF group at the ballgame and afterwards. I met three Double-Hit lymphoma warriors, and with other friends who I had been communicating with online prior to finally meeting them in person. It was a darn awesome and an amazing trip!
Kudos to my Honda Civic Si sedan for holding up just fine through multiple heavy downpours, including hailstones (the small, non-damaging size), sleet, wet snow, slick and winding roads, and occasional steep grades and fierce cross winds. In all we covered three time zones and 13 states: NJ, PA, OH, IN, IL, WI, MN, IA, SD, MT, WY, ID, WA.
Last but not least, let me just say there are a lot of beautiful places to see and people to meet in this country. Don’t be afraid to stretch and challenge your comfort zone! The benefits can far outweigh the risks.
TDHLF Patient Stories: My Battle with Double-Hit Lymphoma (February 9, 2014)